7 Kinds of Stories Every Church Leader Should Master

All ministry is communication intensive. It follows that story-telling and understanding the nuances of story will help any leader in the daily ebb and flow of communication. Use these story types to do an inventory on your own “range” of utilizing of stories as a leader.

CREATION STORY

I am not referring to the first book of Scripture but to the genesis of the organization itself. If you are a pastor, you should know more about the creation story of your church than anyone on the planet. What are the circumstances—passions, problems, and people—surrounding how the church got started to begin with? Mastering the richness of the creation story will help in two major ways. First, it will hold insight into the unique culture of the church and therefore future decision-making and vision. Second, your mastery of the story itself will bring tremendous credibility with people when initiating change.

>>ACTION STEP: Write a one-page, 2-minute creation story talk. If you have any gaps in your knowledge interview people in your church until you know more than anyone else.

SIGNATURE STORY

A signature story relates to any milestones or hand-of-God moments after the creation story. Obviously a church with more history will have more signature stories. These accounts show off strengths of the church and God’s hand in it’s history. I look for signature stories when discerning a church’s Kingdom Concept (What can your church do better than 10,000 others). These stories reveal the values and mark the high-water line of God’s activity and unique journey for each church. Use the signature stories the same way as the creation story: celebrating God’s goodness, explaining decision-making and guiding change.

>>ACTION STEP: Make a list of 3-5 possible signatures stories in your church. Ask key leaders to do the same and make a master list of the top 5.

FOLKLORE

Folklore stories are simply ones that are worth being told and retold. While there may be overlap between the first two of the list, folklore often focuses on the life change journey of individuals. Even though everyone has special stories of God’s transforming work in their lives, folklore shows off, in brilliant detail, the mission or strategy, a value or life mark, from the church’s articulated DNA (Vision Frame). Folklore often embeds a moment of modeling—like repeated prayer, gospel conversation or invitation toward an unchurched friend—that reflects “the win” we are striving for as a congregation.  Imagine a church planter who sees a convert grow with unusual intentionality to become a key leader in the church. This story could model the pattern that we hope to see repeated over and over.

>>ACTION STEP: Identify 3 stories from individuals in your church that you know could never be shared too much. Ask another leader in your church to capture all of the details of the story in a 2-page, 5-minute summary.

HORIZON STORY

Now we turn our attention of story-telling to the future. Think of the horizon story as time-machine window where you tell people what God is going to do. It may have a lead in like, “What if…” or “Imagine…” Tell me a story of what the church will be like in one year. How about three years? When crafting this vision casting story, its important not to be presumptuous. To guard against that make sure you show what we call the “God smile,” that is, remind people that this is God’s idea not yours.

>>ACTION STEP: Prepare a 2-minute story to tell someone what your church will look like in one year. To give yourself freedom, don’t worry about sharing it with anyone— you may or may not. But practice thinking about the future feel of a story.

THE GOSPEL

The centerpiece of all story-telling is the Gospel. It is important to define every other story in relationship to the grand news of God’s intervention in our world and our lives through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. You may wonder, “This is a given, so why would you mention this as an organizational story.” First, I am surprised by how many congregations are stuck in a  shallow appreciation for the Gospel’s ongoing presence and power in daily life.  Second, as you master story as a leader, you won’t want to develop and practice the other story types to the neglect of the Gospel. Rather let the Gospel develop you as you integrate it into all story-telling.

>>ACTION STEP: Grab a copy of Center Church by Tim Keller and study the section on “Atonement Grammars.” This is one of the most helpful summaries I have ever seen.

TEACHABLE POINT OF VIEW

The last two kinds of stories have to do more with the personal life of the leader. A teachable point of view, a term coined by Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine, is the story that surrounds a personal leadership learning. Informal leadership development happens best when an experienced leader, in relationship with other leaders can unpacks stories of why the do what they do. Where did this conviction come from? What led me to develop this skill? Why did I make what seemed to be a counter-intuitive decision? The more that you have thought about your leadership’s teachable point of views, the more often and intentional will be the transference of wisdom in your leadership culture.

>>ACTION STEP: Take 20 minutes and write down your top 10 learnings as a leader. Write down a few bullet points and begin to flesh out the story behind the learning.

CONVERSION STORY

The last story is the perhaps the most obvious, but I did not want it to go unstated. In my own leadership life, I have failed the most at rehearsing, in my leadership, the story of my own journey with God at its very beginning. Maybe that’s because it happened when I was in eighth grade. That seems pretty distant from the “important” leadership work of today. How many people on your leadership team know the details of how you trusted Jesus and how you grew in affection for the Gospel? Using your own conversation story as a leader is important for at least three reasons. First, it will keep you humble. Second, it’s a personal help to keep the Gospel at the center of all stories. Third, it will model for people the importance of sharing a personal testimony.

