Storytelling Rules.

Storytelling is used everywhere! As a church we have the most incredible, life-changing, powerful story to tell and share with the world…the Gospel. Churches mainly use storytelling in testimonies, cantatas, videos, promo videos, etc. Maybe your church has even more things it does when it comes to storytelling. Here are a few tips I grabbed on to on storytelling…from Disney Pixar’s own, Emma Coats. Yea…she’s legit. Although she is now a director in L.A she knows a thing or two about storytelling:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Emma CoatsTwitter: @lawnrocket

Why? Who?


Every time I find a cool video or read an article in Church Production Magazine, Collide, 8bit, Hillsong Collected, etc.
I am reminded of how awesome I am not. When it comes to making use of media around me as an effective tool in ministry, I’m no expert.

I am completely humbled when I hear/read about others in media ministry who know how to do so many things:

Constructing a contemporary worship space using lighting and visuals, launching an Internet campus, design a church logo, make a motion loop, shoot video on a green screen, build a website…….[don’t worry the list goes on]… produce a mobile app, podcast sermons, laying out and printing incredible mailers, run a digital mixer and light board, use presentation software to its full potential, and daily write some of the most hilarious and cunning blog posts that always seem to change the lives of 100’s if not 1,000’s of readers. Not to mention they do it with wise observations and biblical knowledge. Who can measure up to that?

I know I most certainly can become overwhelmed easily when it comes to trying to learn all of these things, but I just need to remember to keep my head up and my focus on the God.
Focus on why and who.

Why am I making motion loops? Why am I using presentation software? Why am I learning how to go about designing a church’s logo? Why am I incorporating visual worship during the service? Am I doing it so that the church will be considered the cutting edge church in town?
Am I using media to look “cool” to the younger generation of our area? Or do I sincerely want to draw people to God using these tools?

I’m finishing a book called Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, by Shane Hipps. This book takes you to deep into contemplating just how technologies we use can have such an effect on us. I’m gonna be honest and say that I don’t agree with everything Shane discusses but Its a great eye opener.

Well Shane talks a little about how technology is an extension of ourselves. [Like gun are extensions of our fist; Forks and knives, extensions of our teeth; cars are extensions of our feet; glasses are extensions of our eyes; smoke detectors are extensions of our sense of smell/security and telephones are the extensions of our voice/ear]. And the more we extend ourselves the more the world changes. It becomes an even a”smaller, smaller world.” So we have to be aware that as part of a creative media team in our churches or anywhere else for that matter…we are given the responsibility to draw people to Christ through this medium of technology. I’ve heard it said the methods always change, but the message stays the same. Continue reading