Telling the Gospel through Story: Evangelism that Keeps Hearers Wanting More

by Christine Dillon

InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, 224 pages, 2012, $15.00.

Reviewed by Mark M. Overstreet, PhD, vice president, T4 Global, Dallas, Texas. 

Have you been frustrated by ineffective methods of evangelism that leave people uninterested in the gospel? With real-world experience from numerous mission contexts, Christine Dillon explains a simple, biblical tool for learning and communicating the message of Jesus through story.  

Dillon employs her experience as a missionary and storyteller to explain the mechanics of storying to communicate the gospel. Her method, she argues, delivers the listener to the world of redemption using the method Jesus and many of the prophets and apostles used.

In five parts, she explains her storying process. First, in an easy-to-implement process, Dillon articulates her foundation. She points to the numerous Old and New Testament examples who serve as formative examples of evangelism. Second, she describes the task of storytelling into understandable steps to give the beginner a guide for the task. She explains the necessity of understanding the local worldview, directing the learner to construct story sets that challenge current beliefs and serve the context of the listener. 

Third, Dillon moves from instruction to implementation with basic practice steps for starting well. She explains the importance of discussion and post-story dialog. Fourth, she moves from implementation to multiplication. Dillon offers practical tips for various sizes and contexts, and also includes elements useful to keep the storyteller motivated. Finally, she adapts her method for varying contexts. From evangelism to theological education, Dillon enthusiastically commends storying in many contexts. Useful appendices include additional discussion questions, explanation of storying methods, training checklist, and sample stories to follow.

A welcome resource on storying, Dillon’s valuable work describes storying. Her case weakens, however, when she employs personal anecdote as evidence, converting conclusions to universal principles, applicable without exception. Moreover, Dillon employs broad, sweeping generalizations, including “always” and “only” in unsubstantiated cases. Perhaps most remarkable is Dillon’s willingness to consider receptor culture context in preparation for storying without acknowledging its vital necessity through each component of the communication process. Beyond early “step 1” strategy, the receptor’s culture, worldview, and context affects every element of communication, from beginning to end.

Dillon’s easy-to-implement instruction is a helpful resource for the reader wanting to experience the power of story.  Her work offers the storying movement and the church a valuable medium to communicate truth.

Check these titles:
Hiebert, Paul G. 2008. Transforming Worldviews. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

ION/LCWE. 2010. Orality Breakouts. Hong Kong: ION/LCWE.

EMQ, Vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 251-252. Copyright  © 2013 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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