Big Tribe 1 - Spiritual Observations

Big Tribe is where the saying below that we use in STS is seriously applied.

“He who drives the wagon to town
will remember the way back the next time.”

An instructor with excellent STS teaching skill leads everyone in the workshop as one big “tribe” in preparing a story.
Not only will the attendees learn how a storyteller prepares. As well, this is the time a lot of transfer of responsibility is made. The goal is to encourage and empower learners to take responsibility for discovering treasures in a story. Also, in these Big Tribe modules, people start learning how to form their own questions. This is a long teaching section, so you may want to select a different strong instructor to lead Part One.

Part One: Learning to Teach Within Time Allowed.

First let me ask this. What Bible stories have you seen presented so far in this workshop? PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. RIGHT! [Encourage people, if needed, to remember and name the stories of Martha Mary and Moses Rock One.] “What those storytellers did is called “presentation.” They presented a story to you and you discussed it together.

Before those instructors could present a story like that, they first prepared those stories for you. To prepare, they used questions to find many of their deep spiritual observations. The questions they used were similar to the questions that the Wise Counsellor used. Then, when the storytellers presented those stories to you, they asked you many of those same questions the Wise Counsellor used to encourage discussion.

Soon you will experience what we call ‘Big Tribe.’ That will be your opportunity as a group to investigate and prepare a story for an STS presentation. Just make sure you know those two terms, let me say, in preparation storytellers are asking questions about a Bible story so they can learn from it. In presentation, storytellers then ask listeners questions about that Bible story so these added people can learn from the story as well.

”Whenever you present a story, you will select as many of the spiritual observations you found that you might be able to develop in the time available to speak. You will find that because STS is taught discussion style, people often become very involved in talking about some parts of the story. Did you notice how much you were involved in discussing those two stories you named? PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND BY NODDING.

[Turn and look at the instructors who told those stories as you say this next thought] “Probably those who told the two stories did not have time to talk about all the treasures they found in their stories. Is that true? Hopefully, those instructors are listening and they will nod and agree. If you are the person who told one or both of the stories, you can affirm that if more time had been available, that you had a lot more from the story that you would loved to have shared.]

“As you experienced, in an STS story, some of the ideas discussed will be offered by the storyteller and some with be from those who are hearing and discussing the story. Importantly, you will discover that when you teach STS style, the Bible content you do have time to discuss with people will be understood and remembered long after your presentation.

Have any of you ever taught in church or a ministry situation? PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. “Have you ever taught when there was no time limit, I mean have you ever been able to teach in one session as long as you wanted to?” PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.

But as well, have you ever taught when there is a specified time allowed to speak? For instance are there times you may have 30 minutes or an hour to talk? PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. This is interesting, even in countries where people see themselves as very relational and not bound by time, there are often time limits on teaching.

”There will be times that you share STS Bible stories with others, or use STS in ministry situations, when there are time limitations. So part of what we will show you in this workshop is how to monitor and best use your time.

”Later in this workshop, in smaller groups (we call that ‘small tribes’) some of you will be able to volunteer to be storytellers. After your small group prepares a new story together, one person volunteers to be the storyteller. Then that volunteer and the tribe instructor leave their tribe and rotate to another group. There you will share with them the story you just learned. Be encouraged. Your instructor will personally assist you as needed with the presentation.

In workshops, we allot 30 minutes for that presentation. As a new storyteller, you will have enough time to discuss deeply, maybe three of your many observations.

For now, to give you a taste of story “preparation,” as one big tribe we take some time to find as many observations as we can from the
Storm story. [Say “Storm” story or “Jars of Oil’ whichever will be the story you will use next for Big Tribe.]

Part Two: Finding Spiritual Observations Using Wise Counsellor

[All in italics should be read and understood, but not presented in the workshop. It is a way of thinking that can help you see characters in the Bible stories as real.]

Begin to think about the living, breathing people who actually experienced this situation. Realize that they have feelings and emotions, such as you have. Imagine how someone in that situation “might” feel at that moment, which is not necessarily what they “should” feel.

As you use the Wise Counsellor questions, you are asking yourself… What can I learn about the people from what I see them do and hear them say? Do they seem brave or afraid, or sad or happy, or do I see some other emotion? Can I see in the story what is causing them to feel and act that way?

