Story Development Process

Appendix
STORY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
During each cycle, six phases are used to produce BONA-fide stories that are Biblically accurate,
Orally reproducible, Naturally told, and Appropriate to the audience (culture). Your Focus Audience
(FA) is the group of people that you want to evangelize and disciple with the stories.
Important: before each phase, review the process,
even if you are not leading it!
These are the phases of the Story Development Process:
1. Story Learning Phase
Goal: Get a first-draft recording of the story told by the storyteller
2. Group Check Phase
Goal: For all development groups to see what other stories are being developed, and for
the groups to prepare for the People Check Phase
3. People Check Phase
Goal: Get feedback by someone with no prior knowledge of the Bible about the words
used, main points, retellability, and inferences made
4. Group Re-Check Phase
Goal: Ensure all the stories fit together as one large story with regards to consistency of
terms and story transitions
5. Showcase Check Phase
Goal: “Test-drive” the story in a condensed SFG
6. Studio Recording Phase
Goal: Get a clean, high-quality recording of the story
To begin the Story Development Process, the participants will be separated into six development
groups of three people each. Each person will choose one of the three roles: guide, storyteller, or
helper.
Guide: The role of the guide is to lead the group during the story development process. This
person will manage the recorders and lead each phase of the process to ensure consistency.
They will also offer suggestions to help the storyteller learn the story.
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Storyteller: The role of the storyteller is to learn and tell the Bible story. It is important that the
storyteller tells the story in a style that is natural to the culture and that s/he uses common
everyday language.
Helper: The role of the helper is to assist the guide and the storyteller in the story development
process. This person will listen and give feedback to help the storyteller tell a really good story
that will connect with the focus audience. The helper also serves as the back-up storyteller in
the event the storyteller becomes unavailable.
If there are more than three people in the development group, the extra people are helpers.
Optional: During the first week, the trainers will model or demonstrate each phase of the process prior
to the individual groups proceeding. The trainer will do this by asking the guides or assistant trainers
to play a role in the demonstration. It is important to prepare those assisting with the demonstration
about their role and how the lead trainer will coach them during each phase. A simple story like
Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10) is useful to model because it has difficult words and is short enough to work
with. While the rest of the participants observe the demonstration, give them questions to answer that
will require careful observation of the demonstration.
Reminder: this is a refining process and the story will
constantly be made better through each phase of the
process. Keep in mind that changes may still need to
be made to the story after the Studio Recording
Phase. The participants should continually be telling
their stories even after the group is finished
developing it. It is important that the storyteller
learns the story orally.
1. STORY LEARNING PHASE (GREEN)
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Goal: The goal of the Story Learning Phase is to get a first-draft recording of the story told by the
storyteller.
The development group will model their time after the story-learning part of an SFG.
1. The guide will first play the Bible passage recordings from the resource/silver recorder for the
group twice. If there are Bible passage recordings available in both the local and trade
language, the guide will play each language recording once.
2. After the group has listened to the recordings, the group will work together to recount what
happens in the story. Focus on getting the sequence of events correct, without spending a lot
of time on minor details.
3. The storyteller will choose a learning method to help the group learn the story, and play the
recording once more if needed while using the learning method. For example, if the group
wants to use hand motions, the group will listen to a part of the passage and come up with a
hand motion associated with that scene. Repeat for each scene of the story. If the group
wants to do a drama, they will listen to a scene of the passage and then act that scene out.
4. After going through the whole story with their learning method, the storyteller will try to tell the
whole story with the learning method, and the group will help in case the storyteller misses
anything.
5. The group will discuss any revisions that may need to be made to the story.
6. The storyteller tells the story again while the guide records it onto the story/red recorder
7. The group listens to the Bible passage recording again and listens for significant differences
between the story and the passage.
8. The group discusses whether the story needs to be revised, and makes another recording of
the story if needed.
Important: every member of the group should learn
the story and be able to tell it, not just the storyteller!
