Focus Your Stories on One Simple Truth

How can using the power of life stories change your culture?

To help see others see change, the leader must understand how to unlock the imagination. The very act of imagination is connected to faith. The author of Hebrews writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). When a leader articulates, or provokes, a follower’s imagination, he or she is serving both God and the individual by exercising the muscle of faith.

Solution – Focus your stories on one simple truth

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley

Great stories capture and hold an audience’s attention from start to finish. Why should it be any different when you stand up to speak?

In Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley and Lane Jones offer a unique strategy for communicators seeking to deliver captivating and practical messages. In this highly creative presentation, the authors unpack seven concepts that will empower you to engage and impact your audience in a way that leaves them wanting more.

Whether you speak from the pulpit, podium, or the front of a classroom, you don’t need much more than blank stares and faraway looks to tell you you’re not connecting. Take heart before your audience takes leave! You can convey your message in the powerful, life-changing way it deserves to be told. An insightful, entertaining parable that’s an excellent guide for any speaker, Communicating for a Change takes a simple approach to delivering effectively.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

It’s a good idea to keep your vision stories simple. The primary reason for this is that the human capacity to absorb multiple elements isn’t unlimited. When you are communicating a story, keep in mind the limitation of your listeners’ working memory. For the story to be useful, it must be neither too detailed nor too general. The simpler your story is, the more likely that people will comprehend and remember it.

Every time I stand to communicate I want to take one simple truth and lodge it in the heart of the listener. I want them to know that one thing and know what to do with it.

Determine Your Goal – What are you after when you speak or teach? What is the win? Smarter people? Changed people? People with more confidence in God? Your approach to communicating needs to match your goal.

Pick a Point – Point refers to one of three things: an application, an insight, or a principle. With this approach, the point serves as the glue to hold the other parts together.

Create a Map – Follow a five-word outline, each representing a section of the message.

  • ME (Orientation) – a dilemma the communicator has faced or is currently facing.
  • WE (Identification) – common ground with your audience.
  • GOD (Illumination) – transition to the text to discover what God says.
  • YOU (Application) – challenge your audience to act on what they have just heard.
  • WE (Inspiration) – close with several statements about what could happen if everybody embraced that particular truth.

Internalize the Message – you should be able to sit down at a table and communicate your message to an audience of two in a way that is both conversational and authentic.

Engage Your Audience – presentation trumps information when it comes to engaging the audience.

Find Your Voice – to develop an effective style you need to constantly ask yourself two questions:

  • What works?
  • What works for me?

Start All Over – when you get stuck, use these five questions to discover the one thing that the people God has entrusted to our care need to know.

  • What do they need to know? INFORMATION
  • Why do they need to know it? MOTIVATION
  • What do they need to do? APPLICATION
  • Why do they need to do it? INSPIRATION
  • How can I help them remember? REITERATION

Andy Stanley, Communicating for a Change

A NEXT STEP

Think of a recent situation where you were stuck in the preparation of a presentation, sermon, or teaching element. Take this situation to your next leadership team meeting for a collaborative session.

On a chart tablet, list Andy Stanley’s five questions from the “Start All Over” section above. For each of the five questions, solicit answers from your team in a true brainstorming session (no judgments allowed).

After completing each of the five questions, go back through the lists and circle the three most valuable phrases and comments for each question.

As a group, decide on which single word or phrase is your team’s best choice, and underline it.

To complete the exercise and make it useful for both individuals and groups in the future, spend 30 minutes talking through the process of the individual and team choices. Note any applications for future use when you are stuck in your preparation, and apply those applications to help you move forward.


As leaders, we communicate in all we say and do. We may be entertaining at times, we inform much of the time, and occasionally we must be directing in what we say. But in all situations, we can inspire and connect with our audience.


Taken from SUMS Remix 29-2, published December 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Effectively Tell Your Church’s Story

Below is a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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With so many messages competing for people’s attention, how can we most effectively tell our church’s story?

Every day, your church stewards thousands of moments of truth. Every time a member talks to a neighbor, someone drives by the church facility, a ministry email goes out, a pastor’s business card is left on a desk, some interaction on behalf of the church has transpired. Every time these events happen, the church’s vision grows brighter or dims in the tiniest little increments.

The leader’s role is to crank up the wattage.

Solution – Tell your story in every environment with compelling consistency

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Unique, by Phil Cooke

Today’s culture is more connected than any time in history, but all of this connectivity comes with a price. We live in a world that’s become cluttered, distracted, and disrupted by social media, with the average person receiving as many as 5,000 messages a day in one form or another. If you’re a pastor, nonprofit leader, artist, filmmaker, entrepreneur, or creative professional in this hyper-connected, highly distracted world, how do you get your unique idea, project, or vision on the radar of the people who need to respond?

