Inspiring Generosity


4 Steps to Build a Better Story

                          It's true!                   Suzy Hazelwood@pexels.com

It’s been a blessedly quiet week. I’ve been binging Hulu’s mini-series on the Theranos debacle, The Dropout.  How can people be so evil? (Don’t answer that.)
I probably should be watching something more uplifting.
And I am! If you aren’t watching Abbott Elementary, you should. It’s one of the best shows out there – especially if you have a soft spot for bedraggled and earnest teachers. I’m also getting ready to say goodbye to my favorite TV family, the Pearsons of This is Us fame. My box of Kleenex continues to be my friend during these last few episodes. And…I just bid adieu to the ever-funny and relevant Dre and Bo and all the kids of Black-ish.
By now, you’re thinking, “That Cesie watches waaaay too much TV.” I raise my hand. Guilty as charged.
Why have these shows had me faithfully viewing? They know how to tell a story.
You are in the storytelling business as well.
Definition, please: a story is a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader. (Thanks, Dictionary.com)
I’ve been reading bits and pieces of Carmine Gallo’s book, The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Talks to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch on and Others Don’t.
Guess what? There’s not just one way to tell a story. And…the story you tell in your sermon will often be the only thing that people in your congregation remember about it.
In the article Wired for Story: Why we remember so well, Braden Dragomir, says,

…humans have become wired to remember information shared through stories. Before the written word, stories communicated verbally were how we passed on critical information that’s vitally important to remember…
We crave story because our minds are always searching for meaning.

 Ladies and gentleman – this sounds like church!
You have at least two distinct opportunities to tell stories during worship:

  • Through your sermon
  • During the offering/stewardship moment.

Gallo outlines one way to build a story (via Peter Gruber). This seems particularly apropos for the stewardship moment:
1. What is your presentation topic? (Your gifts make a difference.)
2. What’s the challenge you present?  (The life-changing story of someone in your congregation.)
3. What is the struggle surrounding that challenge? (Change didn’t come out of thin air. It took the love and care of a staff member or a collection of people to make it happen. A person’s life was changed for the better because of the impact of the church.)
4. What is the resolution and call to action? (One more time: Your gifts make a life-changing difference in the lives of individuals you may never know. It’s time for the offering.)
You’ve heard the great stories of the Bible. What are the touching, dramatic, funny stories you can tell to spur a deeper faith and more generosity in your congregation?
Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have to catch up on Bridgerton.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She still loves reality shows. Her HGTV fave? House Hunters International.  You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
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.