Some of you may know that for the first five years of my professional life, I was a local TV news reporter. Covering everything from devastating tornados to a light- hearted cup-stacking championship, I was that guy standing out in front of some building reporting the story each night.

The fun part of being a journalist was never knowing what a day at work would bring. But no matter the daily assignment, I got to meet ordinary people facing unordinary circumstances and tell their story.

As I think back on those days, I realize there are some journalistic fundamentals that will help you become a better storyteller in your church setting.

Everyone has a story to tell. You’ll often hear people say their life is boring or uneventful. But the more you get to know someone, the more you realize every person is unique. Their story can resonate and impact others.

There’s more than one side to a story. And often there are three or four. Think about who’s involved and impacted by the core issue of what you’re communicating. Who are the main players? For example, if you’re telling the story of someone who’s overcome addiction, wouldn’t it be fuller if you also included friends or family who were impacted by that addiction?

Emotion. That doesn’t always mean sad. Happy is good, too. Yet often, good stories are an emotional arc. Joy can come out of pain. Happiness can grow from anger. The main point is, good stories stir others to take action. Emotion is contagious and a great tool for telling an engaging story.

Movement. Great stories rarely stand still in time. Something in the past led to the change someone is experiencing today. The vision your church casts today won’t be seen for some time. Regardless of the story you’re telling, take it on a full journey. Where does the story start and end? Why are those points important?

Strong supporting assets. Crafty wordsmithing is a key piece of telling a story, but even the most vivid language often needs some sort of support for people to remember what you’re sharing. Think of the visual or audio assets that add value to your story whether it’s a video, website, handout or an on-stage announcement. Your audience will consume and remember information in different ways. A picture might help a visual learner engage with your message. A prop held in the pastor’s hand while telling a story might make the moment more memorable. The right music could help stir emotion in a video. Challenge yourself to find the right, creative element for a story and resist the generic or disconnected elements that might be easier to use. An image used incorrectly can kill a moment just as fast as a good asset can make it shine.

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