“Try 3-sentence stories in a family setting, a Christian formation class, an Adult forum, a church school class, or youth group.”
The Power of Three-Sentence Stories
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
For Christians, the above three-sentence story is the essence of our faith: Christ’s victory over death and the promise of his return. Some Christians say these words every time they share bread and wine in the Holy Communion. Even small children can recite and remember these words.
Three-sentence stories are one of my favorite ways to order muddled thoughts. As a Christian formation tool, they give adults and children a safe and playful framework to organize and express ideas. I use 3-sentence stories in workshops and retreats, often as a way for people to summarize what they heard from a passage of Scripture. The stories can be oral or written.
Teaching 3-Sentence Stories
To teach the 3-sentence story form to children, start with a concrete, oral version. Ask them to describe the clothes they are wearing or what they ate for breakfast this morning. Give an example.
I ate one fried egg with a runny yolk.
The toast was too dark and crisp.
My coffee had cream and sugar in it.
When and How to Use this Tool
Three-sentence stories can be written as a private practice, but as a group activity they build community. Try 3-sentence stories in a family setting, a Christian formation class, an Adult forum, a church school class, or youth group. In my experience most people love to read their stories aloud. The collective result feels like a playful and powerful poetry jam. Because the stories are short, many people get to share.
As an Advent and Christmas Activity
Advent lends itself to writing and telling these simple stories. The rich vocabulary, characters, seasonal customs, and Bible stories provide opportunities to use this tool. Here are a few examples:
Tell a 3-sentence story about an Advent practice in your home:
We have purple candles in our wreath.
Purple is the new Red.
Like a traffic light, it signals STOP, wait, pay attention.
Tell a 3-sentence story about a character from the Bible:
Mary was a Jewish teenager.
The angel asked if she would be the mother of God’s son.
Mary said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
In Advent we often talk about the word Hope. Write a 3-sentence story about what you hope for.
I hope for great schools and great healthcare for everyone.
I want to see older people have more choices for their lives.
I hope God will help me become a less judgmental person.
Proclaim Christmas in Three Sentences!
Here’s another idea for a 3-sentence story. I want to proclaim the Nativity with as much impact as “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” I want to highlight the miracle of the Incarnation, God’s presence on earth as the flesh and blood human named Jesus. So here is my first draft to capture the power and importance of the Nativity Season –Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany:
Christ is longed for.
Christ is born.
Christ will spread like wildfire.
What is your 3-sentence story for the Nativity Season?
Sybil MacBeth is the author of Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God and The Season of the Nativity: Confessions and Practices of an Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Extremist. Check out her website at prayingcolor.com. She first learned about 3-sentence stories from Interplay, “a global social movement dedicated to ease, connection, human sustainability and play.”
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