In Unique, Phil Cooke, a highly respected media producer and consultant, addresses both the challenges and the opportunities of branding and social media in the 21st century. If you have a vision or message to share with the world, Unique provides a blueprint to cut through the clutter, communicate your story, and impact your audience.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

To maximize your ability to connect, you must invest time, mental energy, and resources to really discover and articulate your uniqueness — your vision, your essence, your story.

Stories inspire and capture imagination. Stories connect on personal and emotional levels. They help us develop relational connections.

That’s why it is so important for your communication toolbox to say who you uniquely are— what differentiates your church from the crowd.

The combination of the right words with powerful imagery compels engagement, insight, and memorability.

Most churches haven’t developed their story and leveraged great design to share it. Don’t miss the opportunity to tell your church’s story with design so you can really extend your reach. Shouldn’t the church connect and build relationships in every way possible?

At its core, branding is simply the art of surrounding a product, organization, or person with a powerful and compelling story. At its most basic level, branding provides answers to the simple human need to differentiate one thing from another.

The goal of branding is to win the hearts and minds of the largest audience possible and imprint an indelible story around your vision.

The power of these stories and the hold they exert over our lives is remarkable, and many would say the power of story is embedded in our genetic makeup. From the ancient days of the Israelite storytellers who recited the epic chronicles of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the writers, preachers, and filmmakers of today, we are a story-driven people, and we use stories to make sense of life.

Stories work because we want to experience the emotions, feelings, and passions of others who have encountered the challenges we face each day.

During Jesus’ short time of ministry on earth, He had to teach a message that wouldn’t simply change people during His lifetime, but transform the world for ages to come. If you had faced that challenge, what would you have done?

Jesus did what many pastors in that position would probably consider a career killer: He started telling stories. Most of Jesus’ stories were just everyday people doing everyday things. They weren’t particularly exciting, romantic, or even thrilling.

Stories drill deeply into your brain and explode later with meaning. Sometimes the meaning comes when you least expect it. Stories impact audiences because each person interprets the story in light of his or her own personal situation and experience. As a result, the impact is far greater than a simple object lesson or teaching session.

In many cases, you can interchangeably use the words “brand,” “story,” “identity,” and, sometimes, “reputation.” Branding is about building trust and loyalty and extending your relationships far beyond a single transaction.

Stories are the central focus of the art of branding.

Phil Cooke, Unique

A NEXT STEP

 How well does your brand tell your story?

Here’s a question for you: What’s the Nike brand all about? If you said “Just Do It” you would be incorrect – that’s their tagline. Their brand is really their mission – “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” (By the way, the * is further explained by Nike as “If you have a body you are an athlete.”)

To help understand how your brand tells your story, watch this 5 ½ minute video from Nike with your leadership team.

After watching the video, discuss these questions with your team:

  • How much more important, and eternal, is the mandate of the church than a shoe company?
  • How well defined and well lived, and resultantly effective, is our church at telling our story?
  • Does our story create movement and reflect the heart of God for the church or is it just words on a website or worship service bulletin?

Many pastors tend to be skeptical of investing time and resources into working on statements of identity like mission or values or tag lines, especially when things around church “feel” like they are going well enough.

 When any organization lives their mission, the results are seen – and life change becomes possible. The marketing video from Nike sums up why, for them, people living out their mission is more important than people knowing their tagline. And shows how good they actually are at living it, better than most churches.

What are three stories of life change that capture the essence of your church’s brand? How does your church’s mission statement move beyond generic statements to reflect these examples of your unique calling?

With the Gospel at the center of everything we do, the church, by its nature, is a message-centric organization. Jesus, the greatest story-teller of all time knew, before science showed us, that people are simply hard-wired to respond to story and images. And today’s world is becoming ever-increasingly visual, with selfies, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Consider this: there are hundreds of little moments of truth – touchpoints of connectivity – that happen each day.

Each of these are opportunities to share the message of the gospel. Are you going to make them or miss them?

 

To learn more about telling your story, start a conversation with the Auxano team today.

Taken from SUMS Remix 26-2, published October 2015


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Ways to Share Your Compelling Story

Have you ever gotten lost in a great story? Maybe it was a book you couldn’t put down, a movie that made you feel like you could take on the world, or a story told around a campfire. Stories have the power to make us laugh, comfort us in challenging circumstances, bring us to action, and help us see the world with new eyes.

Whether you know it or not, you are part of a story.

We are all writing some sort of story with our lives. If you are a church leader, you have the privilege of leading a piece of the story that Jesus is building through the Church. Your church’s story can have the power to inspire people who will dream with you, rally behind you, face the challenges of life with you, and fund your mission. It also has the power to influence the people around you to let their lives be a part of that story.