While the development group is going through these steps, the trainer assigned to assist the table will
sit down with the group, show them the visual resources, and lead the group through a discussion
using the SFG questions:
1. What do you like about the story? What do you think your people will like about the story?
2. What do you find difficult or confusing about the story? What do you think your people will find
difficult or confusing about the story?
3. What does the story teach about mankind/people?
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4. What does the story teach about God/Jesus?
Since the trainer has to visit multiple development groups, they should visit the first of their groups that
finishes listening to the passage twice and recounting the story. Then, when they’re done discussing
with that group, move onto the others. It’s helpful for the trainer to take notes on the group’s
responses.
During the discussion, the trainer should be listening for what the group thinks is the main idea of the
story, what things in the story connects with their culture, and what things need to be
amplified/simplified. The trainer should use this information to help guide the group in making a good
story. They should also use this information later in the cycle to see if the story is accomplishing the
purpose the group intended for it. The trainer should be prepared to fill in any coverage points the
group missed and any contextual/background information that may be necessary to the story but not
found in the text. Refer to the Story Reference Guides for these.
The trainer should also ask the storyteller to tell the story and ask about the learning method the group
used. If the group is having trouble with the learning method, the trainer should be prepared to help
them.
Preliminary Back Translations
Sometime before the People Check Phase, each trainer should get a Preliminary Back Translation
(PBT) from each of the development groups they are coaching. A PBT is a quick translation of the
story back into English done by a translator who knows the local language and English. The PBT
should be obtained from a translator listening to the group’s story recording. Each trainer can get a
PBT from their development group during the Story Learning Phase (if there’s time), or one trainer can
get the PBTs for all six stories during the Group Check (if they’re not leading it). It can be typed, but
it’s not necessary.
The PBT is used to help the trainer know what’s in the story in order to coach the group adequately,
but more importantly, it’s used to help the trainer formulate the Story Specific Questions (SSQs) their
group will ask during the People Check Phase. Because the SSQs need to use the exact wording of
the story, the PBT should be a word-for-word translation of the story into English. Each story needs
4-6 SSQs, and they need to be translated and given to the groups by the start of the People Check
Phase. For a list of sample SSQs for each story, see the SSQ Resource (--).
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2. GROUP CHECK PHASE (YELLOW)
Goal: The goal of the Group Check Phase is for all development groups to see what other stories are
being developed so they can see how their story fits into the context of the larger story set.
Secondarily, it is for the groups to prepare for the People Check Phase.
The trainer leading the session should be prepared with the Key Term List which has, for each story,
the Key Terms in that story in English a nd in the local language (these should be gotten when the
resource recordings for that cycle are made). The trainer will refer to this list during the Group Check
Phase so they know which stories have which Key Terms, and whether the story is using the Biblical
term in the local language.
The storytellers from each group line up in front of the room in story order. While each story is told,
the other participants should be listening for words/phrases that may need to be checked during the
People Check Phase.
The first storyteller will tell their story to the large group. The trainer leading the session will ask the
development group if there was a difficulty they had while developing the story they would like to ask
the larger group for help with. After that brief discussion, the trainer will ask the large group if there
were any words/phrases that may need to be checked during the People Check Phase. This is NOT a
time to have a discussion and make a decision about what words/phrases should be used. This is
simply a time for the participants to identify what should be checked with the guests, and what other
possibilities there are for the word/phrase. This should not be a lengthy discussion.
Example: in cycle 1, if the “The Soils” storyteller says
“disciple”, the participants can make a list of
alternative wordings for that term to check with the
guests, but they should not discuss which term they
think is best.
If multiple stories in the cycle use the same term, and one of the participants identifies it as something
that should be checked during the People Check Phase, and the participants come up with multiple
different wordings that might work, tell the storytellers to all use different words to test during the
People Check Phase. One of the trainers should be making notes of all the words that were identified
to check during the People Check Phase.
