Three Things We Always Look For In A Story

When it comes to sharing stories in a church, there are plenty of things to consider.

Clarity is important – making sure your audience understands what your story is about. Engagement is important too – making sure you draw in an audience in a compelling way. Theme is important, pacing is important, the right visuals and music and transitions – all vitally important.

A few years ago, given all these variables and subjective decisions, our Story Team started trying to clarify what a story needed in order to be effective for our church. We all want our stories to be compelling and have impact. But how do we define and discern what we’re looking for when we tell a story?

Our team arrived at three essential elements we look for when we consider telling a story at WoodsEdge.

This one seems like a no-brainer in church, but if God doesn’t feature significantly in a story, it probably won’t be high on our list to share. In fact, part of the reason we want to share stories in the first place is to illustrate two truths about God. First, He’s good, and second, He’s working.

These may seem like obvious truths, maybe even elementary. But if you think about it, these are two of the hardest things for us to truly believe when life gets difficult. These are truths we want to keep in front of our people constantly, so God needs to play a starring role in our stories.

This one is a little more subjective and specific to us. One of the clarifying questions we ask is, - how well does this story fit the culture of our church family? Does this sound like us? Does this feel like a good fit?

Sometimes I think of it like a family photo. Some family photos we keep on our phones, but some photos we put on the wall. What’s the difference? Photos on the wall are things we’re excited to show others. They share something about our family with people who visit – who we are and what’s important. Stories in a church are kind of like family photos. We place a priority on the ones that show what we value.

This element might be the most subjective, but it speaks to relevance and resonance. Can people relate with what this story is about? And does it resonate with where people are? That’s the “me-too” element – speaking in a way that people instantly get and track with.

Storytelling is about connection. It’s so empowering to realize that you’re not alone in your struggle, that other people have been where you are. So we actively look for this in every story we share at our church.

There are plenty of other considerations for what makes an effective story at WoodsEdge, but these three elements have helped us identify the stories our people need to hear.


We’d love to hear from you on this as well. Shoot us an email and tell us how you assess potential stories for your church.