If you are not utilizing the story God has given you, you could be missing out on a vital tool God has given you to engage and connect the people around you. People connect with compelling stories.

A compelling story:

1. LEAVES AN IMPRESSION

Your story should be long enough to take the listener on a journey, but short enough to be memorable. When thinking through your story, you should consider a main theme that becomes clear through the details.

2. EVOKES EMOTION

This is a prime way to have people connect with your vision and let your story be another way to communicate your vision. Here’s a great example of a story from Musicbed that evokes emotion. Take a couple minutes to write down how you feel after you watch this one.

3. SHARES THE WINS AND LOSSES

What fruit has your church seen over the past years? What can you celebrate? When has God shown His faithfulness through difficult seasons and how did He bring you through them? For those who have been a part of your church for a while, this will serve as a chance to become reacquainted with where you have been together. For those who may be newer, it will help them feel part of the ministry without experiencing it firsthand.

4. IS FOR THE AUDIENCE

Think about who this story will impact and what details will be the most important in helping them take hold of your purpose. When writing a story, it can be too easy to tell the story that we want to tell, rather than the one that is most effective. Before sharing your story with your congregation, have someone you trust read it through and tell you what it specifically communicates to them.

5. ANTICIPATES THE FUTURE

The story of how God brought you from your beginning to where you are today is so important, but something is lost if you do not anticipate all that God has in store for your future. Here are some verses to think about in anticipating God’s plans for His children and the Church:

Jeremiah 29:11
Ephesians 3:20-21
Matthew 16:16-18
Philippians 1:6

TEST DRIVE

If you haven’t written your story, now is the time! Bring out those old journals, spend some time with the people who have been with you from the beginning and have supported you along the way, and go back to the beginning.

  • Where was the first place you ever met?
  • What was the dream God placed in your heart when you were called into ministry?
  • How much have you grown from your first day?
  • How has God used you in the community?
  • Who are some specific people in your community who have been affected by your church?

If you have written your story in the past, maybe it’s time to update it.

Unless you are intentional about telling your story, it will be forgotten one day. Schedule a time to share your story with your people. This could be done through a Sunday message, a video produced by your creative team, through social media, or through a letter. The purpose of having a story is to tell it!

> Read more from Chris.


 Would you like to know how to tell a compelling story? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Rivers

Chris Rivers

Over the last eight years, Chris has worked with ministry leaders to provide solutions to the challenge of vision transfer in the areas of finance, process, and leadership development. In 2008, he partnered with a startup called SecureGive. SecureGive was the nation's first giving kiosk designed to help churches empower their people who wanted to give but did not carry cash or a checkbook. Chris then joined a new division of Shelby Systems called ArenaChMS, where he collaborated with church staff of various ministry departments to create customized solutions for their ministry needs. In 2010, Chris joined the staff at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., to help them rethink church technology. During his time at NewSpring Church, Chris created a staff development program that would transition new staff into ministry with clarity. Within 18 months of launching staff development, NewSpring hired 147 additional staff members, which nearly doubled the staff’s size. Increasingly pastors were asking him for ideas about better strategizing their visions, which led Chris to create CultureBus, an online training resource that gives ministry leaders practical ways to transfer vision to their teams. Chris lives in Anderson, S.C, with his wife, Rachel, and their three children, Riley, Finn, and Blythe. You can follow Chris on his blog at culturebus.cc.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Utilize the Power of Story on Your Church’s Campus Facility

Over the past several years we have become acutely aware of the essence of “story.” We hear this term used in the church world and in business settings.   It has been used to prompt people to open up about their lives and life experiences… to tell their story. On a corporate level it is the interwoven thread used to identify the mission, vision, direction, and passion of organizations.

The reality is, we all have a story.   Some of these stories are sensational while others may seem mundane or routine. Others grip our emotions and pull on our heartstrings while transforming us into the story.   What has struck me lately is that everyone has a story to tell and that people are reading— taking in— those stories even when we are not aware.

We do not have to write a screenplay or book to tell our story. When we walk into a room full of people, you will start to read certain aspects of people’s stories, and they will start to read yours as well. They might not see the entire story, but they will see some pretty obvious chapters in that story.   The way you enter the room will tell the chapter of your story related to your self-confidence or possibly your physical attributes or limitations. The way you shake the hands of the other guests will convey yet another part of the story, as will the clothes you are wearing… and you may not have even said a word. In addition, the room itself tells a story.