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Example: in cycle 1, the “The Soils” storyteller says
“disciple”, and the participants say that term should
be checked. They come up with a list of possible
alternate wordings, including “student”, “close
follower”, and “friend”. Since that term also appears
in “The Weeds” and “Astonishment 1”, tell the “The
Soils” storyteller to use the term “student”; tell the
“The Weeds” storyteller to use the term “close
follower”; tell the “Astonishment 1” storyteller to use
the term “friend”. Then, each of the three terms can
be checked during the People Check Phase.
After each story is told and discussed in succession, the trainer should sit with their development
groups and discuss the changes the group will need to make to their story. They should talk through
the transition and context of the story, now that the group has heard what other stories are being
developed around it. They should also give feedback based on the PBT in the following areas: story
flow (is it a good story?), naturalness (figures of speech, biblical language, etc.), and coverage points.
Once the group has made changes to the story, the storyteller should practice the story with the new
changes, and make a new recording of the story on the story/red recorder.
3. PEOPLE CHECK PHASE (ORANGE)
Goal: The goal of the People Check Phase is to get feedback on the stories by someone with no prior
knowledge of the Bible in the following four areas:
● Do they understand the words used in the story?
● Do they understand the main points of the story?
● Can they retell the story accurately?
● What information are they inferring about the story that may lead to understanding the story
incorrectly or telling it inaccurately?
Each development group will have two different sessions, each with a different “guest” (someone with
no prior knowledge of the Bible). The storytellers do not sit with their development groups; they are off
in a different place practicing their stories together and receiving feedback on how to improve their
storytelling style. The guide in each group leads this time with the guests, and the helper takes notes
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if needed (the story will be played from the story/red recorder, and the guest’s feedback will be
recorded in Folder B of the resource/silver recorder).
Some guidelines for the participants as they interact with the guests during this time:
● This is not a time to preach. You should not be telling the guest what to think or teaching them
about the story.
● Make it clear that no answer is a bad answer. Even if the guest says “I don’t know”, it tells you
something about your story. You’re not searching for a “right” answer, you’re searching for an
“honest” answer.
● If the guest has a question about the story, defer it until you’ve finished the process. Your job
first and foremost is to get feedback on your story, so make sure that gets done first. Any
leftover time can be spent answering their questions.
● The point of this phase is not to simply follow a list of steps for the sake of following the steps,
but to get information that will help you get to a better story. If the guest answers a question in
a particularly vague or interesting way, feel free to ask follow-up questions and explore their
thoughts.
For each session, this is the process each group will follow:
1. Welcome the guest. Make them feel at home and comfortable. Tell them briefly what you’ll be
doing during this time. Let them know you’re not testing their memory or knowledge, but the
story. The more at-ease the guest is, the better feedback they’ll give.
2. The guest plugs their headphones into the setup, and the guide plays the story once.
3. When the story has finished, the guide asks the following GENERAL questions and records
the answers .
a. What do you like about the story?
b. What was confusing or difficult to understand about the story?
c. What does the story teach about God/Jesus?
d. What does the story teach about mankind/people?
4. Tell the guest you’ll play the story a few more times and ask them to retell it. The guide plays
the story twice and ask the guest to retell it and records it .
5. The guide plays the story once or twice more and asks the guest to retell it again to see if they
picked up any more details they left out during the first retelling. Again, record it . The goal is
for the guest to get 100% of the content even if they use different words.
6. The guest plays the story again, asking the SPECIFIC questions along the way. Play the story
until just after a part with a SSQ; then, stop the recording, and ask the question, recording the
guest’s answer . Repeat this process until all the SSQs are asked.
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Example: if there’s a SSQ about the term “disciple”,
play the story until just after the storyteller says the
word “disciple”. Stop the recording, ask the
question, and then resume the recording.
7. Thank the guest for their time.
8. If there’s any remaining time before the session ends, ask the guest if they have any questions
about the story, or answer any questions they had during the session.
After the first session, the guests switch to a new development group. All the guests move to the next
story. The guest at group 1 goes to group 2, the guest at group 2 goes to group 3, etc. The guest at
group 6 goes to group 1.
