The power of storytelling

(Photo cred: Sascha Kohlmann via Flickr)

(Photo credit Sascha Kohlmann via Flickr)

USA (MNN) — You probably don’t recall what you learned in high school algebra. But chances are, you remember in great detail the best story you’ve ever heard.

Ron Hutchcraft says storytelling is the driving force behind a new aspect of his namesake ministry to North America’s Native Americans.

“Over and over again, we are seeing the power of a story to help change a life, open a heart, and, ultimately, change an eternity.”

Storytelling and the brain

storytelling outdoors

Storytelling outdoors, Concord Library, 1970.
(Photo credit Local Studies NSW via Flickr)

Researchers have found that because storytelling engages the entire brain, not just one or two parts, it’s highly-effective for learning and communicating. As author Jeremy Hsu observes in his 2008 book, The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn, “Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.”

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries (RHM) sees the powerful effects of storytelling on a regular basis. It’s helping their radio ministry “A Word With You” engage English-speaking–as well as Mandarin- and soon Spanish-speaking–audiences with the Gospel.

In the United States, RHM hopes storytelling will help them introduce another audience to Christ. But, in this case, the Web is the vehicle.

“We can’t get a team to 1,000 reservations and reserves in North America,” Hutchcraft notes. Then he asks, hypothetically, “What if we were to dramatize some of those [Hope Stories] and bring them right into the room of a Native young person?”

Storytelling and outreach

Members of RHM’s On Eagles’ Wings team are doing just that. Their testimonies of life before and after Christ are being dramatized in short videos.

Watch some of them here.

“We’re hoping that it will help ‘viralize’ the Good News of Jesus. Pornography’s getting ‘viralized;’ a lot of ugly stuff is getting ‘viralized.’ We need the Good News of Jesus, which the Christmas season is all about: ‘I bring you good news of great joy!'”

(Screenshot taken from http://www.oneagleswings.com/videos/)

(Screenshot taken from OnEaglesWings.com)

The video project has only just begun, but it’s already seeing great results.

“The average number of minutes that young people will stay on that site far transcends the average amount of time people spend at [other] Web sites,” shares Hutchcraft.

“They are fully engaged; they will not leave that Hope Story, and then, they move on to the Gospel as that [team member] shares how Christ has changed his/her life.”

This isn’t just an encouraging report about how the Gospel is advancing among Native Americans. Recognizing the power of storytelling has practical implications for your life.

“The fact is that we all have a story,” says Hutchcraft. “And, this isn’t just about world missions.

“This is about ‘home’ missions; I’m talking about your home. I’m talking about the folks in your personal world.”

This Christmas, you’ll probably have a lot of opportunities to speak with loved ones you only see once or twice a year. Why not strike up a conversation, Hutchcraft asks.

“A lot of times they’re not ready to hear about your beliefs, but they’ll listen to your ‘Hope Story,'” he explains.

How would you start a conversation about eternity? Please share in the Comments section below!