Did you know that your church campus tells a story? Why Church Buildings Matter: The Story of Your Space offers a unique perspective on the importance of church buildings. These buildings are vastly more important than most understand. The church campus and the story of the people in the church go hand-in-hand and are interwoven into each other. We cannot neglect the power of story and how our church facilities communicate a story.

Church facilities and all of the things associated with “story” and “setting” will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to these things can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need   to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. That would be a huge mistake.   “Story” is all around us, in virtually every aspect of our daily experiences, which means that our church and ministry facilities also tell a story. Here are a few important questions to ask about  your church facilities:

  • What story are your facilities or campus telling?
  • Are we intentional about the telling our story through our facilities?
  • Is the story congruent with who we are, who we think we are, what we believe and value, and who we want to reach for Christ?

Why Church Buildings Matter explores each of these areas in more detail. I believe as we become more acutely aware of the impact of our ministries’ unique stories, and how they impact our guests and the people God has called us to reach in our community, the greater the impact we will have on fulfilling our calling.

Get Tim’s book here.

Why Church Buildings Matter

Read more from Tim here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Cool

Tim Cool

Tim Cool is the Founder and Chief Solutions Officer of Cool Solutions Group, a company leading organizations to be intentional with the planning, development and life cycle management of the facilities God has entrusted them. Tim has assisted nearly 400 churches over the past 28 years, throughout the United States, with their facility’s needs. Tim has been married to his best friend, Lisa, for 29 years and resides in Charlotte, NC with their 17-year-old triplets. They are active members at Elevation Church.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Kinds of Stories Every Church Leader Should Master

All ministry is communication intensive. It follows that story-telling and understanding the nuances of story will help any leader in the daily ebb and flow of communication. Use these story types to do an inventory on your own “range” of utilizing of stories as a leader.

CREATION STORY

I am not referring to the first book of Scripture but to the genesis of the organization itself. If you are a pastor, you should know more about the creation story of your church than anyone on the planet. What are the circumstances—passions, problems, and people—surrounding how the church got started to begin with? Mastering the richness of the creation story will help in two major ways. First, it will hold insight into the unique culture of the church and therefore future decision-making and vision. Second, your mastery of the story itself will bring tremendous credibility with people when initiating change.

>>ACTION STEP: Write a one-page, 2-minute creation story talk. If you have any gaps in your knowledge interview people in your church until you know more than anyone else.

SIGNATURE STORY

A signature story relates to any milestones or hand-of-God moments after the creation story. Obviously a church with more history will have more signature stories. These accounts show off strengths of the church and God’s hand in it’s history. I look for signature stories when discerning a church’s Kingdom Concept (What can your church do better than 10,000 others). These stories reveal the values and mark the high-water line of God’s activity and unique journey for each church. Use the signature stories the same way as the creation story: celebrating God’s goodness, explaining decision-making and guiding change.

>>ACTION STEP: Make a list of 3-5 possible signatures stories in your church. Ask key leaders to do the same and make a master list of the top 5.

FOLKLORE

Folklore stories are simply ones that are worth being told and retold. While there may be overlap between the first two of the list, folklore often focuses on the life change journey of individuals. Even though everyone has special stories of God’s transforming work in their lives, folklore shows off, in brilliant detail, the mission or strategy, a value or life mark, from the church’s articulated DNA (Vision Frame). Folklore often embeds a moment of modeling—like repeated prayer, gospel conversation or invitation toward an unchurched friend—that reflects “the win” we are striving for as a congregation.  Imagine a church planter who sees a convert grow with unusual intentionality to become a key leader in the church. This story could model the pattern that we hope to see repeated over and over.

>>ACTION STEP: Identify 3 stories from individuals in your church that you know could never be shared too much. Ask another leader in your church to capture all of the details of the story in a 2-page, 5-minute summary.

HORIZON STORY

Now we turn our attention of story-telling to the future. Think of the horizon story as time-machine window where you tell people what God is going to do. It may have a lead in like, “What if…” or “Imagine…” Tell me a story of what the church will be like in one year. How about three years? When crafting this vision casting story, its important not to be presumptuous. To guard against that make sure you show what we call the “God smile,” that is, remind people that this is God’s idea not yours.

>>ACTION STEP: Prepare a 2-minute story to tell someone what your church will look like in one year. To give yourself freedom, don’t worry about sharing it with anyone— you may or may not. But practice thinking about the future feel of a story.

THE GOSPEL

The centerpiece of all story-telling is the Gospel. It is important to define every other story in relationship to the grand news of God’s intervention in our world and our lives through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. You may wonder, “This is a given, so why would you mention this as an organizational story.” First, I am surprised by how many congregations are stuck in a  shallow appreciation for the Gospel’s ongoing presence and power in daily life.  Second, as you master story as a leader, you won’t want to develop and practice the other story types to the neglect of the Gospel. Rather let the Gospel develop you as you integrate it into all story-telling.

