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How to Tell a Story That Changes Lives

I have a four-year-old daughter who can tell a story like none you’ve ever heard. Unless, of course, you have ever heard a four-year-old tell a story, in which case you know what I mean. It’s filled with crazy details that have nothing to do with the story. It weaves a maniacal path that is virtually impossible to follow. And at the end of the story, if there ever is one, you’re left feeling like you need a translation or at the very least subtitles.

Storytelling is one of the 12 Essentials of Church Communications because it is one of the most impactful ways to communicate the vision of the church. Done wrong, and it can be a lot like my daughter’s stories; but done well, and it will capture the attention of your audience, focusing them on the vision of your church, ultimately challenging them or compelling them to live it out in their own lives.

With 5 simple strategies, you can tell real, life-change stories that capture the attention of your audience and move them to action.

Step One:  Set the Stage –What Was Happening?

“I was at a student ministry camp where I met another student pastor who seemed to be very irrationally angry.”

Step Two:  Introduce the Tension Point – What Was the Problem?

“He was struggling with a message that was going to be taught to the students that night and wasn’t sure he wanted his students to hear the message. His reaction was not a normal one, and I knew there had to be more to his story.”

Step Three:  Decide to React – What Part Did You, the Storyteller, Have in Solving the Problem?

“I decided I would just simply ask him if there was something else that was wrong, something other than the message. I was very surprised, and not at all prepared for the lifelong secret that he needed to share with someone. And even more surprised that he shared it with me.”

Step Four:  Share the Resolution – Tell How the Problem Was Resolved?

“He shared with me a story of childhood verbal and physical abuse, one he’d never shared with anyone else. But as he told his story, I could actually see the relief on his face. All those years he’d held onto that story, with no one to tell, and simply being able to speak the words, set him free.”

Step Five:  Show the Future – What’s the Point of the Story?

“We often talk about the importance of having real biblical community around here. Being allowed to be a part of that community for this man was life changing for me, and I imagine for him as well.”

This is a real story of life-change. It’s a very simplified version of the story, but it makes the point well. With 5 simple steps, you can direct anyone’s story to be a well-told, life-impacting story. Don’t overlook storytelling as one of your 12 Essentials of Communication.

What are some ways your church uses storytelling to cast vision?