Youth Ministry Storytelling

Did you see “The Dark Knight Rises” yet?  If you haven’t yet, you should.  Even if you aren’t a “super-hero” fan, you should go and see it. Why?  Because the storytelling is excellent.  Seriously, Christopher Nolan is a genius and took a broken franchise (remember Batman & Robin?) and made 3 epic movies!  And the way he tied them all together from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight Rises was phenomenal.

So this made me think of storytelling (or giving the message) in youth ministry circles.  What makes up a good storyteller in youth ministry.  Here are 3 qualities that stuck out to me.

  1. Engaging Presentations.  Whether it is in his Batman trilogy or even movies like Inception, Christopher Nolan has a knack for gripping you from the very beginning of the movie and walking you through the adventure of the story.  Do we grab students from the beginning of our messages and walk them through the adventure
  2. Understanding the Context. Are we telling the story in the context of which it was written?  Or, are we just telling a story?  Context is important because it gives the background of what was happening in the world that was around them.  Christopher Nolan did a great job of this when he made Batman Begins.  He could have just opened up with Batman being Batman.  But he didn’t.  He told the background, gave the context in which Bruce Wayne became Batman.  This is especially important when you are sharing stories of the Bible because, for example, Jesus didn’t just heal a leopard.  He did more than just heal a sick person. Lepards were UNTOUCHABLE, AVOIDABLE, OUTCASTED BY SOCIETY.  Yet Jesus didn’t care and went right up to and healed him.  Jesus was a ground-breaker, a rule-breaker, a society uniter.  And that comes out when we share the context of the story, not just the story itself.
  3. Be Yourself. Are we being ourselves or trying to be someone else?  Christopher Nolan could have tried to be Michael Bay and blown up so many building and had this pyrotechnic blast or that pyrotechnic blast.  But he didn’t.  He was Christopher Nolan.  In the same way, we are our own selves and I hope you have your own style of storytelling.  Because your style makes you, you!  You don’t have to be the “funny guy” or the “smart guy”.  Let them be them.  Be yourself and use the gifts God has given you to tell the story, don’t try to be someone else.

So, as the fall is getting ready to start up and we get back into our school programing, storytelling is going to be a key component of our ministry.  These are just 3 reminders in which we can improve on our storytelling skills.  TAKE A MINUTE right now and think through your storytelling preparation.  What do you think are important components that make up effective storytelling and how are you going to improve on your storytelling ability this year?

Share your thoughts, comments or experiences below.  We can all learn from each other.

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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