Tell your Story with These 7 Simple Steps
And…he’s off to start his adventure – to return with stories. That would be my son, Luke, whom we sent off on Monday to study (with the emphasis on study) in Athens, Greece. The scene at the airport reminded me of what it was like dropping him off on his first day of kindergarten. He: so excited about experiencing a whole new world that was opening up to him. Me: bravely waving goodbye while secretly hiding a box of Kleenex in my back pocket.
Since we can’t be eating gyros or baklava with him, it’s the stories Luke will tell that will paint a picture for us – tales that will let us in on what he experienced and what we missed. To make sure that Luke really does a good job with this, perhaps I should buy him Storytelling as Best Practice by Andy Goodman – a compilation of articles Goodman put together from his excellent monthly communications e-newsletter, “Free-Range Thinking.”
One of the articles in the book that caught my eye listed tips on storytelling by screenwriter, Brian McDonald. McDonald shared them in his book, Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate. Though these steps are not original to him (he gives improv actors Matt Smith and Joe Guppy credit) they are important to storytelling. I’ve added the examples:
1. Once upon a time...
...there was a six-year-old boy who lived in a small town.
2. And every day...
...he'd walk by the church down the street and wonder what was going on inside it.
3. Until one day...
...his parents, who were indifferent to church, dropped him off for an hour at Sunday School.
4. And because of this...
...eight years later his Sunday School teachers asked him to be a Sunday School teacher.
5. And because of this...
...he started thinking that maybe God had a call on his life.
6. Until finally...
...he answered the call and went to seminary.
7. And ever since that day...
...the Reverend has been blessed to serve God's people inside and outside the church.
These are seven lines that you can use to tell a story in your sermon or as you highlight a ministry just before the offering is taken. And, because it is often terrifying for people unaccustomed to speaking in public, this is also an outline you can give to individuals who are telling their story in worship. The words do not have to be used verbatim, but they do provide a structure to get the facts out, provide some dramatic tension, and finally, provide a resolution.
Once upon a time, a little boy went to Greece and his mother bought stock in Kleenex…I'm convinced that Luke’s story is going to be an excellent one. Make sure you set your story up to be great too.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. She is thankful for Skype, WhatsApp, texting, and that GPS chip she put in Luke's brain. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.