Not all of us are natural-born storytellers, as is illustrated by the following joke: once upon a time, a guy went on a tour of a story factory. As he walked through the factory, he heard a voice on the loudspeaker call out a number every few minutes. After each number was announced, there was a palpable reaction from the workers: laughter, tears, anger, or amazement. The guy asked his tour guide what was going on, and the tour guide said that the stories they produced at the factory were numbered. When a number was called out on the loudspeaker, people recalled the story and reacted accordingly. The guy asked if he could try. He was handed the microphone and called out “72!” What followed was the sound of crickets. The guy asked why there was no reaction from the workers, and the tour guide said, “Some people just don’t know how to tell a story!”
Storytelling is an art form that some people are gifted with, while others of us may struggle to engage people with our limited storytelling abilities. Today, however, because of technology, we can greatly enhance our own ability to “tell a story” through the effective use of audiovisual resources. Notice I said enhance, not replace! In the arena of faith formation, nothing can replace the presence of a catechist who is a flesh-and-blood disciple of Jesus Christ in the midst of apprentices.
You do not need to be a techie in order to effectively integrate audiovisual resources into your lessons. If necessary, “deputize” one of your students to be your tech assistant. Beyond knowing how to work the technology, however, is the more important aspect of knowing how to maximize the impact of the audiovisual resource you are using. A video or CD or other such resource should never be a way to fill time or solely entertain. Rather, it should be a way to accomplish one of the following goals for your lesson:
- grab the attention of your learners and introduce the theme you are teaching.
- provide a contemporary illustration of the concept of your lesson.
- deliver the content of our faith tradition in an engaging manner.
- reinforce your own delivery of the content.
- summarize the main point(s) of your lesson.
- provide an inspiring message and/or practical strategies for applying the message of the lesson to daily living.
Unless your planned activity is accomplishing one of the above, it has no business in your lesson and is just filling time. When integrated properly into a lesson, however, audiovisual resources can enhance your ability to effectively tell the amazing story of our Salvation in Jesus Christ.
God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist incorporates audiovisual resources in meaningful ways. Learn more about the CDs with music, guided reflections, and Scripture stories, and the God’s Gift DVD series, which includes chapter-by-chapter tracks and video tutorials that help children take to heart prayers and practices of our faith.