By Brooke Helder, GACX Content Creator
“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Matthew 13:9 (NLT)
StoryRunners® equips people to develop oral Bible stories to launch church-planting movements among unreached people who don’t have access to the Bible. An oral Bible story is an abbreviated story from a passage of Scripture; it is easy to learn and retell, is biblically faithful, and is culturally appropriate. To date, the organization has developed oral Bible stories in 116 languages. But StoryRunners can’t accomplish their mission alone. It’s through their extensive partnerships that they are helping fulfill the Great Commission.
One of StoryRunner’s extensive collaborations is with GACX member Global Church Movements (GCM). GCM invited StoryRunners to develop an oral strategy to plant churches in countries where GCM is active. In these contexts, StoryRunners coaches local people in a four-week workshop to orally develop The Promise, a series of 42 Bible stories from Creation to the Return of Jesus, in their language. This workshop is called the School of Storying.
After the stories have been developed, participants go into their community to host Story Fellowship Groups (SFGs), the oral equivalent of a Bible study. The attendees are challenged to go and tell someone the story. The groups also include a time of worship and personal accountability to tell the story to someone else.Participants developing an oral Bible story together in Tanzania. Photo credit: Ted Wilcox, © Cru
After the School of Storying has been completed, StoryRunners uses those newly developed stories from The Promise to conduct a week-long church planting training. StoryRunners adapted GCM’s MC2 (Multiplying Churches and Communities) written curriculum into an oral curriculum. The MC2 curriculum uses stories to teach others to walk with Jesus, understand God’s story chronologically, learn ministry skills, and practice Acts 2 church characteristics. It also uses stories to help leaders increase their biblical knowledge and develop skills and character. After individuals complete MC2, they use their stories to share the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches in new areas.
StoryRunners and GCM also send their leaders to spread the Gospel in other oral cultures. In Tanzania, GCM selected eight interns to work for two years with StoryRunners. The interns have led School of Storying projects in three countries and are equipping others to lead School of Storying projects.
StoryRunners also collaborates with GACX member, e3 Partners Ministry. Like GCM, e3 Partners Ministry has individuals who linked arms with StoryRunners to host numerous School of Storying projects. Working with a Pioneers international missionary, e3 Partners Ministry, recently led a School of Storying in a Southeast Asian country. These missionaries trained local people to develop The Promise in their language. Additionally, they introduced the participants to use these stories for evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.
StoryRunners also offers virtual training for individuals and organizations who want to use oral Bible stories in their ministry. In 2020, a young missionary from Clarkston, Georgia, attended the virtual training and connected Karlena de la Cruz, StoryRunners’ Director of U.S. Strategies, to Renew World Outreach. Renew World Outreach is a member of GACX.
Renew World Outreach equips missionaries being sent into the field with various cutting-edge tools, including S.D. cards with the stories from The Promise. Renew World Outreach has been instrumental in connecting StoryRunners to other ministries in the Clarkston, Georgia, area so that StoryRunners can develop oral Bible stories with refugees in the United States.
Karlena states, “One of our core values is partnerships; it’s a part of our strategic plan.” StoryRunners’ partnerships with GACX members have resulted in individuals from oral cultures hearing the good news in ways that speak to their hearts.