Story Value: Four Takeaways


by Gary Moreland, guest blogger

Stories are valuable because people are wired to keep listening and to follow your story to where you want to lead them.

This is an ingrained human trait – God has wired every person to respond to the Gospel story. So every human responds to the story form.

Novelists and movie-makers take advantage of this and study what forms of story work best to keep people moving where they want. They know if they do it wrong, people put the book down or get bored with the movie.

Some basic definitions of story:

  • Story happens in time and space: “The other day I was in line at Wal-Mart . . .” Story shows and doesn’t just tell.
  • The listener is drawn into wanting to know what happens next: “and then . . . and then … “
  • Something happens in story. It moves. It’s a movie, not snapshot. It goes somewhere.
  • Story makes you feel something–it doesn’t just tell you a feeling.

“The King died” is data. “The King died and the Queen died of a broken heart” is story.

Story doesn’t mean truth is not important – it just means you’ll pass on truth in a way that people hear and understand.

Story is valuable because you can then take the listener where you want: into a feeling, a conviction, a truth, a response.

Story connects people.

A friend shared with me about a trip to the mountains with her 8 year-old son who loved the views when they arrived. But the next morning was foggy.

“You know what, Mom?” he said, “Even though I can’t see the mountains I know they’re still there. Just like God.” When I heard that I connected with her mom heart melting because her boy was ‘getting it.’

She could have just told me, “You know God is always there even when he seems distant.”

We use the story form so people hear with their heads—and their hearts–what we have to say.

Gary thinks story is so valuable that he’s written a book that illustrates its use. Find out more at AFAMILYSHAPEDBYGRACE.COM.

You will appreciate a related blogpost Chartres Cathedral and You.