If anyone knows the power of a good story, it’s a theologian. Much of the Bible is told in story form, from the oral traditions of the Hebrew Bible to the detailed telling of the book of Acts. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been called “the greatest story every told,” and it is a story that has changed the world over the past 2,000-plus years.
Consider how the church has grown, from a dozen disciples to billions, fueled by the countless stories of how the gospel has changed lives and communities. Those are powerful and relatively easy stories to tell. Despite its depth, the Gospel itself can be communicated in a few sentences.
Other stories are more difficult to tell, like the stories of theological schools and their importance to the church. Part of the issue is that schools are a step or two separated from the dramatic stories of church history, but for the continued viability of theological education, it’s vital for schools to find fresh ways to frame the story not only of graduates – which is typically what’s told – but also the work of the schools themselves.
Earlier this year, I presented a storytelling framework for grantees of the Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. Hosted by the Association of Theological Schools, the webinar went over a way to use three sentences to tell your story. The first sentence describes the problem you’re addressing; the second is your solution; and the third is how you’ll apply your solution.
That framework is flexible – it can be used to develop a story to describe a grant, a program, or the school’s work. It takes time to develop the story, but, I’d argue, it’s vitally important because a well-told story can change the world.
To see the webinar, click here.