>>ACTION STEP: Create a one-page, 2-minute conversion story testimony. Practice sharing it with one person a week, asking the other person to share their conversion story.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Conscious Culture

The missional visionary is also a cultural architect. One of the basic foundation principles of Church Unique is the assertion that each church has a unique culture. While walking through the Vision Pathway, we emphasize the importance of close observation and listening in order to better understand the surrounding culture, and of unlocking the past in order to unleash the future. The leader shapes the culture with the Vision Frame, informed by the Kingdom Concept. Transforming the future is made possible because the cultural perspective is held in conscious view.

The starting point of developing a conscious culture is contained in the following three principles.

First, remember that the Scriptures reveal God’s signature.

Whatever the leader draws attention to and rallies support for, he must show the signature of God behind the appeal. The Vision Frame must be squarely and repeatedly illuminates with God’s Word. The visionary must always point back to the Original Visioneer .

Look for the passages that fuel your passion, enlarge your own vision, inform your values, and distinguish your strength as a church. Master the exposition of these texts. Then look for opportunities to ooze the vision through the pages of Scripture everywhere you go. Whenever and wherever the vision speaks, your job is to make sure God’s voice is heard.

Second, use your congregation’s folklore to tell the story.

The leader who shapes culture understands that not all stories are created equal. Folklore is a special class of story – stories that speak so fundamentally and clearly to the church’s vision that they have to be told, retold, and told again.

Life is narrative. As humans, we are hardwired to live from and respond to the stories of our lives. Story is an indispensable tool for communicating on a heart-to-heart level; for communicating things like values, passion, convictions, history and vision.

All preachers are familiar with story as either an illustrative tool or message construct for the preaching event. But it is also important to view storytelling on a broader level as a tool for creating culture. Creating culture requires the identification and development of special stories or folklore that serve as foundations, identity-shaping stories within the leadership culture. The texture and color of the culture is then pained artistically by the telling and retelling of these stories.

Finally, understand that symbols mark defining moments.

A symbol is a visible sign of something invisible. The term literally contains the idea of “throwing together” – associating something intangible with something concrete. A lion for example, is a concrete and visible way of representing the invisible, intangible idea of courage. For the leader, expression of old familiar symbols and creation of new ones can shape a culture.

One of the reasons new symbols are so important is that they cultivate a shared memory. As your vision unfolds and you see God’s work, let the use of symbols mark the moment and foster a shared memory. This memory glues the community together and multiplies the values defined by the memory.

As the leader lives the vision and speaks into the church’s culture, symbols – visible signs and symbolic acts – become powerful tools. What is the most important symbol? Does the identifying mark of your church open a door to tell a story.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Culture Trumps Everything

Martin Luther referred to the gospel as “this article.” He said, “Most necessary is that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” Luther knew that we have this proclivity to wander from our foundation. Thus we must constantly and continually beat the gospel into our hearts and into the people we serve and lead. To drill the gospel into the heads of our people, we need more than our confessions and our creeds to be centered on the gospel. We need the culture of our churches to stand firmly on Jesus and His work for us.

The culture of a church is powerful. It dominates everything else. It is constantly teaching, constantly showing people what is most important. By culture, I am not referring to a church’s ethnic or socio-economic mix. I am referring to the shared values and beliefs that undergird all the church does. And while your doctrinal statement, your strategy for reaching your community, and your leadership structure are important, in many ways your church culture trumps them all. For example:

If the doctrine of the church is that all believers are priests and ministers because our great high priest has made us priests through His death, yet the culture of the church values only “professional ministers” – the culture will trump the doctrinal confession. A pastor preaching Ephesians 4:11-12 one time will not automatically remove the unrealistic and unbiblical expectation that the pastor is the one who does all the ministry.

If the doctrine of the church is the true and accurate belief that the sacrifice of Jesus is bigger than any sin, yet the culture does not allow for openness and confession, someone who admits a struggle will be unlikely to experience mercy expressed from another. A graceless culture overpowers a grace-filled confession.

If the doctrine of the church is we are to live as missionaries because Jesus stepped into our culture to rescue us, but the culture of the church focuses almost exclusively on the church calendar and what happens in the building – the culture will attempt to squelch and suffocate desires to serve the surrounding community.

Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He was not diminishing strategy. He was simply recognizing the overwhelming influence culture has on people. If the culture of a church is at odds with the doctrinal confession of the church, the culture typically wins. The unstated message speaks louder than the stated one.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Elements of Powerful Stories

Here are five elements that you will help you tell more powerful stories:

  1. Powerful stories resonate within us. A good story connects in your soul. We’ve all read or been told stories where the actions of the characters have stirred something inside of us. We identify with the heroes and the villains, because we all have those tendencies inside of us. Look for ways where your story shares a common thread with the story of humanity.
  2. Powerful stories show the light and the dark. Whether you are telling a personal story, or a fictional one, it’s tempting to make the hero invincible and the villain the very definition of evil. But this is rarely the case, and something people cannot relate to. When something goes right in our life, it’s easy to celebrate. When something goes wrong, and we make a mistake, it is crucial to be honest and work toward making the wrong right. In most cases, people will forgive the mistakes they are made aware of but are furious when even little things are covered up or ignored.
  3. Powerful stories point to a greater cause. In the movie Gladiator, the dying emperor Marcus Aurelius, asks Maximus, Marcus: “Why are we here?
    Maximus: “For the glory of Rome”
    Marcus: “What is Rome, Maximus?”
    Maximus: “I have seen much of the world, and it is cold, and dark. Rome is the light”
    Marcus: “Yet you have never been there!
    Maximus believed in the glory and purpose of Rome, despite having never seen it. What purpose do you live and work for, despite it only being a whisper in your soul?
    Your company, and your life, is not about you! This can be the hardest lesson we ever learn. Our lives must point to a purpose greater than our own well-being. People will rarely align with your self-interest, but they will align for a common goal.

 

To read the rest of Matt’s post go here.

To read more from Matt go here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Ragland

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Changing Your Church’s Culture Rarely Works Out

The Boston Globe recently ran a front-page story in their “Ideas” section on organizational culture, inspired by some depressing events involving the Boston University hockey team. It was much more impactful than the average writing about culture, and raised the important question: Why do conversations about an important topic like culture typically go nowhere, leading companies to waste time and money with “cultural change efforts” which very seldom work?

Here is the problem: First, virtually no one clearly defines what they mean by “culture,” and when they do they usually get it wrong. Second, virtually no one has read the original research that shows why culture – when clearly defined – is so important, how it is formed, and how it changes.

Definition: Culture consists of group norms of behavior and the underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place. Take your work, for example, a place where almost everyone shows up between 8:55 and 9:05. Why? Not because the CEO has decreed it, or because people are fired if they don’t do it. That’s just the way it is! That is a group norm. Why does it exist? And why doesn’t it go away when Gen X or Y individuals are hired? My guess: People are hired who embrace the value of respecting others, including other people’s time, so they also show up to meetings on time, and anyone who doesn’t gets a glaring look from everyone else.

Where does culture come from? It usually comes from the founders of the group. For whatever reason, they value certain things and behave in ways that seem to help the group succeed. Success is key. So it seeps into the group’s DNA.

How does culture change? A powerful person at the top, or a large enough group from anywhere in the organization, decides the old ways are not working, figures out a change vision, starts acting differently, and enlists others to act differently. If the new actions produce better results, if the results are communicated and celebrated, and if they are not killed off by the old culture fighting its rear-guard action, new norms will form and new shared values will grow.

What does NOT work in changing a culture? Some group decides what the new culture should be. It turns a list of values over to the communications or HR departments with the order that they tell people what the new culture is. They cascade the message down the hierarchy, and little to nothing changes.

In summary, that’s the whole story.

Read more from John here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Kotter

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

10 Elements of a Great Company Culture

Building a company culture of engaged employees takes years and requires consistent execution.  I boiled down our culture strategy into 10 essential components I call the “10 Cs of Culture.”

1. Core Values

I used to be very cynical about “core values.”  I thought these were just mottos written on plaques hanging on the wall.  But when we implemented our values strategy at Beryl about 10 years ago, I began to see how they guided everyday decision-making and how employees referenced them in meetings.  I came to realize they are essential guideposts when developed, communicated, and executed in a consistent manner.  Values are those behaviors that will never change no matter how the company changes.  Today, our values are not only painted on the walls, but also discussed from the first day an employee joins Beryl.  We start every big meeting with a conversation about values and tell stories about how our coworkers live by those values on a daily basis.

