Biblical Storytelling 2 Drew Willard PGE19

As long as Biblical Storytellers are willing to be guests for this podcast, I want to have an ongoing series that enables you to enjoy this art form. There are multiple reasons why I enjoy this art form, but one of the main reasons is that it combines two ancient practices–storytelling and the public reading of scripture.

Throughout human history storytelling has played a fundamental role in human culture. It is one of humanity’s oldest art forms. There has always been an entertainment dimension in story telling, but story has used to do so much more. Stories have been used to give people their sense of identity, their understanding of reality, the notion of their place in the world. Stories been used to teach, guide, enlighten, reveal, change minds, and motivate. This is only a small list of the ways story has been used.

For the Jewish and Christian heritage, story is the primary dimension of scripture. As such it is understood to be a primary means by which Jews and Christians claim to understand and experience God. Both Jews and Christians see as a central to their obligation to God the task of bearing witness to God and God’s deeds. In order to fulfill that task, storytelling is necessary.

Since story makes up the primary dimension of Jewish and Christian scripture, it is not surprising that the public reading of scripture has been integral to both traditions. From the time of Moses forward, the public reading of scripture has been a part of Jewish worship, and since Christianity was birthed within Judaism, that tradition carried over has continued.

For Christian’s the biblical story has an interplay of two components relating to the task of witness–the prophetic and the Gospel. In light of God’s holiness and justice, the prophetic holds up a standard that calls us into question and accountability for the sinfulness, brokenness, and evil we choose to create. In light of God’s loving nature, the Gospel gives reveals to us the good news that God reaches out to us for reconciliation, healing, and redemption. Christian witness to God is thus an interplay of being prophetic and proclaiming the Gospel.

To give us an example of how biblical storytelling is a means of the interplay of these two components, especially as the biblical story relates to present circumstances and events is my guest, Drew Willard.

Drew Willard is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, seeking to be what Dennis Dewey of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, Int. calls a “storyvangelist”. Biblical storytelling and graphic arts have been important interpretive skills he brings to ministry. Since the 1990s, he has been performing his own paraphrased translations of the Gospels – notably at 19 venues while on a roadtrip in 2007. He has used his drawings for PowerPoint presentations to accompany Lenten readings, as well as for bulletin cover illustrations. He has organized and participated in interfaith worship events – including “Evenings of Sacred Storytelling” with Jewish and Muslim storytellers. While on sabbatical in 2017, he was an artist-in-residence at the Grunewald Guild in Washington state. In the winter of 2019, he was a Fringe Teller at the Florida Storytelling Association annual festival in Mt Dora, FL and that summer, he performed as a Co-Creator at the Wild Goose Festival in Asheville, NC. A collection of Drew’s paraphrased translations and artwork Gospel Pilgrimage Stories was published in 2017 by Westbow. He is available for preaching, teaching, drawing & storytelling by mutual agreement.
Gospel Pilgrim Storyteller (website)
Drew Willard – Youtube (sample stories)
Gospel Pilgrimage Storytelling (program recitations)
Gospel Pilgrimage Stories (book) Westbow [ISBN-13: 978-1512777222]
This book describes connecting what stories you tell with recent events.

The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at