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The Big Story (PDF Download)

36 session outlines and reflective Bible stories exploring six big themes of God's love

Martyn Payne

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The Big Story contains a treasure bank of creative, visual storytelling sessions designed to unpack six big Bible themes. The approach connects up the whole story of the Bible and attempts to give an overview of God's purposes by seeing the Bible not as a collection of unrelated events but as an amazing and ordered revelation of God's love.

Each of the 36 sessions contains a wealth of thought-provoking activities and reflective ideas to accompany the storytelling. The material includes an initial overview in the form of a visual timeline of Bible history, designed to help children and their leaders gain the bigger perspective. The six themes are then each introduced by a reflective story that acts as an anchor for a further six individual stories. The material in The Big Story is ideal for 6 - 10 year olds.

The big themes explore:

  • Enemies and friends: God's longing for friendship with and between all people
  • Dark and light: the first gift of creation and abiding reality of re-creation
  • Famine and feast: the rhythm of abundance and shortage
  • Death and life: God's heart for bringing life out of places of destruction
  • Depths and heights: journeying with God from despair to joy
  • Hide and seek: experiencing the immediate presence and apparent absence of God

The material can be used in a variety of ways:

  • As a stand-alone resource to begin thinking about special times of year
  • To give an overview before picking out two or three of the individual stories
  • As the basis for a children's activity day or holiday club
  • As a three-term programme with one big theme being explored in each half-term period

The Barnabas Children's Bible, with its unique reordering of the stories into their chronological order, has inspired the development of The Big Story materials.

Download images of The Big Story and photocopiable pages from the book


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Author info

Martyn Payne joined the Barnabas Ministry team in January 2003. His previous work includes eighteen years as a teacher in East London and the National Children's Work Co-ordinator for CMS. Martyn is also an experienced children's work leader within the church and has trained others on a wide range of subjects, such as drama, storytelling, Christianity as a worldwide faith, signs and symbols, Godly Play, art and spirituality and cross-curricular RE. Based in London, he is available to lead training sessions, take workshops and help run special events throughout the UK. He is author of Footsteps to the Feast, The People's Bible and co-author of Bethlehem Carols Unpacked and A-Cross the World.


From The Church Times - August 2011

In The Big Story Martyn Payne develops the biggest themes of biblical narrative using storytelling, props, sound, and lighting. Each of the six themes, including life and death, and enemies and friends, includes a reflective over view to set the scene, and six related stories from the Old and New Testaments which develop the theme further. My favourite reflective story is the 'Story of the Story', which introduces a three-dimensional time line of the Bible, something that a whole congregation might enjoy.

The Big Story could be used weekly through the school year; the reflective overview used as the introduction to each season each half-term. The stories could also stand alone, although that might undermine the introduction of the meta-narrative. Like Godly Play, these resources are, perhaps, better used among those who already have some understanding of the Christian story, although they could be used where there is more time for questions and reflection - at a holiday club, for example.

Reviewed by The Revd Dana Delap

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841018133Z
  • Published: 20 May 2011
  • Status:
  • Format: PDF Download
  • Pages: 112
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