If you catch David and Becky Everly telling stories, they won’t be your run-of-the-mill fish tales. And, chances are, you will remember them.
“People remember stories, whereas we may not remember facts,” David said. “For example, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is, but Jesus told stories like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan to demonstrate love.”
So, what, exactly, is storytelling?
That’s the first question everyone has about the Everlys’ ministry. Borrowing a definition from professional storyteller Donald Davis, Becky said, “Storytelling is taking pictures you have in your mind and helping others see those same pictures.”
The Everlys, members of Chandler Baptist Church in Liberty, have been in ministry together more than 45 years. As a retired pastor and retired teacher, David and Becky now focus their time on storytelling — that is, teaching the art of oral storytelling and using it to bring characters alive during sermons or in classrooms. Their belief is everyone has a story but might not know how to tell it in a way that people will enjoy listening.
Basic Christianity is the telling of our story and God’s story. “It’s something of a lost art today,” David said. “It’s how the original Bible stories were passed down — through oral tradition, and telling stories was the main method Jesus used.”
Becky said oral storytelling is still used a lot around the world. “One emphasis we try to make with families, children and church folks is that we all have wonderful personal stories to tell and biblical stories to share,” she said. “Technology is great, but we cannot do with technology what we can do physically when we’re with somebody telling a story. You just don’t get the same richness of the story.”
The Everlys are on a mission to bring the art of storytelling back to life. They host workshops for churches or any group that is interested in learning how to tell great stories. David often incorporated his wife’s gift of storytelling into his sermons. Becky, a retired elementary school teacher, often visits classrooms, too, to bring history and other stories alive for kids.
For adults, there are three basic workshops: telling biblical, personal and inspirational stories. One way Becky does this is to help people think about different perspectives on biblical stories. For example, the story of the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, she suggested telling the story from the point of view of the boy who had the lunch.
A personal story is another way to think of your testimony. “We encourage people to tell those stories that happen every day or last week. Your life is like a straight line and then something happens to turn it upside down. That’s a story.”
Inspirational stories are those that have a biblical truth to them. “Telling a story about faith is much more important than what the three points of a sermon are,” David said. “The story says the point, and when it’s a good story, people get the points.”
Becky said some people primarily learn by listening, others by seeing and others by touching. “Jesus knew storytelling communicates to everyone,” she said. “You get all of those — the person who hears, the person who sees, the person who needs to be there, because if I not only step into the story, I bring that person with me. And you’ve got everybody. Jesus knew that.”
The Everlys are available to do a storytelling workshop for churches, associations or other groups. Contact them at 816.452.6511 or beckyeverly@ gmail.com.