Whether we realize it or not, stories are prevalent in all of our lives. They build our imaginations and shape how we process relational, cultural, and spiritual truths. In fact, the human brain is wired to think in narrative.
That’s why, on today’s episode of the Think Orange Podcast, we explore how storytelling can be a powerful tool for communicators to all age groups. First, we’re joined by Reggie Joiner, who unpacks how stories over time can give us perspective about a very big God. Then Robert Carnes, author of The Original Storyteller, dives into some practical ways church leaders can use stories to connect with their audiences starting this Sunday.
The six things every kid needs over time (1:42)
Ashley’s storytelling tip: Find what about the story excites you and use that passion as you communicate (4:05)
Reggie Joiner talks about the power of stories over time (7:30)
Stories over time can expand a child’s imagination in a way that can shape his or her perspective (7:49)
Kids need family, cultural, and spiritual stories (8:05)
As a parent or ministry leader, your role is to reimagine yourself as a story collector, storyteller, and librarian (9:41)
Maybe God designed stories so collectively over time they could give us a deeper perspective of His universal truths and character (10:05)
The human brain is wired to think in narrative (11:00)
Without your imagination, you can’t see past what you already know, you can’t care how someone else feels, and you can’t hope beyond your present situation (11:39)
Fictional stories have the power to inspire ideas and build empathy (12:44)
Stories have the potential to stretch our perspectives about a very big God (15:00)
Dave and Ashley’s interview with Robert Carnes (19:50)
Four key elements that make up a good story (22:27)
The story of the prodigal son as an example of these four elements (25:30)
Mistakes communicators make when it comes to storytelling (26:04)
Tips for understanding and knowing your audience better (28:58)
Helping younger audiences understand conflict in a story (32:02)
An explanation of the hero’s journey (33:45)
In a church context, the audience is the hero, the communicator is the mentor, and Jesus is the resolution (36:02)
One thing communicators can do this Sunday to improve their storytelling (41:23)
Dave and Ashley’s final thoughts (43:43)
People, Places & Helpful Resources
It’s Just a Phase—So Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy
The Original Storyteller by Robert Carnes
MarriedPeople (curriculum and strategy)
Blog: Orange Leaders – a blog with strategies, tips and ideas from leaders influencing the faith and character of the next generation
Reggie is founder and CEO of Orange (The reThink Group). He has co-written three parenting books, Don’t Miss It, Playing for Keeps and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity as well as other leadership books including A New Kind of Leader and Think Orange. Reggie lives in Georgia with his wife, Debbie, and has four grown children, Reggie Paul, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebekah.
Quotes from This Episode
Without your imagination, you can’t see past what you already know, you can’t care how someone else feels, and you can’t hope beyond your present situation. Click To TweetStories have the potential to stretch our perspectives about a very big God. Click To TweetIf you’re going to tell stories that connect with your audience, you need to understand where they are in their own stories. Click To Tweet
Ideas to Influence the Next Generation
If you want to connect with a diverse audience, understand a diverse range of perspectives.
It’s no secret there are people in your audience who don’t think like you, live like you, or believe like you. As you approach a story, build rapport with your audience by drawing out places where they might not agree or would have questions. Avoid using absolute statements like, “Of course, we all know that . . . ” The goal of good storytelling is to draw people in, not to leave them feeling alienated.
If you want to connect with a wide audience, use a variety of stories.
Not everyone in your audience is going to be into the same things, so be sure to tell stories that grab the attention of people with a range of backgrounds, hobbies, and professions. For example, there may be members of your audience who would get sick of hearing sports analogies week after week. If you’re a communicator, take time to ask others around you what stories come to mind when they think of a specific principle or topic. Do your research and don’t always go with the first story that comes to mind. Once you choose what story you’ll tell, be sure to tell it in a way that everyone in your audience can follow along. You can do this by avoiding insider lingo and not including over-complicated details.
If you want to connect with a specific age group, pay attention to what stories already connect with them.
While it’s true that every kid and student is unique, there are books, movies, and real-life stories that can capture the attention of an entire generation. Knowing what stories already resonate with your audience will go a long way in shaping the stories you choose in your communication. If you work with preschoolers, find out what’s streaming on Nick Jr. Or if you’re in college ministry, check out what movies hit it big at the box office last weekend. Doing your homework will not only help you speak your audience’s language, but it will give you a glimpse into where they’re at in their personal stories as well.
Conversation Starters For Your Church
What’s one of your favorite movies, books, or other stories? What about this story captures your attention?
What are some of the most important Bible stories we want a preschooler to hear? How about an elementary-age kid? A middler schooler? High school? Adults?
Is there an element of Sunday morning we treat as fact-based that could be elevated by pairing it with a story (e.g. announcements, worship, giving)?
What’s one thing we can do this week to invite those in our church to share their own stories of life change?
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.