Matthew 28 gives Christians a very clear directive:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As Church Leadership you take this directive very seriously by training, sending, and supporting people on mission trips all over the world. How do you celebrate and update “the senders” of the amazing work that God is doing in the mission field? You share the stories of those being affected by the mission work
Storytelling is effective because, when done well, it can be a vessel for transporting emotion from person to person. We, as humans, are captured and driven by emotion. You and I see this everywhere around us. Have you ever caught yourself crying after a commercial? I have. In the span of 1 minute, the marketer was able to tell a story that wrenched the tears right from my face. If you want to see more people signing up for mission trips, try hooking them emotionally through a story.
An effective story can be told in many different ways. Let’s get plugged into leadership and look at three simple ways to tell a story that will effectively capture the hearts of those hearing it.
There are three parts to every good story. The first part is the premise. The premise is the setup of the story. The who, what, where and when. The next part is the problem. This is the drama or conflict. And finally there is the payoff. This is the resolution point, or the ah ha moment. These three setups make up every great story, and believe it or not they can be communicated in 1 minute or less. We don’t need every detail of the story for it to be effective. Think, ‘Less is more.’
- Live and in person
As a current missionary on the college campus, I can tell you that I prefer to tell my story in person. Being invited to speak at a church and communicate the three parts of my story, live, can have a huge impact on everyone in the room. In person you are an able to interact with and react with the audience. Acting as a guide and focusing on drawing them into the story.
But not everyone is comfortable getting up in front of a group of people and talking. How can you help? Coach them! If Jim just got back from an amazing mission trip, and you would like him to tell his story, have him start by writing it out. Give him the three sections you are looking for, and a word count for each. I have found that an effective story can be communicated in 500 words or less (Premise 100-200 words, the Problem 200-300 words, and the Payoff 50-100 words is a good formula). Ask Jim to email you the draft. Read it over. Does it capture your emotions? Remember it is not an information dump; it is an emotion grabber. If it doesn’t affect you, chances are it won’t affect others. Give constructive feedback to him, and then invite him to practice in the space it will be delivered. This will help ease the shock when it’s go time.
The last church I worked at had an amazing partnership with a church in Haiti. A few times a year people from our church would go to Haiti and serve the church and the community around the church. Every time an upcoming trip was announced, more and more people were interested in going. One of the major reasons more people wanted to go was because they could see and hear the stories of what God was doing in Haiti, even though they were 1000 miles away. We did this through video, and you can do it too.
If you have the equipment and team to pull this off, this might be your best bet. You can use a simple smartphone and a $20 clip-on microphone from Amazon to capture the story. I suggest going through the same setup process of writing the story out, and practicing it in advance. The major difference with video is that you can have a few do-overs if it is not perfect the first time. If you don’t have someone to edit the video on your team, you can use someone on the Fiverr site to get you started until you grow your video team.
- Through Pictures and Text
Technology is moving so fast these days! That is great for the “DIY” ministry folks. All of the elements of the story will be the same, but replace words with pictures. My suggestion is to use a template from a site like MotionvFX. It will cost about $50 to buy a Mac-based program called Motion, a little bit of time on YouTube to learn how to add the pictures in, and a few minutes to get the final product. What you will get is a professional looking video, filled with dynamic pictures (or short videos), telling a heart-filled story in under 30 minutes of production. Heck, this is something a high school student would be perfect at. This type of story could even be done while the team is still in the field. For inspiration, check out this template – it is one of my favorites – and this tutorial really helped me get started.
Stories are a really powerful tool, and can be told in many different ways. These ways include live and in person, and through various forms of media. How are you going to tell the story of what God is doing in your church and in the mission field? It is important to put some thought into how you approach this challenge, as a well-communicated story can change the world.