As you look in each section for choices, realize that in every story in the Bible, everyone, including God the Father and Jesus, had many options of choices they could have made.

Choices: As you see the various choices in each part of that story, you will discover truth. Recognize that these choices were first made in the minds of those in the story; then they acted upon those choices. In the story you are investigating, you only see the choice that was made.

Start thinking. What other choices might have been made that would have been better or perhaps not as wise? Maybe the choice was a poor choice, and you see that the results are negative and bad because of the choices made? Maybe it was a good choice and something good happens, or something surprising occurs, that might at first look to you like a bad result?

You need to wonder. Who else is being impacted in that part of the story because of the choice that was made, and how were they impacted?

Ask yourself. How do I see God in this story? What do I learn about Him from what He says and does?

So, that is what we do to discover Spiritual Observations. We go to each section in the story and ask those same kinds if questions. We look at words, actions, choices made (or ones that could have been made), and notice the results and the impact of those choices on others. And then always we ask. What did I see God doing or allowing in those people’s lives?
Who would like to tell the Wise Counselor for everyone?” [After the Wise Counsellor is told in front to everyone, if parts of the Wise Counselor were left out, the instructor can ask,] “Does anyone want to add anything else that the wise counselor said or asked?” [From now on the Wise Counselor and the questions housed in that illustration and The Path illustration are referred to frequently.]

[IMPORTANT Caution!!!! From now on, if you verbally hand off the Wise Counselor tools to attendees, by telling them what to do or ask next, you will be hindering the learners from taking the responsibility to think for themselves. Instead, continually ask questions that remind people to recall for themselves what the Wise Counsellor DID.]

This is preparation! Actually, from practicing actions on the Storm story, I think you know that story well enough to look for some spiritual observations. So let’s go ahead now and look at the Storm story to practice preparation together.“ [Remind those who have done this story using STS that this is a time we want to give others an opportunity to think through and experience this new process.]

[The paragraphs below are written in great detail as an example of the following principle on empowering: What people can do for themselves, do not do it for them. What people have not been taught in the workshop—tell them. What people should know from what you have taught them in the workshop—ask them to tell it to you.

[In this numbered set of questions in the paragraphs below, you will see questions and then sometimes there will be a reminder to “PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.” If people speak up right away and give the correct answer, then affirm their response and move on. If they need assistance, help only as much as is necessary. Remember STS is listening and responding.]

[Throughout the hand-off for how to find spiritual observations, continually encourage people to use the Wise Counsellor questions as the process to find Spiritual Observations in the Storm story.]

[Become very familiar with the principles in these numbered sentences below. These are NOT words to be memorized. The words walk you through a process to be understood.]
  1. Do you remember if the wise counsellor just lectured the people who were arguing about the water or what did he do to gather information to help the people?” [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.] “Right! He asked questions.
  2. So….if we copy his style, what should we do now to learn more from the Storm story?” [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. If you need to help attendees here you might say,] ”I am thinking we might use what the counsellor first asked. PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. YES! He asked what the situation was and he found out that there was a dispute about water.
  1. So … what are YOU going to do now? [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. It is vital that attendees take time to think and decide based on Wise Counsellor, what they should do with the Storm story. If they do not figure out by themselves what to do next, you can then say,] “We need to know the situation (circumstance) in the Storm story.”

    [If needed, give hints to help them find their way. Do so until they realize that you expect them to pick up a tool for themselves and use it! If needed, you could ask,] “Can you use the question the counsellor used, but ask it about the
    Storm story? [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.] “Yes! You now need to describe that situation in Storm story. 
  2. So … now what might you do? [If people start telling the story from the beginning, you can respond,] “Excellent. You do remember the story. Right now, I’m wondering if you could say in just a few words what the story centers around? I mean, is this story about a dinner problem? or people out of water in a desert?

