Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

Storytelling is about storymaking

with 7 comments

Everyone has a story.

But not everyone knows how to tell a story.

I want to do everything in my power to encourage a greater use of personal stories in my ministry here at NewSpring. But a key to success is recognizing that stories don’t just happen. They are made.

That’s media 101.

I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of “spontaneous” stories that we share about what God has done or is doing in our lives.

I’m not saying that stories are only stories if they follow specific narrative forms, like a personal testimony.

And I’m not saying that stories can’t be generated by ordinary people using ordinary tools everyone has at their disposal.

I am saying I think that we’re being naive if we think that our responsibility ends the moment that we ask people to share their story with us.

There are ways staff or trained volunteers can employ traditional media techniques to help people:

See their story. This is about recognizing when a private experience of God or a spiritual learning can carry a message of the gospel and/or help teach others about how to respond faithfully to his call on believers.

Express their story. This is about being a “midwife” to the story, making someone comfortable sharing their story, and helping them choose the best tools to capture the story in multimedia.

Shape their story. This is about framing the story by putting it in a context where it will offer the maximum impact and the maximum exposure. That could be focusing the message to speak to a particular topic or audience. That could be choosing the media for the story, the length of the story, or whether the story should be able to stand alone or whether it depends on its place within a wider web of information.

God commands everyone to tell of his good works. This isn’t optional.

In fact, the true richness of our faith and the true greatness of our God can only be captured by releasing the stories in the lives of every faithful follower.

And churches have a critical role to play in harnessing and focusing that storytelling — even, or perhaps especially, now that everyone has the tools to be a media creator.


Written by NickCharalambous

April 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Posted in social media

Tagged with ,

7 Responses

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  1. really on target, how many times has a church invited some untrained person to the mic. People should be carefully coached. We should take the lead to help people express their story in an engaging way.

    Further, what would it do for most churches if they had a sermon preview on weds (or so) before 10 or so people who care. a little critique could make a huge difference for sunday’s experience.

    Let’s be the best we can

    Mike Walker

    April 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  2. […] loves a good story and loves to talk about what God’s doing, so Nick Charalambous’s article about story-making was a must read that I just wanted to pass on. I hope to see more about this, a little more in […]

  3. This is a great article. I want to read more about this!

    I think this site captures part of what you have relayed here, it’s worth a look.

    Micah Taylor

    May 19, 2009 at 12:43 am

    • Thanks for pointing me to that site. It seems there are many churches and ministries trying this approach, and I can’t wait until NewSpring launches our effort to be more systematic in capturing the stories of our 11,000 + member congregation.


      May 19, 2009 at 9:16 am

  4. haha, running a site like that for those numbers means you have your job cut out for you…

    Micah Taylor

    May 19, 2009 at 8:01 pm

  5. for some people, sharing their story is hard to do with words. like me, for example. i am not as comfortable getting up in front of tens or hundreds of people and talking about my story. on the contrary, i am a lot more comfortable using other methods, from writing to painting.
    i would encourage everyone to try not to think of sharing your story with only words on a stage, but through other outlets that arn’t always easily accessable. when thinking about NewSprings effort (and other churches around the globe) in capturing these stories, please give thought to those who words do not come as easily, but think of having a gallery space for art or other avenues for sharing.
    Just a thought…
    God Bless and PEACE


    May 21, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    • A great point, and one I had definitely considered. You can tell stories very effectively in a few well chosen photos for instance. Thanks for the comment


      May 21, 2009 at 10:46 pm

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