I saw a great post on Problogger about storyselling and have think it is equally relevant for those of us serving in churches who are trying to communicate the greatest story ever told.
I remember being in a church service listening to our Pastor tell us a story about a person who shared their faith with a friend. After listening to the compelling story of how this person's life was turned around after they came to faith. It seemed like he had finished his story. But then he then introduced the person. They were at church. It was a powerful moment. What made it even more powerful was that he went on to tell the story of how this person then connected with another person, who connected with another person (and so on). Each of the people eventually made a decision for Christ and their lives were never the same again. Again, to our surprise he called them all up. There on the stage in a single line was a group of people who were a living breathing example of what can happen when one person has a courage to share their faith.
Instead of telling us all what we should be doing, our Pastor gave a perfect living illustration of the action he wished us to take though the power of story. That moment has stayed with me forever – and also moved me to want to tell others about Jesus.
Churches often instruct or exhort rather than share when communicating their vision or mission. I know that we can do better through telling stories rather than telling others what to do. Here are four ways to use storytelling to amplify your message:
1. Tell a story that demonstrates a need for what you're communicating – What is the compelling reason why you are communicating to your audience? Tell a story of before and after story transformation of how that ministry/event changed a life. Here is an example that I produced for a capital campaign that we did at Crossway. We raised $1.8 million in 3 weeks.
2. Show, don't tell – I love watching Man Vs Wild. Bear Grylls battles the elements, eats the most disgusting creatures, scales mountains with no safety equipment. He does it to demonstrate how to survive out in the wild. His show is wildly popular partly because it seems like he really is literally just surviving and his next step may end in disaster. But it his message feels more compelling because he is showing, not telling.
3. Make sure your message is relevant – I've seen some great creative communications but it isn't clear what exactly they are selling because they never actually get to the point. Tell a great story in the most creative possible way, but bring it back to the reason why you are telling them.
4. Be honest – Don't exaggerate the need. Don't over promise. I've seen people over and over again tell me this event will 'radically transform my life' and it hasn't. Sometimes it actually is a great event/experience but all of a sudden you have just raised the expectation bar to Olympian heights and my expectations are too high before I've even shown up. It's like the movie you've heard is brilliant and when you finally see it never quite lives up to what you were expecting.
What ways have you used storytelling to amplify your message?