Do you like being told what to do?
Probably not right? We aren’t always open to different points of view.
However, we’ll often respond to the moral of a story.
For example, have you ever tried to persuade someone with a story about “someone you know”?
Evangelization is often about trying to do just that–convince someone to see things from a different point of view. To change their perspective from the worldly to the Godly.
How do you do that effectively without turning them off? Tell them a story.
Why stories work for evangelization
The key to persuasive storytelling is something called Transportation.
Stories sweep us up and take us along for a ride. We are transported into the world of the story.
Judgment is suspended there. It’s no longer about your listener, it’s about the person in the story.
They become free to notice (without you telling them) how the story resonates with their own experience. They realize that perhaps they do have a problem, and perhaps what you’re telling them is a good way to deal with it.
The message gets in “under the radar.” If your listener is resonating with the story and transported into it, the moral message can get in through the back door, so to speak.
Here’s an example. Think of how you feel after watching Rocky. You leave feeling like you could achieve anything if you work hard enough.
Movies like that work to change us even though the real world might not work that way.
How to tell engaging and persuasive stories
So how can you make your stores more engaging and persuasive?
- Imagery: Paint vivid pictures with your words. Have people imagine a scene. Give examples using concrete images they can see in their heads.
- Suspense: This is the oldest trick in the book. Don’t give everything away in the beginning. Hint at what’s to come. Or, start your story with a snippet from the middle, then backtrack to the beginning. Suspense keeps listeners engaged because they want to find out what happens in the end.
- Emotion: This is very important in stories. If you’re telling a personal story, include how things made you feel or what feelings were going on inside you at the time. People will be caught up in the emotions and feel it themselves.
- Modeling: People in your story have to model the behavior you’re trying to get your students to adopt. The character in your story must to go through the transformation you want your listener to go through.
- Have a point and desired outcome from the beginning: You don’t tell a story to kill time. You want your listeners to do something after hearing your story. You want them to believe something new, adopt a behavior, accept some teaching, or be moved emotionally to gain a new perspective. Tell the story with that in mind and you’ll be able to shape it toward your desired effect.
Stories are a powerful tool for evangelization.
They can help you get a foot in the door with people that aren’t open to change. The effect of Transportation may allow your message to be heard and taken to heart more readily than simply teaching about the facts of the Faith.
Next time you’ve got a tough issue you want someone to understand, try telling an engaging story with characters (maybe yourself) that model a transformation into accepting that issue.
You’ll have more success and less headache, I guarantee.
Image courtesy of nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net