>>ACTION STEP: Grab a copy of Center Church by Tim Keller and study the section on “Atonement Grammars.” This is one of the most helpful summaries I have ever seen.

TEACHABLE POINT OF VIEW

The last two kinds of stories have to do more with the personal life of the leader. A teachable point of view, a term coined by Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine, is the story that surrounds a personal leadership learning. Informal leadership development happens best when an experienced leader, in relationship with other leaders can unpacks stories of why the do what they do. Where did this conviction come from? What led me to develop this skill? Why did I make what seemed to be a counter-intuitive decision? The more that you have thought about your leadership’s teachable point of views, the more often and intentional will be the transference of wisdom in your leadership culture.

>>ACTION STEP: Take 20 minutes and write down your top 10 learnings as a leader. Write down a few bullet points and begin to flesh out the story behind the learning.

CONVERSION STORY

The last story is the perhaps the most obvious, but I did not want it to go unstated. In my own leadership life, I have failed the most at rehearsing, in my leadership, the story of my own journey with God at its very beginning. Maybe that’s because it happened when I was in eighth grade. That seems pretty distant from the “important” leadership work of today. How many people on your leadership team know the details of how you trusted Jesus and how you grew in affection for the Gospel? Using your own conversation story as a leader is important for at least three reasons. First, it will keep you humble. Second, it’s a personal help to keep the Gospel at the center of all stories. Third, it will model for people the importance of sharing a personal testimony.

>>ACTION STEP: Create a one-page, 2-minute conversion story testimony. Practice sharing it with one person a week, asking the other person to share their conversion story.

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Jesus and His Kingdom is the Better Story Our World Needs Today

Evangelism might be the most discussed, most intimidating, and least discussed practice in the American church. As our church just finished our sermon series through the Sermon on the Mount, I’ve been amazed by how Jesus evangelized through his message and his life.

It can be easy to view the Sermon on the Mount as directed simply to believers, but Jesus’s view was beyond the disciples sitting with him; it involved the non-believing, curious, and even the antagonistic crowd around him. He doesn’t supply a complete explanation of any of the topics he addresses. He spends two verses dealing with divorce, makes simple statements about how we should use our money, and provides a small insight on anger and lust being rooted in the heart.

In all of the issues Jesus addresses, he is presenting a better story, a better narrative to follow than the world offers. It truly is picture-perfect evangelism, declaring through “you have heard it said, but I say” statements that contrast the cultural narrative lived around us and the kingdom life he brings. This must guide us as we process how we have been evangelizing, and how we can move forward evangelizing and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

THE GOOD NEWS

We must ask whether we truly believe that the gospel is good news in our lives, and if it is the prevailing narrative that we live for. If it’s not a better story, bringing greater peace, joy, and hope in the midst of whatever circumstances come, then how can we invite people to believe it as better for them?

When we follow Jesus and the life he offers, evangelism flows from a natural expression of the change we are continually experiencing.

For example, when I go see a basketball game with one of my son’s classmates’ dad, and we begin to talk about our kids, I am confronted by whether the gospel has been guiding my parenting. If it has been guiding my parenting, I can acknowledge with him my failures in disciplining without patience and love at every moment, but also explain how the gospel guides me in interacting with my son. I get to explain that I can affirm my love for my son rooted in him being my son, not in his performance.

I can also describe how my desire in correction is that my son would know the delight and joy in obedience rather than the destructive nature of sin as my he trusts Jesus and his parents. This presents a better story than our culture’s typical annoyance by kids’ rambunctiousness, disobedience, and anger in timeouts or discipline, and points to the responsibility of the parent to lovingly correct and teach a better way of life by correction and modeling. It also demonstrates and aims to highlight that this can only be done well through gospel motivation and empowerment by faith.

THE GOSPEL IS THE BETTER STORY

Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount sound impossible to follow at times, but thankfully he fulfilled all of the demands and challenges that he presented for us through his flawless life. His fulfillment is now imparted to us by faith in his death and resurrection through the Holy Spirit to empower us to live the better story so that it becomes a better and ever-increasing reality.

Jesus speaks to so many areas of our life, and provides a better way forward than the one typically based on life experiences, preferences, and at times, heritage. If we never stop and consider how Jesus calls us to live differently from the desires of our heart, to the private and public expression of our faith, we will not be able to share how the gospel transforms our approach to relationships, career, and even the religious devotion we are hoping our friends and family embrace. The call is to faith rather than religion, and only the gospel produces that in us.

