Orality: a trusted way of sharing the Gospel


(Credit: living waters international )
International (MNN) — In a technology-ridden
world, we can forget that sometimes, maybe the
best way to do something is the way it’s been done
since the beginning of time.
This is how Living Water International feels about
how the Bible is shared.
Jerry Wiles of Living Water International tells us
about the merits of orality, or “a reliance upon non-
written communication,” as he explains it, when
sharing the story of Jesus with others.
By taking the media of spoken word, song,
storytelling, drama, parables, poems, proverbs,
and visual arts, Living Water International hopes to
promote reaching people with the Gospel in a way
that is simple, effective, and reproducible.
On their Web site, Living Water stresses that this
method is biblical and understandable, as well.
“Orality is really a superior way of Bible teaching:
telling stories so it’s more interactive, it’s
engaging, it’s participatory, and it sticks,” Wiles
says. He explains that the behavior change is
more evident when people are engaging in the
Word actively and together rather than when they
read it on their own.
Living Water International holds training
conferences to teach others how to participate.
What’s surprising is that even though we have to
learn how to use orality, this concept isn’t really
anything new. For one thing, many unreached
cultures depend primarily, if not solely, on non-
written communication.
And check these worldwide numbers: “It’s
progressively changing the way we do things
because [we have] a better understanding now that
70% of the world’s population would be considered
oral learners by necessity or by preference,” says
Wiles. “That’s 5.7 billion people in the world who
can’t, don’t, or won’t read, or prefer to learn by
means other by written instruction or print-based
In areas where Living Water International brings
clean water to those without, the percentages
climb even higher than 70%.
So if storytelling is the way to engage the large
majority of the world, across various cultural and
lingual barriers, how do we begin?
Wiles says we have a very good example: “Jesus
is our best model as a communicator, as a trainer,
as a disciple-maker. So how did He do it? Well He
told stories and parables; He created relationships
in community in a way that was reproduced for
1500 years until the Church became more
dependent on literacy based [communication].”
Living Water International says orality is the
fastest growing movement in evangelism today. It
makes sense when you consider groups of people
who don’t have a written language or the Bible in
their language yet. However, this way of teaching
can be applied in Western countries as well.
Wiles says, for “churches that are sending people
on short-term mission trips, the leadership often
learn about orality, and they want the training for
people who are going on short-term mission trips,
whether it’s Latin America, or Africa, or some other
[place]. But once they see how it works, they see
that it’s universal in its application; it’ll work right
here in the United States and in our churches.”
To fully understand orality as Living Water
International teaches it, you’ll have to experience
it, says Wiles. You can find more information about
Living Water International and orality on there website.
In the meantime, ask God to protect His servants
and to guide them in biblical truthfulness as they
share His Word throughout the world.
The next annual conference is coming up this
October and will take place in Nairobi, Kenya


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