"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form." - Jean Luc Godard
It’s not an original idea, really. But it is well said.
Jesus often spoke in parables, from mustard seeds to vineyard workers, and although there are times when (admit it) we all think, “Lord, just tell it to me straight up. What do you want me to do??” More often, the Spirit can work most poignantly through a simple parable, because parables have a way of seeping into our own stories—if our hearts are open to it—in a way that a direct statement doesn’t.
But he didn’t always relay his story through words. He healed the sick, brought sight to the blind, took a meal intended for one and fed it to thousands. That was partially because Jesus cared for the people who needed help, but he also knew that his actions were demonstrating who he IS in ways they may have otherwise never believed.
Stories build connections. They construct bridges. They make impressions and build credibility in ways nothing else can.
If you’ve ever seen an Alex’s Lemonade Stand anywhere, what you’re looking at is a personal story that is making a difference. Without the telling of Alex’s story, it might have gone the way of most lemonade stands, the proprietor actually losing money, serving just a few token cups of lemonade to neighbors with extra change in their pockets. Instead, it’s a nationwide organization that has raised $200 million for cancer research. A story (and hard work) did that.
Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn (forgive us, but #nashville)—the music is unique, the costumes are iconic, but the stories … those create the long-lasting impact.
Your ministry has an epic story somewhere. Your team members have stories. The people you have already reached, they have stories. Those stories are worth telling—not all of them, mind you—because you want to choose the ones that will stir something in your audience, not the ones that are just fun or therapeutic for you to tell.
Some storytelling basics:
- Think, and ask your team to think, “What ARE our stories, and which ones are worth telling?”
- Use a story about a specific experience or person/family. Broad overviews don’t hit home the way a real, detailed story does.
- Outline it and make sure it’s got a beginning, middle, and end.
- Discern the best way to tell it. Storyboard it for a video, try out a graphic element for your website, or practice simply telling the story out loud.
- Descriptive imagery = emotion. This is not a “just the facts, ma’am” moment.
Now jot down some notes and go tell your stories. We’d love to hear them.