THE BETTER STORY DEMONSTRATED

Jesus proclaimed the Sermon on the Mount, dropped the microphone, walked off, and lived it out. When we invite our neighbors to see the better story played out in the community of faith through parties, meals, and service to the neighborhood, our words have more power based upon the life that is formed through them.

This is where evangelism becomes easier and normal. You are already doing and being a part of environments in your faith community where evangelism can happen, but you’ve forgot to provide the invitation to those who don’t know the better story yet. Jesus invited the crowds to follow him as he lived what he taught, and in doing so, informs us that we get to evangelize by presenting a better story through everyday life.

My hope is that the church embraces Jesus’s words as the greatest story ever lived. I pray that we enjoy it, and through loving it, we live it out as a powerful proclamation to our friends, co-workers, and family.

EXAMPLES OF TELLING THE BETTER STORY

I thought I would provide a few real life questions and scenarios to help.

  1. I met a pro-choice advocate asking if I supported women’s rights for abortion. They asked, “Are you against abortion?” Obviously, this is a potentially heated debate with a lot of emotions. I chose to answer like this: ”I believe there can be a better way. What if there was a community that would adopt, care for, and raise that child and the mother/father could be a part of their lives? This is God’s desire for the people of God, to assist families and care for any and every vulnerable child.”
  2. After finding out I’m a pastor, I’ve been told multiple times, “So you believe I’m going to Hell.” Always a great conversation starter. One way to present the better story would be to say, “I believe you don’t have to go there. Christ took all the punishment that you or I deserve by dying on the cross. He provides a way for us to know him in relationship, to know true joy, and to experience Heaven now and to love him forever.”
  3. An even more common occurrence that I’ve seen in my life and our community is that social events are for everyone, not just Christians. Show the joy of Christian community by inviting them to the party and demonstrating the same relationships, conversations, and care for others that you do in fellowship with Christians.

Jesus and his kingdom is the better story and better reality for our day. It’s yours by faith and offered to anyone who will receive it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Gentry

Logan Gentry

Logan Gentry is the Pastor of Community and Equipping at Apostles Church in New York City. He blogs at Gentrified and has contributed to The Gospel Coalition. He is married to Amber and they have three children. Follow him on Twitter: @logangentry.

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Clarity Process

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Good Organizations are Storytellers. Great Organizations are Storydoers.

Discussions about story and storytelling are pretty fashionable today. On the one hand, as a lifelong advocate for the power of story, I find this very encouraging. For all organizations, having a story and knowing that story are crucial steps to achieving success. On the other hand, I’m worried that too many organizations think that telling their story through advertising is enough. It’s not.

In fact, those that think this way do so at their own risk because there is a new kind of organization on the rise that uses story in a more powerful way — and they are run more efficiently and profitably as a result.

In my new book, True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business, I call these new organizations storydoing organizations because they advance their narrative through action, not communication. Storydoing organizations — Red Bull and TOMS shoes, for example — emphasize the creation of compelling and useful experiences — new products, new services, and new tools that advance their narrative by lighting up the medium of people. What I mean by this is that when people encounter a storydoing organization they often want to tell all their friends about it. Storydoing organizations create fierce loyalty and evangelism in their customers. Their stories are told primarily via word of mouth, and are amplified by social media tools.

So how do you know a storydoing organization when you see one? These are the primary characteristics:

  1. They have a story
  2. The story is about a larger ambition to make the world or people’s lives better
  3. The story is understood and cared about by senior leadership outside of marketing
  4. That story is being used to drive tangible action throughout the company: product development, HR policies, compensation, etc.
  5. These actions add back up to a cohesive whole
  6. Customers and partners are motivated to engage with the story and are actively using it to advance their own stories

Storydoing organizations have a feeling of authenticity and humanity about them that is lost in many traditional organizations today. It makes them magnetic.

Storydoing organizations are on to something very compelling. Storydoing can be learned. And once learned, it can be replicated and spread from one part of your organization to another.

Are you a storydoing organization? Here’s a tool that will help you discover that answer.

Read the original article by Ty Montague here.

Read more about storydoing here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ty Montague

Ty Montague

Ty Montague is the author of True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business and a founder of co:collective, a consultancy that helps clients develop their strategy and brand story using the principles of storydoing.

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Using the Physical Attributes of Your Campus to Intentionally Communicate Your Story

“I ask all of our first time guests why they decided to come to our church and 90% of them said they were driving by and were intrigued by our site and our new building, and that is all thanks to the creativity of Visioneering Studios.”

David Garison, Lead Pastor,  Northside Christian Church, Spring, Texas

Northside Christian

If you were driving down a road in your town and saw the above building, would you be intrigued?  Would you want to check it out? As you look at that picture, who do you think this building meant to attract?  Who was the primary target to get sucked in by the design and amenities?

