3 Steps to Telling Better Stories at Your Church


Editors Note: The North Georgia Conference invited writer and former local church communications director Robert Carnes to share some advice on storytelling.

By Robert Carnes

Stories are everywhere. People have been telling stories since the beginning, but we got the idea from the one who created us.

The church has an opportunity to tell the greatest story ever told—the story of Christ. We can leverage the power of narrative to connect with people. Church leaders just need to keep these three storytelling principles in mind.  

1. Establish Characters

Every great story needs a strong character. Characters give your story a focal point. They’re someone for your audience to relate to. Empathy is a key connecting point to any story.
Pick a person or two for each story to follow. Take a second to introduce the character or characters. Who are they? More importantly, how can your audience find common ground with them? Once you’ve introduced the characters, it’s time to tell us about their conflict.

2. Find The Tension

Don’t be afraid to tell stories that include tense situations. It’s easier to ignore these issues, but compelling stories include conflict. Conflict is storytelling fuel—it moves a story forward. Plain and simple, there is no story without conflict.
By intentionally making the decision to tell some stories of struggle and loss, your church can do more to highlight the uplifting power of the gospel. When your audience fully understands the urgency of the tension, they’ll be able to better appreciate the story’s resolution.

3. Give A Resolution

You can’t introduce a conflict without providing some sort of resolution. We can all relate to a family that’s struggling. We can all see ourselves in an individual who is grieving. We can sympathize with a community suffering after a natural disaster. Share those stories and how struggle and grief impact our lives.
Then show how the love and care of your congregation, as a reflection of Christ's love, helped to bring hope or joy in the midst of hardship. The story of your church is most powerful in how it meets the needs of real people.
Whatever it is, the resolution should always point people back to Christ. Because He’s ultimately what this season is all about. The church has the best story of all to tell.

Robert Carnes cares deeply about storytelling and helping churches tell their stories better. That’s why he wrote a book called The Original Storyteller, a 30-day storytelling guide for church leaders. Each day features a storytelling principle, an example of a story using that principle, ties that story back to scripture and then give the reader an action step on how to put what they learned to use.

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