In today’s westernized society, we are privileged to be exposed to an abundance of engaged, dynamic communicators. These storytellers exist on a spectrum within the sacred and secular worlds, from Max Lucado and Rick Warren to George Lucas and Walt Disney. Her stories come in many iterations, from spoken and written word to feature films, which are known and loved around the world.
Among church leaders, the art of sacred storytelling has traditionally been limited to the pulpit and the children’s classrooms. But today’s world is becoming more and more post-Christian; Putting stories alone in sacred silos is no longer an option. Instead, our churches must embody successful storytelling, from branding to construction and beyond.
We call this three-dimensional storytelling, a form of storytelling that transports and immerses guests into another world. The three dimensions are:
* Strategic storytellingin which we use Strategy to tell a story that reflects a community’s unique personality, DNA and journey.
* Spatial Storytellingin which the space is built to draw guests into a storytelling space through a range of disciplines including architecture, interior design, landscaping and more.
* Digital Storytellingwhere we use technologies such as websites, apps, virtual reality and augmented reality to add a digital element to the storytelling experience.
Film school taught me that the story is based on the plot (why), the character (who), and the setting (where). In order for a church to refine its unique story, the leadership team must reach consensus on what those story elements are for their church. Your mission field, your church, your origin story, and your vision for the future all play a role in your unique, three-dimensional story.
Who is the focus of your sacred story? Your unique character, relationships, identity and voice ultimately express value internally and within your community. As a collective, your church has spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional, and physical aspects that make up your unique DNA.
Here are some questions you can ask to begin identifying your story’s characters:
* Who are we as a church?
* What kind of people does our church consist of?
* Who are we try to reach?
* Who are our leaders?
* Where did we come on, where are we now and where are we walk?
* What unique effect do we have strive to have in our community, in the nation, and around the world?
* How are we bring others to Jesus?
Once you have answered these questions, you are one step closer to sharing your story beyond the pulpit and sharing Jesus in a broader way.
Where is your sacred story taking place? Output Time to reflect on the community you serve and its unique history. Consider your facility and how it may or may not currently play a role how to tell your story Why did you choose this particular place in all of God’s creation?
Many churches are housed in stamped buildings that function the same way regardless of where they are located. They provide a necessary gathering place for the community, but otherwise don’t necessarily contribute to the story in a unique way. Other structures can be planned and designed in the master to be a functional part of this story. Regardless, it’s important to fully understand your space and local environment as your environment.
Your action is the “why” behind your sacred story. Ultimately, the reason for your church’s history is to lead others to Christ. This action consists of the who, where and what. Defining your characters and setting naturally leads to the plot of your story.
Once you’ve established the storyline, setting, and characters, you can begin removing elements of your space that aren’t essential to moving your story forward. This can be as simple as removing unsightly flooring or using reclaimed materials in your building renovation.
The big idea
The heart of your character, setting, and storyline is your “bI g Idea‘, a powerful concept that can help your church make design and development decisions as you move toward telling your sacred story in a more powerful way. It lends itself to an inner consistency that over time will help you eliminate chaotic, conflicting elements from your physical environment.
A powerful example of this is the grand idea we developed for the multi-phase renovation of Saddleback Church, phase one of which opened in November September 2021. Their idea is “Church Without Walls”, a concept that Saddleback has consistently embodied both big and small. It came about as a result of church closures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Pastor Rick Warren and his leadership team worked to find new and innovative ways for their congregation to gather safely.
Before Saddleback had a permanent building, they were a church with over 20,000 members. They were already aggressively pursuing digital church and multisite strategies before COVID-19. And they’ve seen more baptisms since lockdown began in 2020 than at any time in their history.
Saddleback’s team chose to open up the side walls of their main building (originally large windows) and replace them with four aircraft hangar doors, transforming the auditorium into an indoor-outdoor venue. In addition, we have redesigned the original metal stadium seats and expanded them into terraced platform and theater seats along the rear. We redesigned the nlocation Patio to flow and connect inside-out and walkways have been converted into “welcome portals” to support attendees on their way from the parking lot to the welcome centers and an open lobby area.
This big medea blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor worship, creates a safer environment for members to gather, and demonstrates better care in creation in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate. The auditorium is just the first phase of a campus-wide renovation that will eventually move the majority of Saddleback’s outdoor worship and event capacity to a year-round sheltered, shaded space.
Ultimately, your bI g Idea will help lead people to Christ In any form whatsoever. Whether you are creating a thriving city center, a virtual reality Bible experience, or a jungle adventure for your children’s ministry, you will make an impact in the kingdom through the creativity given to us by the Creator.