Book Review: Truth that Sticks by Avery T. Willis Jr. and Mark Snowden

In “Truth That Sticks” Avery Willis walks through the change in American culture from a reading society to an oral learning society.  I accept his statistics and points, but am unable to verify them.  I can, however, say that people in my community and church do not read as much as they did 20 years ago.  People seem to be far more oriented to television, the internet and texting.  I also can say that people enjoy stories and always have. 

Avery’s desire is to present “How to Communicate Velcro Truth in a Teflon World.”  God’s truth is the crux of life, but our post-modern society is quick to choose only what it wants and it acts like it is the final judge of what truth is.  Hence, the possibility and importance of telling stories to answer questions for the world.  His appendix, “Why the Johnnys of America Can’t, Don’t, or Won’t Read” provides a good explanation why and how our society has changed in learning style.

People often think telling stories is for children.  I don’t think someone like a Garrison Keillor would agree with them.  Many of you will remember great storytellers like Mark Twain, JD Salinger, Edgar Allen Poe, John Updike, F Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King and Washington Irving.  I find people normally remember one of my illustrations far longer than they remember an expositional outline.  I would not, however, exchange exposition of God’s Word to proclaim the truth or provide answers to life’s questions.  Yet, could story-telling be an essential ingredient to reaching people AND preparing leaders to multiply in making disciples?

Avery Willis has been working with a church in Post Falls, Idaho, called Real Life Ministries.  They’ve been able to expand a church plant to 700 small groups in ten years in part due to story- telling in their small groups.  They also have a laser focus on their purpose and what they are trying to produce.  People with little to no biblical background are able to read through a passage many times and tell it in a story to a small group and then the group goes back over the story looking at the biblical passage to note what was added or left out and the leader facilitates several questions regarding the story.

This is not about dumbing down the truth or helping people become lazy regarding Bible study. It’s about reaching the world of people who need a leader to help them become disciples of Jesus Christ.  It’s also about helping people remember the content of holy Scriptures in a way that they see their role in multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ to reach the world

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