There’s a reason why most of the Bible consists of stories – they are an incredible tool that God uses to grab our attention and draw us closer to Him. Jesus himself used stories as a way to communicate Truth to his people.
Have you ever considered the idea that a story may be the greatest tool in your ministry toolbelt?
There’s something about a good story that pulls on our heartstrings and moves us towards action. So how can we use stories to engage with attenders? How can storytelling lead people towards Christ and towards community?
We recently got together with Jonathan Meisner, Director of Digital Storytelling at Life.Church, and learned some tips and tricks to capturing and communicating stories that will make an impact for the Kingdom.
Here are 5 storytelling tips that will help you bring vision to your church!
1. Identify the Value.
Before you go searching for a story, first identify the value that you want the story to showcase. Sometimes there are a few, but just pick one. This one thing can be centered on a core value of your ministry. Once you identify your vision for the story, keep it in front of you. Don’t be afraid to cut things you really love about the interview if they don’t stay on the target to the theme or purpose of the story.
2. Structure Your Story.
What makes a story great is the way you tell it! The natural arc of a story should ask these questions:
- What’s the problem? How did they feel during the problem?
- What’s the solution to that problem?
- What have you or they seen as a result of the problem?
People remember the high, the low, and the last thing that people say. When communicating a story, it can be helpful to strategically place any pull quotes right at the beginning. Doing this will pull someone in right away, but always save your best quote for last because that will be what sticks with your audience!
3. Ask Great Questions.
When capturing a story, it’s important to be direct with questions when you need to be. Here are some great questions you can ask that will draw out the right information:
- How did you hear about us?
- What created this need? What led you to this?
- How has this been helpful to you?
- Tell me how you were feeling in [situation]?
- After you found the solution, how did you feel?
- What would you have done without this solution?
As you’re listening to someone’s story, you can begin to determine what it may be right for. Would it be a great video to capture? Could you tell this story from stage or during a message? Would it be better written out for use on social media? As you’re thinking about the medium your story might best be used for, be sure and ask questions that will help you paint the picture. This will help to bring people into the setting of the story so that they can understand more about where this occurred or in what context that it happened.
4. Listen and Learn.
Listen for a solution to a problem or for a core value of your ministry that you could tie into the story. What were they feeling during the story? What events took place? Don’t leave out any of these key details as you’re listening. Be sure to capture specific quotes and make notes of some of the ones you want to highlight later.
5. Cut the Fat.
Remember the value that you identified before you began this process? Sometimes the thing that you love most about a story sometimes has to be let go in order for that vision to shine. This means that sometimes your favorite quotes won’t quite fit the way you were hoping. The final thing you should always do is ask yourself this question: was I moved by this story? If not, identify what details might be in the way of an emotional response to this story. Maybe there are details that need to be added in order to evoke the feelings that you’re hoping for.
Once you make the proper adjustments, be sure and tie your story together by leading your audience somewhere. What do you want them to do with this story? It all points back to the purpose that you identified in the beginning.
Whether it’s about how God is making a difference in people’s lives or what He’s doing in your community, stories are a great way to showcase who God is and how He is working. We all need a little reminder sometimes of the ways God is moving that we can’t always see! Stories most definitely bring hope, remind people of God’s character, and encourage the Church as they walk in faith.
Whether through spoken word, written word, or video, storytelling truly is the greatest tool in your ministry toolbelt. It’s always the right time to seek out stories, cultivate them, and begin to share them with your church!
Want to hear more from Jonathan about how to structure a story? Check out Storytelling: The Beginning, Middle, and End.
If you’re looking to share a story through video, check out Shoot Engaging Videos Using Your Phone for tips from Life.Church filmmaker, Jesse Doland.
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