2. Camaraderie

Camaraderie is about having fun.  It’s about getting to know colleagues not just as colleagues, but what they’re like outside the office.  To do that, Beryl hosts dress-up days, parties, games, and events all the time.  We have annual traditions like family day, the Gong show, March Madness, the fall festival, and a holiday party.  We include not only employees, but also their families.  We publish a bi-monthly full-color magazine called Beryl Life that is sent to the homes of co-workers.  Kids of our employees compete to design the t-shirt for our annual family day and families even participate in our talent show

3. Celebrations

You can’t underestimate the importance of recognizing your team.  While it may be important for your people to hear from the CEO, it also feels great for them to hear from peers.  At Beryl, we developed a program we call PRIDE (Peers Recognizing Individual Deeds of Excellence).  This allows coworkers to recognize others for living up to Beryl’s core values.  We also have quarterly contests for people who have received PRIDE certificates.  We go out of our way to celebrate personal successes too, like baby showers, sports accomplishments, or educational milestones.

4. Community

Part of the fabric of a successful company culture is connecting with and giving back to the local community.  Even though Beryl is a national company serving national customers, we have dedicated countless hours to community service in Bedford, Texas (where Beryl is based) to help those in need.  This not only helps the organization’s Beryl support, but brings great pride to staffers.

5. Communication

At Beryl, I encourage formal and informal communication consistently and at all levels of the company.  I hold quarterly Town Hall meetings, which includes six meetings over two days.  This is a challenge since Beryl is a 24-hour call center; we make money being on the phone, not off it.  Yet I also have informal “chat and chews” where I bring in lunch for 12 to 15 people and just ask one question–How’s it going?–to get the conversation started.  I send a monthly personal letter to the staff with pictures of my family, and set up an internal website called “Ask Paul” for anyone that has a question not easy to share in a group.

6. Caring

Show your employees you genuinely care about them in the totality of their lives.  To do this at Beryl, we set up a program called BerylCares.  Any manager can explain a situation on an internal website that identifies a coworker, and lists what’s going on (birth, death, injury, wedding, among other things).  That submission generates an email to me that is my trigger to send a personal notecard, make a phone call, or visit someone in a hospital.  We also provide behind-the-scenes financial help to people who need extra assistance.

7. Commitment to Learning

Show your employees you’re committed to their professional growth. This can be done in small, incremental steps. You might set up a book club, say. But it can become more formal over time by subscribing to online learning programs or developing management training courses.

8. Consistency

Culture is based on traditions.  When you come up with great programs or events, make them regular events and do them consistently. One-time efforts to improve the culture will feel disingenuous.  This can take years, but makes a profound difference, that pays off when employees enjoy where they work and genuinely like their colleagues.

9. Connect

Don’t isolate yourself at the top.  Connect with people at all levels of your company.  Get out of your comfort zone.  At Beryl, I’ve starred in funny videos that put me in uncompromising or embarrassing positions.  If the staff plans a dress-up day or ping-pong tournament, I participate.  I laugh and cry with employees, too.

10. Chronicles

Does everyone in your organization know how the company started?  Do they know the personal stories of the founders and what led them to build a sustainable business?  People want to know they are part of something special and unique.  Greet new employees by telling the history of the company, and impart stories that led to current culture and strategies.

Read more from Paul here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Spiegelman

Paul Spiegelman is founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Beryl Companies, which includes: BerylHealth, a technology-focused patient experience company dedicated to improving relationships between healthcare providers and consumers; The Beryl Institute, a membership organization that serves as the global community of practice and premier thought leader on improving the patient experience in healthcare; The Circle, a training company that helps businesses enhance employee engagement and develop more positive workplace cultures; and The Small Giants Community, a global organization that brings together leaders who are focused on values-based business principles. Paul is leading a unique, people-centric culture that has remarkably high employee and customer retention rates. BerylHealth has won nine “best place to work” awards, including the #2 Best Medium Sized Company to Work for in America. Recently, Spiegelman was honored with the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year award. Paul is a sought-after speaker and author on executive leadership, entrepreneurship, corporate culture, customer relationships and employee engagement. His views have been published in Entrepreneur, The Dallas Morning News, Inc Magazine., Healthcare Financial Management, Leadership Excellence and many other noteworthy publications, as well as in his first internationally published book Why is Everyone Smiling? The Secret Behind Passion, Productivity and Profit. His current book, written by Beryl employees, is called Smile Guide: Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit. Paul practiced law for two years prior to founding Beryl. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California Los Angeles and a law degree from Southwestern University in Los Angeles. He mentors MBA students at Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University, as well as nurse executives in the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and on the board of the Entrepreneurs For North Texas.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The 22 Rules of Storytelling According to Pixar

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she’s received working for the animation studio over the years. It’s some sage stuff, although there’s nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A truly glaring omission.

#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 very 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 do 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.

Read more from Emma here.

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Emma Coats

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.