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The Power of a Story

Kristen Henriques

I have always considered myself to be a storyteller. My friends and family know that no detail is spared when I’m recalling a story, resulting in what could be a thirty-minute rendition of something that might take my husband five minutes to share. A quick glance at my childhood provides an abundance of evidence to support this claim in the form of short stories, novels, poems, and plays. Some of my parent’s earliest memories are of me giving them lines as we played with dolls or of the countless skits and plays I would act in and direct.

Storytelling from a historical viewpoint

Whereas some may have a greater gift of storytelling than others, storytelling has always been ingrained in us. For our ancestors, the ability to read and write was often a luxury. Instead, previous generations relied on oral stories to share impactful moments and historical events that were passed down from generation to generation.

This can be seen in the Haggadah, a Jewish text that provides a framework for the Passover celebration, or Seder. Each element of the Seder is a way of retelling the story of the exodus of Jews out of Egypt. In many cultures, tracing the family lineage is seen as essential and a way not only to pay homage to patriarchs and matriarchs but also to understand one’s ancestral story. We also see in the biblical book of Mark[1] how most of Jesus’s words spoken to the people were in parables–short stories meant to convey a deeper meaning.

In today’s digital world, storytelling takes on a new meaning. While stories today are still recounted from generation to generation orally, we’ve added new styles of storytelling. Movies, podcasts, and social media are just a few methods used today to share stories with one another. Storytelling has become so prominent in our culture that organizations utilize it within their marketing campaigns to engage with consumers and allow them to feel more connected with their brand or product.

The impact of storytelling

In a 2018 brief published by Harvard Business Publishing,[2] “A story does what facts and statistics never can: it inspires and motivates. Expert storytellers translate complex ideas into practical examples laced with strong emotional connections. The audience tunes in because they see themselves woven into the story. When a good story is being told, listeners are not only engaged, they’re also involved—both in head and heart.”

Simply said, a story communicates emotion and allows people to understand things in a new way. We each have our own story, and by connecting the head and heart through storytelling, we are able to better understand one another.

The directive for storytelling from a Christian perspective

Christians have the opportunity to share with others the greatest story ever told. A story of how God loved the world so much that He stepped into our broken world to offer us new life and hope beyond our days on this earth.[3]

Joshua D. Chatraw writes: “Telling smaller stories that reflect a larger worldview story can shake people out of their culture’s false narratives and help them see the beauty and goodness that leads to truth. By telling stories–both macro- and micro-stories, we can invite an unbeliever to drop their weapons, come in, and listen with an open mind and heart.”[4]

This quote embodies our desire here at Lighten. Whether through conversations, question and response, written word, or visual elements, we aim to share God’s story in a way that captures the heart, mind, imagination, and soul. We want to meet people in the midst of their own personal stories and help them experience rest, clarity, and joy in Jesus–the Light of the World.

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[1] Mark 4:34

[2]Vanessa Boris and Lani Peterson, Telling Stories: How Leaders Can Influence, Teach, and Inspire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Publishing, 2018), 1.

[3] John 3:16-17

[4] Joshua D. Chatraw, Telling a Better Story: how to talk about God in a skeptical age (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2020), 49.