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October 16, 2013

Creating Culture through Storytelling

by Matt Ulrich

Storytelling-HereEveryone loves a good story.  It is what we grow up listening to and being enthralled with, and there is a reason stories work… especially in regards to leadership and culture creation. This post explores how great microchurch leaders leverage the art of storytelling to create culture and see results in their microchurch by choosing the right stories to tell.

Since the beginning, stories have been used to communicate, to teach, to inspire, and to entertain.  Good leaders have picked up on the power of stories and use them wisely to effectively lead small and large groups of people.  Stories have a very unique place in the leadership realm, particularly in a microchurch setting.  Most leaders are focused on having a good microchurch meeting, but the great microchurch leaders cast a vision through storytelling that not only benefits the evening, but shapes and molds the microchurch with the stories they tell.  Here are a few reasons why I believe stories are critical for microchurch leaders to grasp and own:

1. Stories are powerful teaching tools.  It is one thing to listen to someone tell you what they want to see; it is another to see it fleshed out in a story.  Stories are unique in that they can provide both knowledge and motivation at the same time.  Instead of a dry depiction of what you want to see, stories can be part entertainment and still be part instruction.  Sometimes that only way to truly help someone “get it” is to illustrate it through an example in a story.

2. Stories stick. People don’t necessarily remember the points you make, they remember the stories you tell.  Most communicators think it is the opposite; say 1-3 important points and then back them up with some fluffy stories.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth!  Sure people might write down your Bible study bullet points, but unless they pull that specific piece of paper out in the future, odds are they are not going to remember them… but they do remember the stories you tell.  Stories trigger a different part of the brain and when a story invokes a visceral, emotional response, there is a far greater likelihood it will be something that sticks in the hearts and minds of the listeners.  Child sponsorship companies have this perfectly crafted.  Most people could care less about the statistics of the kids around the world that are hungry and uneducated, but when you tell the story of Pablo and show his sweet but dirty little face, you can’t help but be moved by his story.  The story brings the reality of the situation to life.

3. Stories create culture.  Don’t share stories just to share stories; great leaders are strategic and intentional with the stories they tell.  Stories, more than anything, create culture.  So if you want your microchurch to be missionally focused, then start telling stories about people who have been missional in your microchurch.  You will soon notice that your microchurch will start to want to get in on the action.  Stories also create an unspoken expectation that this is what you as a leader want to see without even having to formally say it.  Once they hear enough stories about missional living, people will start to feel the positive peer pressure that missional living is who you are as a microchurch and start pursuing that themselves and bam!  You now have a missional culture.

So leverage the ancient art of storytelling to help move your microchurch closer to living out the reality of the Acts church and the vision that God has given you for your microchurch!!

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