Example: during the first session, Albert is with
development group 1; Betty is with group 2; Calvin is
with group 3; Deborah is with group 4; Edward is with
group 5; Frank is with group 6. During the second
session, after the guests switch, Frank goes to group
1; Albert goes to group 2; Betty goes to group 3;
Calvin goes to group 4; Deborah goes to group 5;
Edward goes to group 6.
After both sessions are finished, the storytellers return to their groups and discuss with them how the
guests retold the story and answered the questions. Each trainer sits down with their groups to help
them make changes to their stories based on the guests’ responses. The trainer should ask both
about the retellings (How did they retell the story? Were there any parts they left out or changed
significantly? Were there any parts the guests did a better/more natural job of retelling?) and the
questions (What did they like or find confusing? What did they think the story teaches about God and
man? How did they understand the specific words/phrases you asked them about?). It will be
important to work with the group to help them make appropriate changes to their story. Each trainer
should make notes on how the guests responded to the specific words/terms that were brought out
during the Group Check Phase, and how the guests answered all the general and specific questions.
They should then inform the trainer leading the Group Recheck Phase about the key terms, and enter
the question answers into OSE.
After deciding what changes to make to the story, the storyteller should practice the story with the
changes. Encourage them to use a learning method to go through the story again; preferably a
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different one than they used during the Story Learning Phase. The storyteller should end with making
a new recording of the story with the changes.
4. GROUP RE-CHECK PHASE (PURPLE)
Goal: The goal of the Group Re-Check Phase is to ensure all the stories fit together as one large story
(focusing on consistency of terms and transitions)
The trainer leading this session should be prepared with the Key Term List for all the stories, as well
as the list of words/phrases the groups checked during the People Check Phase.
The first thing the trainer will do is address the Key Terms that were checked during the People Check
Phase. For each of the Key Terms, ask the groups that checked those terms how their guests
understand the words they used. Based on the guests’ feedback (and what you know from the other
trainers), decide which word/phrase is best understood for each Key Term, and have all the stories
use that word/phrase. If multiple words/phrases are equally well understood, have the local spiritual
authority make the decision about which word/phrase to use. If none of the words/phrases were
understood well, ask the guests (if they’re in the room) to supply some suggestions. If the guests
aren’t in the room, the local spiritual authority should decide on a different word/phrase for the stories
to use until a future cycle when further words/phrases can be checked.
Once all the Key Terms that were checked have been discussed, the groups change the Key Terms in
their stories and the storytellers practice the story with the changes. Once the storytellers have told
their changed story a few times, all the storytellers line up at the front of the room in story order. The
storytellers tell their stories one after the other, while the rest of the participants listen to make sure the
transitions sound smooth and all the stories are using consistent words/phrases for Key Terms. The
trainer should be following along with their list of agreed upon words/phrases along with a translator,
getting a running translation of the stories and checking to make sure the correct words are being
used. At this point, the stories should be mostly finished; there should NOT need to be
significant changes to the stories. After all 6 stories are finished, the participants discuss if further,
minor changes need to be made.
5. SHOWCASE CHECK PHASE (BLUE)
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Goal: The goal of the Showcase check is for the storyteller to see if their story is able to be retold and
understood correctly in a condensed SFG focusing on learning and discussing the story.
In the Showcase Check, the storytellers lead an SFG with their stories as a final check to see if their
story can be understood and retold correctly. A showcase group is made up of two development
groups: groups 1 and 2 combine together, groups 3 and 4 combine together, and groups 5 and 6
combine together. The storytellers for each group, however, will switch: the storytellers for groups 1
and 2 will join groups 3 and 4; the storytellers for groups 3 and 4 will join groups 5 and 6; the
storytellers for groups 5 and 6 will join groups 1 and 2. The guests will go to the first groups they were
with during the People Check Phase.
