What's in this session?

  • There is one style of communication you can use to capture the attention of people: storytelling
  • How does storytelling capture someone’s attention?
  • Jesus used storytelling to teach nearly 35% of the time
  • When someone tells you a story, as you begin to imagine that story in your head, your brain processes the story in the same way as it happened
  • Telling a story will capture attention and lead people to action

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

When it comes to capturing someone’s attention, one style of communication stands above the rest. And so, in this video, I’m gonna break down why storytelling is the most powerful form of human communication. Well hey there, I’m Brady Shearer from prochurchtools.com helping you seize the 167 hours beyond your Sunday service. We publish new videos every single week so make sure you hit the subscribe button below. And if you like this video, please give this video a thumbs up as well. You know, not too long ago, I was sitting in a church service, listening to a sermon with some of my family and we were sitting near the back of the auditorium, you know, second to last row. The pastor had been preaching for about 15 minutes and sitting to my left was my brother-in-law and as the pastor was preaching, I saw my brother-in-law sitting next to me, checking up on Facebook, head down, scrolling through his Facebook feed, checking in with what was new, what’s exciting. And as the pastor continued to preach, he transitioned a bit in his sermon and he began telling a story. He said, “You know, I once knew this girl name Michelle.” And in that moment, almost like magic, my brother-in-law immediately stopped looking at his phone, tilted his head up and began listening intently to the story that the pastor was sharing. And when I saw this, I gently chuckled to myself. I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “Do you see what just happened? “You’re brain just prioritized another human telling a story “over your own Facebook feed.” And this is what makes storytelling the most powerful form of human communication. It is the only form of communication that we have that forces our brains to focus. And it happens subconsciously on an inner most level that you and I cannot control. Jesus knew something about the way our brains operate long before we did. There’s this great book by Robert Stein called The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings. And his book, Stein takes inventory of all of Jesus’ teachings throughout the Synoptic Gospels. That’s the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in the New Testament. And Stein finds that no less than 35% of the time that Jesus is teaching, he’s using story to do it. More than one third of all of Jesus’ teachings executed through storytelling. Christ comes to Earth, proclaims the kingdom of God to anyone and everyone who’s gonna listen and he does so using story as the primary device of communication. So what is it about storytelling that makes it so powerful? Well, a bit part of it comes down to the way that our brains render character-driven narratives. To quote psychologist Pamela Rutledge, “To the human brain, imagined experiences are processed “the same as real experiences.” So when someone’s telling you a story, as you begin to imagine that story in your head as you hear it, your brain is processing that in the same way as if it actually happened. And perhaps this is no clearer than when we go see a movie at the theater. Even when it’s a fictional film, sure we may know cognitively that the events happening on the screen to the characters, you know, that’s not real but our brains are rendering the story a bit differently. For instance, I have a certain tell when I’m watching a movie that shows that I am very very much engaged with what I’m seeing on the screen. I’ll take the thumb on my left hand and I’ll clench it down with my top front teeth. And that’s an actual, physical manifestation of my attention and focus on a story. Even if it’s entirely fictional, my brain is rendering it in such a real and tangible way that my body is responding in a physical way. So if you ever sit next to me in a movie theater, watch out for that. In a culture as fast-paced and attention deficit as ours is, understanding how to capture someone’s focus and attention is an invaluable skill. Storytelling is applicable if you’re speaking from stage, posting on social media, creating videos. Anytime communication is happening, storytelling is valuable. It’s the only type of communication that forces our brains to focus. And whether it’s carvings on cave walls or podcasts in the 21st century, storytelling always wins. If you like this video, make sure you hit the like button below and it’d be an honor if you subscribed to the Pro Church Tools channel, we post new videos like this every single week, helping your church seize the 167 hours beyond your Sunday service. If you’ve got questions or comments, leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for watching this video and I’ll see you in another one.

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