How we tell God’s Story makes an eternal difference

In the beginningOne of the things I love about working at Epipheo Studios is how much I’m learning about storytelling.

While at a first glance we may look like an animation studio that makes cool videos, at heart we are actually a storytelling company. Every day we help our clients tell their stories in engaging ways.

As I work with our world-class storytellers to tell the stories I’m overseeing for our upcoming YouTube web series, I’m continually having more and more epiphanies about how powerful story really is. And, perhaps more importantly, I’m learning how telling God’s story well has eternal implications.

It used to be that I was paid to tell God’s story to my youth group, but now I see how I struggled to really tell His story, the most life-changing story that exists. It’s humbling how my poor storytelling perspective of God’s narrative impacted the way I taught God’s Word and the eternal implications that may have had. (I’m so thankful for a God who always works in spite of us, never because of us!)

There’s a lot about storytelling I plan to discuss here on LISM in the near future because I’m learning how essential storytelling really is for ministry, but this business article on, “Why Storytelling is the Ultimate Weapon,” is a great place to start. Definitely read it from a ministry perspective.

Here are a couple take-aways that stand out to me from that article in regards to how we tell God’s story.

…humans simply aren’t moved to action by “data dumps,” dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

[Research] repeatedly shows that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.

The psychologists Melanie Green and Tim Brock argue that entering fictional worlds “radically alters the way information is processed.” Green and Brock’s studies shows that the more absorbed readers are in a story, the more the story changes them.

When we read dry, factual arguments, we read with our dukes up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally and this seems to leave us defenseless.

The audience accepts the story because, for a human, a good story always seems like a gift. But the story is actually just a delivery system for the teller’s agenda. A story is a trick for sneaking a message into the fortified citadel of the human mind.

Perhaps there’s a reason why the majority of scripture is narrative. And maybe it’s not by coincidence that Jesus taught with so many stories. Maybe we should, too.

QUESTION: What would happen if your teaching time at youth group turned into a story time instead?

Posted on August 8, 2012

New eBookGo
Focused Youth Ministry ebook

85% off!

Focused Youth Ministry

This practical "how to" ebook will walk you through a 30-step process to discovering God's vision for your unique ministry context. The process also shows you how to implement that vision and put metrics in place to evaluate what is moving the vision forward and what isn't.

Price: $12.95 Limited time: $1.99