Tell Them the Old, Old Story

This issue of Mission Round Table addresses the place of story in our lives and our proclamation of the gospel.

What is it about stories that we find so gripping? In part, it is their description of the human condition. Whether based on a historical incident or entirely composed in the mind of the teller, a good story speaks to our basic needs as humans. This explains why our self-understanding is often grounded in stories and why they supply the foundations for our ethical and religious ideas. It also explains why story is such a valuable means of sharing the gospel and nurturing people in the life of faith. There is a sense in which telling the old, old story again and again enables both tellers and listeners to have their thought lives and their actions penetrated and guided by the one grand story of Jesus and his love. The more we rightly encounter the story, the more it informs our worldview and unites us with the God of the story.

As some of the following articles make clear, it is essential that we tell this story in a way that is understandable to our listeners. And though the words of the biblical story do not change, the way our listeners hear the words can vary greatly.

Browse articles in this edition

Textuality and orality in the Bible

In this article, Jerry Hwang discusses the diverse kinds of orality contained in the Bible’s literary forms, the broader question of why the spoken nature of God’s address has come down to us in written form, and the role that literacy has played in ancient and modern cultures. Jerry Hwang and his wife Jackie serve [...]

Orality Praxis in Discipleship and Church Planting

Larry Dinkins shares a personal journey from use of an analytical, literate text paradigm to an oral approach. It addresses the question of how disciplers and church planters trained in highly literate methods can learn to relate effectively oral learners and incorporate oral strategies into discipleship and church planting in Thailand that are also broadly [...]

Orality, Preaching, and the Gospel

Desmond Soh looks at orality studies and sermon forms to offer possible ways to move beyond didactic, literate and logical preaching forms—how more orality can be injected into sermons and what we can add to sermon forms, especially in narrative preaching. Desmond Soh teaches homiletics and missions at Singapore Bible College. He served as a [...]

A Journey Worth Taking

Christine Dillon looks at how can we tell stories that can be understood by everyone—old and young, male and female, educated and uneducated—and help them see the Bible’s relevance. It provides pointers on how to choose a set of stories and includes a sample conversation to lead into the Zacchaeus story. Christine Dillon’s parents were OMFers [...]


David Eastwood offers insights through this account of how the Taiwan team was steered into developing the series of mini-Bibles to spread the gospel to the working class in Taiwan. David Eastwood has served as a church-planting missionary with OMF in Taiwan for twenty-three years. Last year he became the OMF Taiwan Field Director. He is a graduate of All Nations Christian College (UK), [...]

Story Telling

Martin Goldsmith shares his thoughts on the importance of stories and how traditional stories in different cultures can be used to teach Biblical truths. He includes a brief discussion of how Jewish forms of teaching (Halachah and Haggadah) has influenced Biblical teaching. Martin Goldsmith served for ten years with OMF in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Thailand before returning [...]

“Hymns of the Everlasting Hills: The Written Word in an Oral Culture in Southwest China”

Walter McConnell, Head of OMF Mission Research, reviews the PhD dissertation “Hymns of the Everlasting Hills: The Written Word in an Oral Culture in Southwest China” by Aminta Arrington Walter McConnell, Head of OMF Mission Research, reviews the PhD dissertation “Hymns of the Everlasting Hills: The Written Word in an Oral Culture in Southwest China” by Aminta [...]

Resources for Gospel Storytelling

This is an updated (April 2020) version of the list of Gospel storytelling resources provided on page 9 of Mission Round Table vol. 11 no. 1 (January 2016) on the theme “Tell them the old, old Story”.

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