Welcome back to another episode of the Think Orange Podcast.
A boy living under the stairs discovers he’s a wizard. The unlikely team of a reindeer, a snowman, and an adolescent girl breaks an icy spell that grips their entire kingdom. A released prisoner finds his redemption in the raising of a young girl. Stories are all around us. They shape cultures, give us a sense of belonging, and cheer us on to do great things. That’s why, in Episode 18 of the Think Orange Podcast, we’re turning our attention to how to tell a compelling story.
Heather Zempel, from National Community Church, talks about the power of story through the lens of the biblical account of the healing of a paralyzed man whose friends carried him to Jesus on a mat. Then Dan Scott, Curriculum Director of 252 Kids and Preteen and an expert on what makes a great story joins us for a conversation about what research has shown about the role stories can play in the lives of those in our ministries.
Welcome to Episode 18 of the Think Orange Podcast.
Story is a big part of our culture today (1:02)
Beginning of Heather Zempel dialogue on why stories matter (4:54)
The Bible, the story of God, is planted in our hearts from eternity (4:54)
Three components of good storytelling:
- Likeable, relatable characters (6:37)
- An awareness of the story’s original context (8:23)
- A conflict to be overcome—the greater the conflict, the greater the story (10:14)
Beginning of Dan Scott interview (12:04)
How story can connect people to the heart of God (13:54)
Story = a problem + a solution (14:33)
As ministry leaders, small group leaders, and communicators, we have the opportunity to play the character of a guide in people’s stories (15:48)
The advantages of weaving in story versus traditional teaching (16:14)
Storytelling creates an experience for the audience instead of just communicating words they listen to (17:24)
Leadership isn’t about creating picture-perfect moments but about developing stories (18:21)
Empathy is at the center of effective storytelling (23:24)
The ability to tell a story is connected to what it means to be created in God’s image (29:20)
The best story you can tell is the one you know best: your own (31:53)
How to measure if a story effectively reaches its audience (33:53)
Telling stories that span across cultures and people groups (37:15)
Brain science tells us that kids need a call to action to connect the dots to their own lives, but adults are capable of responding to an emotional pull (40:29)
Dave and Ashley’s final thoughts (42:35)
Jesus is the goal of the story, the hero is whoever is listening—what can you tell them that leads them to the end goal? (44:14)
People, Places & Helpful Resources
Dan Scott is the Large Group Director for 252 Basics Group at Orange. He spends most of his time leading a creative team of talented writers that innovate our large group environments. Prior to coming on board at Orange, Dan served as the Elementary Children’s Director at Ada Bible Church. He enjoys traveling around the world coaching children’s ministry leaders and speaking to kids and students. He blogs about life and ministry at danscottblog.com. Dan and his wife Jenna live in Cumming, GA and have four amazing kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye.
Heather Zempel is the discipleship pastor at National Community Church in Washington, DC where she oversees small groups, directs leadership development training, and serves on the weekend teaching team. She is the author of Sacred Roads: Exploring the Historic Paths of Discipleship and Community is Messy.
Quotes from This Episode
We have to remember that the stories of the Bible don’t begin, 'Once upon a time.' Click To TweetThe reason we have the greatest story ever told is because we have the greatest hero that’s ever lived that’s overcome the greatest conflict that ever was. Click To TweetYou are helping guide the story your church is telling your community. Click To TweetStorytelling is connected to what it means to be created in God’s image. No other creature on the planet that can do that. Click To Tweet
Ideas to Influence the Next Generation
Have you ever looked around your church and thought, “Are we actually accomplishing anything?” If you’ve been in ministry for very long, there’s a good chance you’ve wondered this from time to time. But the truth is, there’s probably way more happening than you even realize. For every individual in your church, there’s a story attached. And those stories are adapting and changing every day. As a leader, there are three things you can do to answer that question, “Is anything actually happening?”
1.Invite people to share their stories.
Develop a culture in your church that when God moves in the life of an individual or family, they’re eager to share it with others. That might mean having a special button on your church’s homepage, inviting people to chime in on social media, or occasionally prompting people from the stage. Incredible things are probably happening all around you, and you just need to give people permission to speak up about how God is at work.
2. Help people connect the dots.
Some people in your church have great stories and they don’t even realize it. For example, you might know a single mom of a fifth grader who just has her head down trying to survive the day to day of raising kids and keeping things moving. But you recognize how her continual commitment to bring her kid to church week after week is changing how he treats others in his small group. When you see stories unfolding around you, take a minute to help their key characters celebrate the part they’re playing in them.
3. Share the stories you’ve been told.
As a leader, you’re probably the most likely person to hear about the good things happening in your church. You’re the person who gets the happy emails or has small group leaders coming to find you after group on Sunday morning. As you receive these stories, be sure to collect them in a central location—maybe a folder in your email or a special box you keep on your desk. But don’t keep them for yourself. That way, next time you have something like a parent meeting or small group leader training, you’ll already have a stockpile of exciting stories to share that will encourage and motivate others in your community.
Conversation Starters For Your Church
In our communication, how can we better share the truth of God’s Word through the vehicle of story?
As a church, do we regularly celebrate stories of life-change unfolding in our midst? This week, what’s one way we can continue to improve in this area?
What are some of the great stories we’ve heard lately that we should be sharing with others in our ministry?
When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.
Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.
Join Us Next Week
Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.
We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.