After many years of observing other communicators, breaking down their messages and the practice of public speaking myself, I have come to understand (while still learning of course) what kind of general structure or flow makes for a effective sermon or teaching. However, the thing that would always challenge me was the breakdown of a single component: the story.
Call them stories, illustrations, examples, whatever you want. But these play a critical role in helping people identify and remember a point of truth that you are making – after all, everyone loves a good story. But what makes for a good story? You might hear people say, “Well some people are just good storytellers, they just have it.” This may be true and satisfactory a hearer, but in the interest of our own training, influence and communication I would raise the questions:
- If you don’t have it, where do you find it?
- If you do have it, how can you better leverage it?
By breaking down the phenomena of storytelling, I will respond to these questions in a series of posts to help you (and I) become better storytellers.
Part 1: The Use of Neg-Story
Incongruence. It’s a fancy term but a profound one.
Would you believe that incongruence is one of only three attributes that makes something funny? It’s why we laugh at characters like Donkey from Shrek, Andy Samberg playing an adult role in any movie, and the majority of Arrested Development or The Office (among a billion other things).
So while I had inevitably experienced incongruence across my lifetime, I was first introduced to the concept when I did a subject on comedy at university. A simple definition of incongruence with reference to space could be: “not fitting well with something else” or “those two things don’t make sense together”, but it can also be used with reference to time, such as when you take one position on something, and then moments later you take a contrary position.
While the use of incongruence will add flavour and attraction to any story, it is this second definition that I want to explore with the storytelling phenomenon the neg-story. Read More…
No video this time around. In Alice Springs the latest technology isn’t exactly the priority! Nevertheless, I hope that God can speak through what is one of my favourite sermons that continues to encourage me every time I share it. – G.
There are times in life when we find ourselves surrounded by pressure on all sides, and as anxiety emerges, just like the Israelites, in our desperation we often cry out. The temptation toward flight or fight is very real, and yet the three voices in the desert demonstrate a surprisingly different way of depending on God and trusting in his providence.
No video this time around. In Alice Springs the latest technology isn’t exactly the priority! – G.
We often don’t like to admit it, but prayer can be hard. This is especially true when there are barriers that are standing in the way of our relationship with God. The psalmist knows these barriers all too well, and isn’t afraid to declare it – yet when we look at how Jesus prayed, we can learn what it looks like to overcome these barriers and restore the connection.
It’s ok to be there, but God didn’t create you to stay there.
(Psalm 22 & Luke 5:15-16)
Most encounters we have with God are a source of delight and inspiration, but there is a type of encounter that can be very scary. These encounters are a response to those parts of our life that we would rather remain hidden, the known but denied. Nevertheless, the necessary encounter is the act of a loving God to confront us about those things that will, if left unaddressed, lead us toward destruction.
What is God writing on your wall?
Each of us carry a certain set of assumptions about how God might encounter us. These assumptions become a box that limit our ability to recognize who God may want to speak through or how he may do it. In order to break this box we need to learn to expect the unexpected. If God can “open the mouth of the ass” then he can surely use anyone and anything to get our attention.