Stories are a powerful way to communicate and connect. From advertising to our dinner tables, stories saturate our lives. God’s Word is filled with stories, communicating our fallenness and Jesus’ faithfulness. As we use stories in church communications (social media, blog, video, website, etc.), it’s vital that our narratives continually point back to Jesus - his life, death, and resurrection.
Being the sinful humans that we are, this isn’t always the easiest task. We can be tempted to talk about ourselves, our power, our strength, and our determination. In doing so, we veer off track and lose sight of the precious hope we’re called to share.
In striving to keep stories Christ-focused, we can use a few questions to keep us on track:
Here are a few storytelling examples that do this well, driving the reader/viewer to Jesus:
In a recent reflection on the 30th anniversary of the LCMS Northern Illinois District’s newspaper, the Northern Light, communications and media editor Jackie Bussert briefly told of the publication’s history. While she could’ve recounted the number of articles she’s written and edited with great detail, she pointed to reason the Northern Light exists: to be “a record of what happens when people hear (the Gospel), and the Holy Spirit works faith in their hearts.” Using the words of Job 19:23-27, Bussert shares the hope found in our Redeemer, Jesus, that drives not only the communications team, but the district she serves.
St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas, under the direction of Meredith Whitefield (the congregation’s media director), produced this video of “Cardboard Testimonies”. Using a crisp shooting style, they’re upfront with the reality of sin and its impact on the lives of those featured. Yet, shining brightly through the brokenness of this world is the light of Christ, as participants flip their cardboard signs, revealing the hope and healing Jesus has brought to their lives.
The Eyes of Life project, through LCMS Life Ministry, shares stories that celebrate the gift of life “from the tiniest, unborn baby to the oldest man or woman eager to be at home with Jesus” and many situations in between. The individuals and families featured on their website all have a common bond: they are beloved children of God, members of the body of Christ who live in His love and mercy. Each story shared points to Jesus’ saving work and the project as a whole is founded on the One who gave His life and “redefines our lives in His.”
Christ-focused storytelling can also direct us toward opportunities in daily life to think and talk about Jesus’ life and work. A few months ago, we wanted to give our congregation and community a look into a weekly class for parents and their young children called Toddler Time and asked one of our regular attendees to share her family’s perspective. In her piece, Nicole King guides the reader through a Monday morning with her boys, bringing them to Toddler Time, singing songs, doing crafts, and hearing a Bible story. She shares how the hour they spend with other young families points them to Jesus, not only then, but as they go about the rest of their day.
You don’t have to look far to find good stories to tell: the messy, the ordinary, and the joyful. As we write, film, edit, discuss, and post, we look for connections that point to Jesus and His Word, for He is the very one who animates our lives and stories. He works in and through these messy, ordinary, and joyful situations and the unchanging truth of His Word will always inform our hope.
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