    [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.] “Correct.” [You are hoping that the attendees will answer with something like …”This is a story about people in a boat in a storm and they are about ready to sink!”] “Excellent. By you finding and stating that situation, you now can look at this story in a more realistic way; these are real people in a deadly situation! 
  3. Now, from Wise Counsellor, what will you ask next?” [‘Ask’ is a key word to use sometimes to help people to remember that the wise counsellor kept asking questions of the people who had the water dispute. As the tribe leader, you can gently encourage people to say “context” or “setting.” PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.] “Right! The wise counsellor asked, ‘Is there anything I need to know that happened before the story that could help me better understand your story about this water dispute?’” 
  4. If you were preparing this story outside of a workshop, you would need to take time to look, or listen, to the stories that come before the Storm story to find the setting. Because in a workshop, time is limited, and we are mostly using our time to let you experience the process, let me help you get the setting.

    When Jesus was on earth, He selected 12 men to follow Him. These disciples, many of them fisherman, had traveled with and lived with Jesus for awhile. They had seen Jesus do miracles and cast out demons and had also heard Jesus teach. In fact, Jesus had spent a lot of time teaching His disciples and telling them parables and He had given them opportunities to apply what they had seen and heard to their own lives.

    ”All of what I just told you is good information that may help you more easily explore and discover treasures in this story. As well, some of that information might be used later in an introduction if you decide the information will help those to whom you tell this story to better understand it. 
  5. So … by using Wise Counsellor, what do you think that you want to do next? [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. If the attendees seem lost, you can say,] “Did the wise counsellor ask people to tell him their whole story at once?” [That question will help remind people to repeat only the first part of the story and then stop and explore only the first section with questions.] “Correct! The counsellor asked the villagers to tell their story, but then he stopped the villagers after they told the first part of their story. 
  6. So … now what?” [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND. [Again, see if the learners will pick up the Wise Counsellor tool and say, ”We need to look at the first part of the story.” Sometimes people will give that answer, but then just stare at you! If that happens, you can ask, “Well, then what are you going to do with the Storm story?” You want them to start telling the Storm story. Try to get this to happen without just TELLLING people what to do.] 
  7. [Often the person retelling the story will go past the part of the story that says “…they took Jesus just as He was in the boat and there were other little boats with them.” If that occurs, you could say,] “Wait. Maybe you have gone far enough. Maybe stopping after the part about Jesus in the boat could be a good place to stop and look for some spiritual observations?”

    [Note that some Bibles do not include “little” … other
    ‘little’ boats with them … We see the word “little” as valid in the Greek. Also the size of the boat adds more to understanding the commitment to hear Jesus by those in the little boats. Also “little” boats would have been in more danger in a storm than would the boat the disciples were piloting. But since all of the boats were at risk in the storm, it is just not something over which to make an issue.] 
  8. [Now encourage attendees to,] “Do what the wise counsellor did.” [I say “did” because I want the learners now to remember that the wise counsellor used questions. We want attendees to use every questioning tool that the wise counsellor used, even if the tool does not apply. For instance, in a certain section of a story, there might not be a choice or a result of a choice. Still, it is important to encourage the learners to pick up and try all of the tools, all of the questions, every time. Have them try the questions of, “What do those in this section of the story say and do, and what choices were made or could have been made that could show us something spiritual about the person? And are there results or long-range impact and what do we see about God?”]
  9. [You remind learners about what the wise counsellor did and asked, and you also mention The Path to remind attendees to go slowly so they can find more treasures.] 
  10. [After the group finds all they can in a section, you can ask if they have found everything and are ready to move on. If they say “yes,” and you as the tribe leader know more spiritual observations in that section, you can ask a few questions. For instance, people new to STS might have missed some of what is listed next as treasures in the story.

