Here’s a concept I think could single-handedly revolutionize your communications. Thinking scene-by-scene.

My friend, Jason Young, and I talk about this concept in our new book The Come Back Effect . We apply it primarily to a guest’s first visit to your church, but I think it has far-reaching implications for nearly every area. Especially communications.

Think of it like this. When you’re trying to get someone to do something, you’re really trying to get them to live a story. When we talk about a first-time guest, we want the resolution of that story to be that they come back next week. But in communications, the end of the story will look different each time. One story might be that they attend a small group. Another story might be that they invite their friend to the start of a new sermon series.

Every good storyteller knows that the true enjoyment of a story is in the events leading up to the end. That’s where you put all your effort—taking a character from one setting to another. One set of actions to another set of actions. It doesn’t do for Frodo to get the ring of power, then two sentences later destroy the ring. No, it took a series of events and a journey that led to Frodo being able to take the action of destroying the ring of power.

Most of the people in your church are no different. It will take a series of events and action-steps that will lead them to making the decision to do what you want them to.

When you start thinking of your audience’s journey as a series of scenes, you can see the path they’ll take. Not only that, but you can start seeing how you’ll transition your people from one scene to another scene.

The first scene might be awareness.

Many churches only go this far. And unfortunately, awareness doesn’t equal action.

The next scene might be revealing their need and showing how your event/action step can resolve that need.

The scene after that might be reducing the anxiety of doing something new or giving them ideas on how to free up their schedule to make room for the event.

The more complicated the action you want them to take, the more scenes it’ll probably take. So be aware of that as you plan your communications.

With each scene, you’re getting them closer and closer to your desired action—to the end of the story. You become their ally, the Sam to their Frodo. After all, isn’t that really what we want to do? We want to help our church attendees and members integrate into the family of God and of our church, as well as take action steps to help them get the most out of the ministries we offer.

The key to that is to start breaking down their story, scene-by-scene, and helping them transition between those scenes.


This is a guest post by Jonathan Malm.

Read more in his fabulous new book.