If you said MEN…then you would be correct. But not just any man, a mid “thirty something” man.  And why would a church focus on that age group and gender?  It is actually pretty simple for the leadership at Northside Christian.

They believe that if they can attract men in their mid thirties, they will likely bring their wife and 3 +/- children as well. In most cases, it is easier to engage the entire family if the husband/father is leading the charge and is compelled to attend. For most men, there is too much talk about love (especially loving another man….YUK), surrender, “feeling” and a whole host of other words and songs that are just not appealing.

So what did this church decided to do?  They were intentional about communicating a story and message to the target they wanted to attract.  They made the conscious decision to put “bait on the hook” as they fulfilled their calling to be fishers of men.  The attractional elements of the physical campus was intended to be appealing to those they were trying to reach just like the worm, minnow or lure are on a fishing hook.  If you going fishing for bass, you would not leave the bait at home.  Yes, it is possible to catch a fish on a bare hook…but it less likely and it is much harder and far less rewarding.  So why do we think it is wrong to put “bait” on the hook when we are fishing for souls? Given some recent responses to my other posts on “story”, I am sure some of  you are saying “But the Holy Spirit is the only thing we need…he will draw them in…why should we try to manipulate.” While I am in complete agreement that the Holy Spirit will move in a persons heart to take action, God  also gave us eyes…ears…noses…and other sensory attributes that he uses to influence us.

For this church, they decided to use several types of bait…here are a few examples:

1. The overall design is that of a lodge or “man cave”.  It is very masculine and appealing to a man. It makes me want to go hang out, how about you?

Norhtside 1

2. The materials are “manly”.  From the stone to the exposed wood grains to the exposed metal to the car license plates used to clad a section of the facility (above pic), the materials scream MAN!  Women are generally drawn in by color…but men are attracted to materials.

3. They took the “bait on the hook” concept and developed a fishing hole in front of the building that is open to the public…that they actually stock with fish.  Again, the idea is that a mid-30 year old man with 3 kids would bring the kids to the fishing hole (i.e. a WELL…see this post for more on that concept) even if they have never gone to the “church”…or what we might refer to as the Temple experience.

Northside 2

4. Amenities…besides the fishing hole, this church has been deliberate in the location of their exterior public spaces.  Even if you are not interested in fishing, but looking for a place to site outside by a gentle waterfall to read or you have those 3 young kids and need to get them out from under mom’s feet and blow out some pent up energy, this campus shouts…COME HERE.  The playground is open to the public and the outside sitting areas and tables are inviting to anybody just looking for a place to hang and do life with others. In addition, they were judiciously placed on the front side of the campus so they are visible to people passing by…more bait!

Visioneering has just finished Phase II for this church and the new kids space continues this theme and attractional relationship with their community. You can see why “Your Kids Won’t Want to Leave”, on the blog by Jody Forehand….which is another form of “bait”.

Are you ready to go fishing for your community?   Is your church more interested in “cleaning” fish or catching them?  If it is the later, make sure you have the right bait.

Read more from Tim here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Cool

Tim Cool

Tim Cool is the Founder and Chief Solutions Officer of Cool Solutions Group, a company leading organizations to be intentional with the planning, development and life cycle management of the facilities God has entrusted them. Tim has assisted nearly 400 churches over the past 28 years, throughout the United States, with their facility’s needs. Tim has been married to his best friend, Lisa, for 29 years and resides in Charlotte, NC with their 17-year-old triplets. They are active members at Elevation Church.

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Ron Furgerson — 06/12/13 12:07 pm

This definitely qualifies as a "Cool" article. Thanks. <

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

When the Light Comes On: Creatively Using the Power of Story for Your Church’s Worship

Stories move us. They engage us. They inspire us. Stories give us examples of how to act – and how not to act. The best ones stay with us forever.

How can you use the power of story for your church’s worship? Here are two powerful examples: the simplicity of a verbal  story and the imagery of a visual story. Enjoy – and learn.         – Vision Room Curator

 

When the Light Comes On

My oldest daughter isn’t sleeping well. It’s the dark. From fear of what might be under her bed, to who might be looking through her window, she has her reasons for preferring the lights on.

In fact, she has started a new nightly routine. After the house is settled and her parents are quiet, presumably asleep, she secretly slips out of her room to flip on the nearby hallway light and then returns to bed. Somehow she finds a measure of comfort from the crease of light between the floor and the bottom of her door.

But she shouldn’t be doing this. The rule is to stay in bed. And a few nights ago I caught her red-handed.

