by Terry WilhiteAre you using technology to tell stories? Just how important are stories in getting your points across? In a book I heartily recommend, Annette Simmons in #/The Story Factor/#, (2001, Perseus Publishing), makes this profound statement: “People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith—faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell. It’s faith that moves mountains, not facts. Facts do not give birth to faith. Faith needs a story to sustain it—a meaningful story that inspires belief in you and renews hope that your ideas indeed offer what you promise.” Simmons then goes on to say, “Story is your path to creating faith.” And you should know, this is not even a “Christian” book, per se. Jesus used stories every time He taught. Not occasionally. Every time. Just because we have mouths, pens, paper and computers does not mean we are effective storytellers. Story telling is an art, although the elements of a good story are essentially the same every time. If you can’t tell a story on paper, video cameras and computers aren’t going to help you, but if you are a storyteller, technology can help you create an indelible memory. I heard the former chief of Disney’s creative department say that “of all the tools we have to communicate, by far, story-telling is the best.” Whether you use stories with the help of technology or not, here are some tips that will help you: 1. Stories thrive on simplicity. Short sentences. Less is more. 2. Whether your tools to tell the story are spoken or written words or whether you have a full arsenal of audio-visual resources, there’s one thing our stories must have: a clear beginning, middle, and end. When you think about the Bible, it is easy to see that creation is the beginning, the cross is the middle, and the second coming of Christ spells the end of this world. Does your story have a beginning, middle, and end? 3. All good stories have a crisis which happens toward the middle of the presentation, with the remainder of the story working to resolve the crisis. Is not our gospel the perfect example? Further, the best story put its hearers right in the middle of the action, not as an observer but as a participant. Can you not see yourself in the parables that Jesus told? As a living document, it is easy to see ourselves written into the gospel story. Do your stories “engulf” those who listen to you? 4. Well-told stories prompt hearers or readers to do something. As a Christian communicator, mark this one down. Ecclesiastes 12:11 (nlt) says: #/“A wise teacher’s words spur students to action and emphasize important truths. The collected sayings of the wise are like guidance from a shepherd.”/# Just before, in verse 10, it says, #/“Indeed, the Teacher taught the plain truth, and he did so in an interesting way.”/# 5. As a Christian communicator, your power, without exception, comes from God’s Holy Spirit, not technology! The Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Jim Cymbala, in Fresh Power (2001, Zondervan), another book I heartily recommend, says: “The churches in Acts had no New Testament (it wasn’t written), no choirs, no electronic gear, no buildings of their own, no friends in high places—and yet still shook the world.” Cymbala says further, “God didn’t send the Holy Spirit to give us thrills and chills; He sent the Spirit to empower us to win lost people to Jesus.” I’m afraid that many times we have substituted technology for the power of the Spirit. Have we? Please, Lord, forgive us.
Terry Wilhite is a music, multimedia and communications specialist. You can find communications resources at #http://www.terrywilhite.com# and e-mail him with questions at #mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org#
Portions of this article have appeared previously in #/Christian Computing/# magazine.