Browse
Making the Audience the Hero of Your Story

Making the Audience the Hero of Your Story

Posted February 1, 2018 by Robert Carnes

A Heroic Story

Once upon a time there lived a normal guy in a normal town. Then one day, things weren’t so normal anymore. There was an evil villain that threatened the town. Or maybe it was a natural disaster. Or an army of robots.

Whatever happened, it was clear that the normal guy had to do something to save his way of life.

Before he could start his epic adventure, the normal guy met a wise, old mentor. He was probably a wizard. Or quite possibly a short, green alien. The important thing is the mentor helped train the normal guy into a real hero.

Thus prepared, the hero stepped confidently into the adventure. He faced many trials, braved many dangers and made a few friends along the way for the purposes of comic relief.

Right before he could face the evil villain, the hero suffered a setback. He got lost, or wounded, or maybe both. As luck would have it, that setback was just the thing the hero needed to find the courage he was looking for all along. He bounced back and faced his foe in one final, climactic scene.

Victorious, the hero eventually returns to the once-normal town to find himself a changed man. The trials and challenges he endured along the way transformed him into something greater than he ever could have been before. The end.
 

The Hero’s Journey

Does that story sound slightly familiar? Even though it’s completely made up and ridiculous, it probably has traces of other stories you’ve heard. That’s not a coincidence. That’s because it follows a pattern called “The Hero’s Journey.”

American mythologist Joseph Campbell first coined this term back in 1949 in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell recognized that most mythological stories shared many characteristics. He boiled these similarities down to a few basic ideas that comprise this heroic framework.

The Hero’s Journey hinges on a seemingly normal hero being thrust into a series of conflicts and being guided by a wise mentor. The hero almost always triumphs and returns transformed by the experience. It all adds up to a story we can all understand and relate to.
 

Make Your Audience The Hero

This matters to the church because The Hero’s Journey teaches us how to tell better stories. Often when storytelling, churches tend to place themselves in the role of the hero. It’s always easier to see the story from your own perspective.

However, if we want our audience to relate to the stories we tell, we should make them the hero instead. Do this by focusing on someone similar to the audience you want to speak to. This could be a long-time church member, a volunteer or a potential new guest.

Tell the story from their point of view. What conflicts arise in their lives? What tensions do they have to face? What normal town do they have to leave in order to address these challenges? When someone sees themselves in the shoes of the story’s hero, they immediately connect.
 

Set Your Church As The Mentor

So where does this leave the church? If we are no longer the hero of the story, who are we? The church is better suited of playing the role of the hero’s mentor. We are the ones helping to show our audience the right next steps toward vanquishing their challenges.

By making this subtle but important shift, church leaders can connect with an audience while demonstrating the value of the church. And I don’t have to tell you that the resolution the mentor should be pointing all heroes to is Christ.

In the stories you tell, show how your church or a specific ministry guided an everyday hero toward the end of their journey. This places the church into the context of the trusted advisor.
 

Practical Examples of Using The Hero’s Journey

Here are some examples of stories you can tell of heroes within your church. There are endless stories that you can tell within your church, but these are a few places to start.

  • Testimonials from those who recently dedicated their lives to Christ
  • Volunteers who have helped themselves by helping others
  • Families who were impacted because of the church’s local missions
  • Kids whose lives were changed in the children’s ministry
  • Tithers who transformed their finances by giving first to God
  • Small group leaders who found their true leadership potential

Any church with people is a church full of stories. Everyone within your community has a story to tell. And they should be the hero of their own story. Your church can be a mentor within each tale—a helpful guide that leads people to the appropriate resolution.
 

The Original Storyteller

I care so deeply about storytelling and helping churches tell their stories better. That’s why I wrote a book called The Original Storyteller. It’s a 30-day storytelling guide for church leaders.

Each day features a storytelling principle, an example of a story using that principle, ties that story back to Scripture, then gives the reader an action step on how to put what they learned to use.

The Hero’s Journey is just one of these 30 principles. There are so many more elements of storytelling to explore and unpack. Join me in telling better stories within the church.

 

What stories are you telling at your church? How can you become a mentor in the stories of your church’s heroes?

Filed under: Communications, Leadership

About the Author

Robert Carnes

Robert Carnes is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days and works as a managing editor at the Orange Group in Atlanta.

Don't miss a post

Join our email list

Comments (0)

Leave a Comment

Share your thoughts about this blog post with us.
All fields are required.

Recent Posts

How to Have Better Announcements by Sunday
How to Have Better Announcements by Sunday
0

Posted August 14, 2018 by Joel Schaap

It is possible to pull off great announcements this weekend, and a great way to start is by avoiding these five common potholes.
Before You Ditch The Paper Bulletin Consider This
Before You Ditch The Paper Bulletin Consider This
9

Posted August 9, 2018 by Jeanette Yates

Paper bulletins serve a purpose and can actually help your digital strategy.
Church Bulletins are Awful
Church Bulletins are Awful
10

Posted August 7, 2018 by Ernesto Alaniz

Church bulletins are a drain on resources, an ineffective way to communicate, and a obstacle to gospel mission.
Is the Church Bulletin a Sacred Cow?
Is the Church Bulletin a Sacred Cow?
4

Posted August 2, 2018 by Bryan Haley

What role does your church bulletin play in the church’s overall communication strategy? Do we have the bulletin because that’s how it’s always been, or can it be an effective communication tool?
3 Things to Do Each Week In Your Communications
3 Things to Do Each Week In Your Communications
1

Posted July 24, 2018 by Carrie Evans

Here are three basic elements that church communicators should include every week in their communication plan.
Marketing Is Not a Bad Word
Marketing Is Not a Bad Word
2

Posted July 19, 2018 by Chris Hunt

Words like marketing sometimes turnoff pastors, elders, and board members. Isn’t marketing a business term? What does marketing have to do with church? Marketing is not a bad word. Marketing is about making a straight path so that your ministry happens.
I Notcied a Typo inn the Bullitin: Let’s Talk About Making Mistakes
I Notcied a Typo inn the Bullitin: Let’s Talk About Making Mistakes
6

Posted July 10, 2018 by Dave Hartwell

As church communicators, our work is out in the open: we write web copy, bulletin announcements, social media posts, and mass emails. Every once in a while, we make a mistake. Mistakes are inevitable; how we deal with them isn't.
Juicy Website Winner 2018: Hope Church NYC
Juicy Website Winner 2018: Hope Church NYC
0

Posted July 4, 2018 by Bryan Haley

Hope Church in New York City is The Juicys’ 2018 winner for the website category. Here’s what makes Hope’s website great.
The Power of Facebook Events
The Power of Facebook Events
0

Posted June 25, 2018 by Ernesto Alaniz

Facebook events are a cheap and easy way to get your church’s event in front of your entire community.
6 Social Media Tips for Your Church
6 Social Media Tips for Your Church
0

Posted June 21, 2018 by Bryan Haley

Social media is a great tool that churches can use to build and expand relationships, as well as a tool for outreach. Here are six tips to help your church utilize social media better.