    So you might say,] “I am wondering. You talked about the choice the disciples made to keep working when their day had been long. And you said that their choice not to complain and to obey Jesus showed respect for Jesus and their servants’ hearts. Do you by any chance see any one else making a choice in this section of the story, and if you do, is there anything spiritual you might see?” [You want them to talk about Jesus’ choice to ask more from his followers than a normal work day and about those in the little boats who also decided to work at night to cross the sea after a long day in order to keep following Jesus.]
  11. [Again, emphasize that when looking for treasures, that they are to look at a section of the story at time in chronological order. When it is needed, keep reminding attendees,] “Remember the Path. Go slowly!” 
  12. [Continue now to ask,] ”What could we do next based on what the wise counsellor did?” We hope by then that the attendees have been empowered, and that they decide to tell the next part of the story and use the Wise Counsellor tools to find spiritual observations.]
  13. [Remember. In teaching the STS process, it is more beneficial to go slowly and go deeply into the story, than it is to make it through the story to the end. By making people slow down and go back and discover deep treasures in the Word of God that they had missed, they become more impressed than ever of the richness of Scripture. That experience you will just have given attendees will encourage and teach them to be more careful and to go more slowly for the time after a workshop that they prepare (study) Scripture STS style.] 
  14. [If you are NOT planning to demonstrate this story later for everyone in the workshop, you may at this time cover some of the treasures in the rest of the story. Toward the end of this 30 minutes allotted to looking for Spiritual Observations, you may only have covered half of the story. When you are about out of time, you could say] “For now this is all the time we can spend on looking for observations in the story. I hope by now you have seen how we used the same style of investigation that the wise counsellor used. We used a lot of the same questions that he used so that we could gain Spiritual Observation about those in the Storm story.] 
  15. [Do this to show that when a story is prepared for ministry use, the whole story is examined. It is good to do a quick overview of what a person could look at in the rest of the story. Amaze them at the wealth in this short familiar story by starting from where they as a Big Tribe just stopped in this Storm story, and taking them to the end of the story.]

    ”If we had no time limit, we would continue in the story and ask more of the
    Wise Counsellor questions. We would look at each of the remaining sections, such as the part of story that tells about the storm up to the part where the disciples woke Jesus and include what they said to Jesus. Using the Wise Counsellor questions we could probably gain spiritual observations from how the disciples responded to the storm, and what they were saying to Jesus and their choices.

    ”Then we could repeat the story from the spot where Jesus woke up and responded to the storm to the place in the story when the storm stopped.

    ”Lastly, we could repeat and discuss the story from after the storm stopped, when Jesus asked the disciples some questions up to the end of the story where the disciples are talking among themselves about Jesus.

    ”In each of those sections we would use the
    Wise Counsellor questions to discover spiritual observations about Jesus, from how He responded to the disciples when they came and woke Him, from what Jesus said and did, His choices and choices He could have made.

    ”Also in each section, we could look for what we might learn from what the disciples said and did, and choices they made and some other choices they could have made. In any section where you do find choices, what
    Wise Counsellor questions should we always ask in relation to those choices? [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.] “Right We look for results and long range impact, and who all was impacted.

    ”And in every section we ask, “What do we see about God?” Sometimes we see something. Most often it is not until the end of the story that we are able to see what God was doing in the story and in people’s lives.”

    [It is kind of important to mention one specific part of this story. We suggest asking a few questions o its contents, because finding the treasure it contains can really open the whole story to everyone. Do it now if this next key part was not already covered in the Big Tribe discussion.]

    “Jesus asked the disciples. ‘Why are you so afraid? How is it you have no faith?’ I am just wondering. What were the disciples supposed to be trusting when their boat is about to sink? I am just thinking that this is something that we as students of the Bible might want to discuss. I mean, it seems as if Jesus had been expecting a different response from the disciples. That could be a great discussion don’t you think?” Well, I am wondering if you think there might be some Spiritual Observations there that we might find right now?”
  1. In the last section of the story, you could use some questions to explore the disciple’s earlier fear of dying by drowning, to their increased fear of seeing a man who could control the elements. Another discussion could be based on what you see Jesus ‘do’ to the storm in the story. What Spiritual Observation can be brought up and discussed? [PAUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO THINK AND RESPOND.] “Yes. When you look at what Jesus said and did, even a person who knows nothing about Jesus can begin to consider, from the story, that Jesus is more than just a man.”
  2. The answers we find from using all of our questions would show us a lot more spiritual observations in the story. The Storm is a wonderful story to prepare and share STS style. Maybe yet in this workshop one of the instructors will do a full STS presentation on the Storm story? If not, when you have time, you can complete preparing the whole story in depth, STS style and then mediate on it a lot.

    ”For now, in this workshop, I want you to learn the STS process. Speaking of process, let’s now move on to learning the skill of forming questions.”