Example: in cycle 1, during the People Check Phase, Albert heard “Authority” then “Forgiven”;
Betty heard “Forgiven” then “The Soils”; Calvin heard “The Soils” then “The Weeds”; Deborah
heard “The Weeds” then “Astonishment 1”; Edward heard “Astonishment 1” then “Freed”;
Frank heard “Freed” then “Authority”. During the Showcase Check Phase, groups 1 and 2
combine, groups 3 and 4 combine, and groups 5 and 6 combine. Albert and Betty join groups
1 and 2; Calvin and Deborah join groups 3 and 4; Edward and Frank join groups 5 and 6.
Because the storytellers rotate, Albert and Betty (along with groups 1 and 2) will learn and
discuss the stories “Astonishment 1” and “Freed”; Calvin and Deborah (along with groups 3
and 4) will learn and discuss the stories “Authority” and “Forgiven”; Edward and Frank (along
with groups 5 and 6) will learn and discuss the stories “The Soils” and “The Weeds”.
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Since each Showcase Check group has two storytellers, there will be two sessions back to back, so
each storyteller will get a chance to lead the group in learning and discussing their story. This will be
like an SFG, but will not include any worship or application questions. The focus is on the group
learning and discussing the story. The storyteller should be paying attention to how the members of
the group (especially the guests) retell the story to see if there were any particularly difficult spots, or if
someone worded something in a more natural way. Also, the storyteller should be paying attention to
how the members of the group (especially the guests) discuss what they liked, what was confusing,
and what the story teaches about God and people.
If the story being learned and discussed in the showcase group is a story that will be taught to all the
participants in a morning SFG later on in the SOS, someone from the group needs to be chosen to
lead that later SFG. Either the storyteller can choose someone, or the group can decide. A trainer
should inform the showcase storyteller if their story will be one used in an SFG, and find out who will
lead it. Unless everyone in the group has led an SFG, someone should be chosen who hasn’t led one
yet.
After both sessions have finished, the development groups reconvene and discuss how the Showcase
Check went. The storyteller briefs the group about the experience. Trainers should be visiting their
groups during this time, asking them the following questions:
● Could the group members learn and retell the story accurately? If not, which parts did they
omit/significantly alter?
● Did anyone say a part of the story more naturally?
● Did the members understand the story correctly? Think back to how your group answered the
questions during the Story Learning Phase about what you liked and found confusing, what the
story teaches about God and people. Did the group members answer those same questions
similarly?
Trainer should assess if the story needs any further revisions, and if so, guide the group in revising the
story.
Whether or not the group makes any changes to the story at this point, the storyteller should make a
recording of the story. Once the recording is finished, the group will do their second round of Bible
Checking.
6. STUDIO RECORDING PHASE (RED)
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Goal: The goal of the Studio Recording Phase is to get a clean, high-quality recording of the story that
the team can back-translate with someone who’s unfamiliar with the story. This back-translation will
be checked line-by-line against the Bible by the trainers to determine if the story is acceptable.
At the end of the development process, each storyteller will tell their story while a trainer records it on
a high-quality recorder. This should be done in a separate area, away from the rest of the training to
keep outside noise levels as minimal as possible. A makeshift recording studio should be set up in
advance for this purpose.
Each storyteller will come to the studio one at a time along with one member of his development
group. The trainer should brief the storyteller about what’s going to happen and pray for the recording
time. The trainer will set up the recorder and lapel mic, and have the storyteller tell their story once to
check the level (record this “practice” time, in case it turns out to be the best telling).
Important: make the storyteller feel as comfortable as
possible. The more natural of a setting it is, the more
natural the story will be.
Once the level is set, the storyteller will tell their story to their group member while the trainer who’s
recording sits off to the side out of sight. A translator should be in the room following along in the
Bible. Once the story is finished, the trainer will ask the storyteller and group member if the story was
told as they developed it. If they’re satisfied, the trainer will ask the translator if there were any
inconsistencies between their story and the Bible. The translator should not advise the group
about any possible changes on his own. He should tell the trainer if he noticed anything, and
the trainer should decide if it’s necessary to be changed. If the story needs to be retold, the
storyteller will tell the story again. If the storyteller needs more than three tries to tell the story, they
should go out to practice while another group comes in to record. Repeat this process with all six
stories from the cycle.
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