Building authentic community is essential to the life of the church. With busy schedules and segmented groups, it can be hard for church members to feel connected to each other.
Sharing stories of what God is doing in the lives of your church members may just be the most powerful tool you have to connect people together. We’ve gathered some easy tools and exceptional samples to help you get started.
STEP BY STEP
1. Define your goal
What type of stories would be most impactful for your church? Stories of God’s faithfulness over time, stories of those who stepped out in faith and were overwhelmingly blessed, stories of people who were baptized, completed a study or attended an event? Try to narrow it down to a theme or a purpose and then write it down. For instance, “we want people to see God’s faithfulness through the generations,” or “we want people to see the impact that summer camp has on the lives of our youth.”
2. Decide on the outlet
How are you going to share all these amazing stories with your congregation? Think about the avenues of communication you already use, and the benefits of each (and don’t be afraid to use more than one!).
- A newsletter or blog post
- Social media (a great avenue to reach people outside the church)
- Live testimonies on stage during a service or special event
- Feature on the homepage of your website (a great way to connect with visitors)
3. Ask for submissions
Start with a “control group.” Make a list of people in your church who have great stories of faith to share (a miraculous healing, relationship mended, accomplishment after struggle, etc.), and who can articulate their stories well. Reach out to them, and ask if they would be willing to submit their story in writing, share on stage, or be part of a video. Be sure to share the overall purpose and goal (ie. we’re doing this to build community, or help people understand the importance of missions) and ask for permission to use their name and photo with their story. Once you’ve tested everything out with your control group, ask for submissions from the whole church.
4. Share share share
Share consistently by releasing one story per week or month to keep the momentum going. Share a story in connection with an upcoming event (ie. a story of baptism before your big Easter baptism event). Make stories available multiple ways, so everyone who wants to hear has the opportunity to do so.
WHO THIS WILL REACH
Give visitors a taste of your community, and the opportunity to see authenticity before even walking in the doors. By posting stories on your website or social media, you’re welcoming people into your community in a whole new way.
Refresh and encourage the veterans in your church (those who have been a part of your congregation for what seems like forever). They will appreciate being reminded of God’s work, and getting to know other people in the community on a deeper level/
Give your pastors and staff a better feel for what’s happening within your church.
Sharing isn’t always easy. Giving sharers the opportunity to step out in faith and share their story can be an incredible opportunity for growth. Follow up with them and stay connected so they know how much they are appreciated.
When you share stories of volunteers stepping out in faith (a shy person becoming a greeter, an empty-nester working in the nursery, etc.) you can inspire others to step out in faith and volunteer as well. For more ideas on using stories to recruit and inspire volunteers, check out this awesome article from Church Leader Strategies.
CHURCHES WHO ARE DOING THIS WELL
Saddleback Church – Stories featured on the homepage make this big church feel small, connected and authentic
The Village Church – They use stories to empower a team of creatives to volunteer in photography, videography, writing, etc.
Crosspoint Church – Stories connect multiple campuses together
How can stories make an impact in your church?