I was standing quietly in the dark hall and heard her scurrying around behind her door. She didn’t know I was there, and I suspected she was going to pull the hall light stunt. Sure enough, the door slowly cracked open. I have her, I thought. But she didn’t move. She didn’t come turn on the light. She was frozen. There, inside the frame of her door, she peered in silence at me, a black silhouette of a stranger for all she knew. Then she started to cry. I quickly flipped the light switch. “Sweetie, it’s me,” I said, picking her up in my arms. And just like that, she was fine. The light was on. She saw who I was. I hugged her with love.

The whole scene transformed when the light came on. That light uncovered my identity. Once blinded by darkness, she soon discovered that the figure in the hallway, appearing bigger and stronger than her, was actually her dad who loves her and would spend his every conceivable resource to protect her.

Revelation was the key. She had to see who I was.

God in the Dark

Do you remember what it is like to be in the dark with God?

So much of our lives — and the entire lives of some — are spent hauntingly aware of some strange presence down a pitch-black hallway. We know he is there. We recognize some silhouette of deity. We see some figure of a being our conscience says is bigger and stronger. But we don’t truly know him. And we won’t truly know him unless he turns on the light. Unless he reveals himself.

The prophets of Baal know what it’s like to be in the dark. In one of the saddest scenes in all of Scripture, 1 Kings 18:28–29, hundreds of these prophets gathered to see their god. It was a historic showdown between Elijah, the Lord’s prophet, and 450 “spokesmen” for the false god Baal. The petition was simple: send fire from heaven. Whoever answers is the true God (1 Kings 18:24). And so the prophets of Baal stepped up to the plate.

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. (1 Kings 18:26)

That’s not a good start. So they tried harder. The Bible tells us that they cried aloud and cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out (1 Kings 18:28). Until the middle of the day, they limped around bleeding and crying out for their god to hear them, to say something. Imagine that scene: 450 wounded, weeping prophets sliced up their flesh in hopes of receiving the slightest gesture from their god.

“But there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:29).

They were stuck in the dark. There was nothing to see. There is no light to reveal a no-god. The abiding darkness answers itself.

We Have a Different Story

But there’s no such darkness between the Christian and his Lord. That’s not our story. In fact, it’s the reverse. Rather than 450 prophets with wounds all over their bodies and their blood gushing out, we see our God hanging on a cross with wounds all over his body, his blood gushing out. Rather than the horrific scene of fools seeking to hear from a false god, we see the most preeminent display of love when the real God spoke to a world of fools.

We were in the dark. We deserved nothing more. And then, in unspeakable grace, the sovereign God of the universe reached up to turn on the light — “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

His voice intruded the defeated darkness. He reached down and picked us up in his arms. “It’s me,” he said. And then we learn that this God, bigger and stronger than we could ever imagine, hasn’t spared his greatest resource to not only protect us but ensure our everlasting joy (Romans 8:32).

The light is on. We see who he is. We don’t have to be afraid.

Read more from Jonathan here.

 

Elevation Creative: Elijah on Mount Carmel

During our series IN•FIN•8, we’re looking back at eight of the greatest stories forever told. To introduce each week’s sermon, our Creative Team retells one of these stories from a different perspective, in an attempt to recapture the power and impact of hearing for the first time. For part three, we combined spoken word with step-dancing to tell the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel in a dramatic new way.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Parnell

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their three children: Elizabeth, Hannah, and Micah.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

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Brand Storytelling: The Danger of a Single Story

Novelist and storyteller Chimamanda Adichie, a native of eastern Nigeria, has learned firsthand how listening to only one story can lead to critical misunderstandings. She tells of how her U.S. professor felt that her portrayal of Africans in a novel wasn’t authentic, because they were well-fed and driving cars; and of her own guilt when on a visit to Mexico, she realized that her belief in the story of Mexicans sneaking across the border and fleecing the U.S. health-care system was far from accurate. Stories are powerful, but they can create untruths when they become the only story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What brands can learn from this talk
Stories can and often will define a brand, for better or worse. While it is important for a brand to unearth its story platform—the story at the heart of the brand—and tell it in ways that inform and excite, hearing only one such story can cause misunderstanding—even if it’s a good story. Audiences hearing a single negative story can receive an even more destructive message.

If you believed the single story of energy drinks as a category, you’d believe that all brands are selling a glorified concoction of caffeine and sugar. But Red Bull has a vise-like grip on its brand story—about living life to the fullest—thus propelling them to social success and incredible brand affinity.

As a brand marketer, you must ensure that your audience hears a variety of relevant stories and forming ideas and opinions about those that come from the brand itself. That means you’ll have to not only create content but actively engage with audiences, particularly negative ones, to steer all conversations toward the truth.

Read more from Jon here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Thomas

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.