What's Your Story?
As a teenager, my father asked the question "What's your story?" in greeting when my friends showed up at our house. Now I often find myself offering similar salutations to the churches that I serve. Why is this question my de facto way to initiate a conversation? Perhaps it’s the word “story.” For me, the word always exudes a certain magic, a promise of adventure, an open door to new realms. For me, the word “story” is an invitation to be a part of something greater than my humdrum daily life. And according to writer C.S. Lewis, I’m not alone. He postulated that people crave the epic, they yearn to be part of something larger than themselves. And as a church, how can we help people connect to the epic and ongoing story of the people of God?
What are the stories we share?
At the basic level, we tell “church” stories at a few levels:
- Foundational stories of our faith, scriptural stories,
- Denominational stories, i.e., the lens by with we interpret scripture, and our tradition and history of doing so,
- Communal stories, who we are as a particular congregation in a particular community at a particular time,
- Individual stories, who each of us is as part of a faith community.
These stories serve an important purpose, they orient and inspire us. They are the means by which we craft our identity as Christians, as members of a particular denomination, and as participants in a particular faith community. When our storytelling is confined within the walls of our churches, however, and is shared solely between current members of our congregations, we miss an opportunity to extend the impact and to preach the good news to a wider world. How can we leverage our personal relationships, how can we meet people where they are if they aren’t in the pews beside us?
Telling stories in the digital space
More and more, the digital space is the fertile meeting ground for people to share stories. Church websites and social media accounts, and the social media accounts of church members themselves, are the platforms by which we can be invitational, encouraging others to see themselves as part of the ongoing story of the people of God, even inviting others to share in the very creation the story itself. And even better than the written word, video is an exciting format for storytelling! Whether professionally recorded and edited, or DIY collaborative works captured on cell phones, video storytelling provokes an emotional response and sense of engagement that exceeds most written expressions.
Here are some of my favorite examples of shared stories of faith told in the digital space, as well as resources to help you become a better storyteller. Now go and tell your story!
Faith and Wonder – a blog about learning and telling our sacred stories “with spirit.” In addition to tips and techniques on how to tell stories in person, here is one of my favorite examples of a collaborative retelling of the Easter story.
Episcopal Video Network – a network of media-minded Episcopalians that wish to use their creative and entertainment backgrounds to develop current and relevant digital content that responds to the needs and desires of a modern society. Check out their extensive How To guide to get started telling your story in the digital space!
Cardboard Testimonials – do a Google search and you’ll find countless example of churches, organizations, and individuals offering their testimonials as to how their faith or their participation in a faith community has changed their lives. Here’s an example featuring Episcopalians around the country, created at the Evangelism Matters conference in Dallas.
Have you created a powerful story in the digital space? Please share it with us!
- Lisa Brown, Director of Digital Ministry
Our goal at Membership Vision is to help churches and other faith communities to tell their stories in the digital space. Each church, irrespective of size, has a living and active story to tell, and technology provides an opportunity to share that story in a way that is welcoming and engaging. Technology can also distract us and keep us from connecting with one another. It can be a burden to keep communications current, to engage in the many ways that members of your community connect with each other, both inside and outside of the church walls. We aim to remove technological hurdles and allow churches to communicate online in an effective and sustainable way. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 626-0143 to talk about the ways we can help your church build a digital presence.