The art of storytelling can enrich any worship service. Whether you are reading stories from a picture book or preaching them from memory in the pulpit, A Good Telling can help you choose meaningful stories and learn how to tell them in powerful ways. It explains foundational techniques and provides practice exercises. It also offers strategies for successfully incorporating audience participation with children and adults. Supplemental material at the back includes a workshop series, complete with five ready-to-go skill-building sessions and a model for peer-to-peer sharing of stories. In addition, a comprehensive list of resources shows where to find scores of appropriate stories to tell. Whether you are a novice or a storytelling veteran, A Good Telling is an important new addition to any worship leader's library.
Kristin Maier offers a tip on storytelling:
Chapter 1  The Role of Story in Worship
Chapter 2  Choosing Stories for Worship
Chapter 3  Techniques for a Good Telling
Chapter 4  The Art of Preparation
Chapter 5  Listener Participation That Works
Chapter 6  Storytelling by Groups: Drama in Worship
Chapter 7  Starting a Tradition of Storytelling in Your Congregation
Chapter 8  Conclusion: Storytelling as a Spiritual Journey
Storytelling Workshop Series
Additional Resources for Storytelling in Worship
A congregation sits in pews, focused on a figure standing at the front of the sanctuary. She is spinning a tale about the land of the north. Sounds of shifting bodies and rustling programs fall away. The story begins to envelop the room. For a time, the veil between imagination and the solid world of walls and pews thins. The room is soon filled with villagers instead of congregants. Ancient trees materialize and loom overhead. Darkness moves among them, bringing leaves of yellow, orange, and red.
As the listeners wonder if the sun will ever return to the dark and frigid land, the storyteller gives the signal, and the children and adults take out the keys they have been silently holding. Small hands and large hands hold up jangling circles of metal and begin to shake them. The sounds of millions of needles of ice ring out. The sun, knowing the trees have been weeping in the cold, turns once again toward the land of the north.
When the story is brought to a satisfactory end, the walls of the sanctuary re-emerge for the congregation. The forest floor beneath their feet returns to carpet. Yet the story does not leave them entirely. It echoes in their psyches and whispers through the rest of the worship service. It follows them out to coffee hour and travels home with them and into their day. Some piece that rang true has stayed with them. Some questions they have long held have bubbled to the surface. A fullness in their hearts subtly shifts what they know about themselves and their world.
This is what my listeners tell me they experience when I tell a story in worship. It is what I experience myself when I hear a story well told. The amazing power of the human brain to imagine a story as it is being heard and bring it to life in the psyche can feel magical. Good storytelling in worship transports a whole gathered community to a new place of the imagination and heart.
Maier's book is comprehensive and provocative, not just for religious professionals but for everyone who loves stories. For those who lead UU worship, it's a must-read! Solid theological reflection, practical coaching, and eight great stories—it's all here.
—Wayne Arnason and Kathleen Rolenz, co-authors, Worship That Works
From seasoned preachers to occasional volunteers, worship leaders in many settings will welcome Kristin Maier's thoughtful encouragement and practical advice to weaving stories effectively into well-crafted services. This book is a reliable guide to choosing appropriate material, practicing basic technique, and developing confidence. Urging "not perfection, but authenticity," Maier shows how good stories well-told can invite listeners of all ages into a larger, sacred narrative. Whether reading aloud from a picture book, spinning a tale from memory, recasting a traditional piece or inventing something new, we are all story-makers. A Good Telling deepens our human instinct for narrative into creative spiritual practice.
—Victoria Safford, senior minister, White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Everyone knows the power of a good story. Kristin Maier's thoughtful and useful guide puts that power within reach. A Good Telling puts the verb back into both stories and worship, reminding us that the good telling of stories is a sacred act that can make our worship come alive. This is a book as theological as it is practical; it belongs in the library of every worship leader, clergy and lay, seeking to engage heart and mind together. Many thanks to Kristin Maier for sharing her wisdom and skills and her stories with us.
—Karen Hering, author of Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within