The Power of a Story

The Power of a Story

In my over twenty years as a Southern Baptist pastor, few people commented on my sermon points. I think they forgot them before they left the building! But they still remember many of the illustrations and stories I told to this day to buttress my points. That’s the power of a story. Think about it, what do we most remember about Jesus’ teachings? His parables. Parables are earthly stories with a heavenly message. Jesus knew the power of a story.

After twenty years of pastoral ministry, I have spent over twenty years in the stewardship ministry. I have worked with top 100 churches in attendance and many churches running 100. In each of those settings, I have found that when it comes to making your budget, one of the best ways to hit that number is to tell stories. You must connect how a dollar given at your church makes the world a better place. There is no more effective way to do that than by telling the story of what your church is accomplishing for the Kingdom. When making your budget, you need to implement the power of a story.

What’s your story? A few years ago, instead of asking a church what its vision was, I started asking leaders what their story was. That leads me to one of my key giving mantras I share with clients…

Get a story, work your story, tell your story, and people will give to support your story.

My friend, Herb Buwalda, has a great way of breaking out the difference between mission and vision. He says…

Mission – Answers the question…Why are we here?

Vision – Answers the question…Where are we going on behalf of our mission?

Stories of life change illustrate your mission and vision in action. Sharing those stories helps people connect how a gift in the offering impacts others.

This year, try storyboarding your budget. My nephew, Sterling Gates, is a comic book writer. He has written issues of Super Girl, the Flash, and others. Once, he shared with me how he worked. He and the illustrator would storyboard each part of the comic book story, frame by frame. What if instead of presenting your members with a set of numbers on a piece of paper, you told the story behind each line item in your budget? What if you found creative ways to present your yearly budget by telling your story to connect life change to line items in the budget? Then, after the budget is passed, don’t stop telling the story behind the budget. Why?

Your members are bombarded with more than 3,000 marketing messages every 24 hours. Most of those messages are based on some story. The better the story, the more people remember it. The day after the Super Bowl, the ads that most resonated with people were those with compelling messages or stories. Thus, your story must be compelling to be heard above the roar of everything coming at your members. Our story is the greatest story ever told. We simply need to tell it better and more often. This is why we recommend and provide you with a weekly Mission and Ministry Moment.

With all these messages bombarding your members, you must communicate creatively and consistently to get your story heard. Not only are your members getting thousands of messages daily, they are also receiving those messages across multiple platforms. So, you must have multiple platforms with multiple messaging streams to be heard. We advise sharing your story across all platforms, from social media to your website. Why? Because studies have long shown that people process information differently. Gone are the days when you can make one announcement from the platform, and everyone hears it. Even before Covid, physical attendance was down. We must find ways to stay connected with our members.

What’s your story? Spend time with your staff or leadership team storyboarding your budget and offerings. Show your members the power of giving by telling your story. Doing so will increase your giving!

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