Using the method of StoryBrand for churches can help you carry the Gospel to more people. But how can your church actually use a framework that was made for business?
About Our Guest: Jared Wellman
Jared joined the Tate Springs family in 2017. He married his wife Amanda in 2006 and they have two girls together.
Jared’s earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from the Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. He also holds a Ph.D. from South African Theological Seminary. Jared has authored several books, which you can find on his blog, AnswersonHeaven.com.
Why Use StoryBrand For Churches?
StoryBrand is a framework developed by Donald Miller. With it, organizations clarify their message and tell a compelling story.
God made people a certain way, and sometimes we can get ultra-spiritual to where become lazy in our church communications…
Some people ask, “Why should we market at all? If we pray enough, God will send the people.”
While that is true… it is a poor excuse to skip doing ministry in new and innovative ways. This includes how we communicate and carry out marketing efforts.
There’s got to be a blend.
Jesus himself said that he’s given us a great truth and we should not cover our light, but put it on a stand for everyone to see.
What Is StoryBrand?
Donald Miller created StoryBrand after working with a crew to create a movie out of his first book, Blue Like Jazz.
In the process, Don learned that there is a rhythm to telling stories.
Much like there are many chords a guitar can play, there are 7 key-elements to a story. And like you can mix and match those chords to make different tunes, you can use the 7 key-elements to tell a story.
So Donald went on to create StoryBrand to help companies use story to sell their products.
You can sum up the 7 StoryBrand elements like this:
There is a character (Luke Skywalker)
Who has a problem (Wants to be a Jedi)
Who meets a guide (Yoda)
That gives them a plan (Force Mastery)
The character receives a call to action (Friends are in danger)
The character meets failure (The Rebellion is defeated)
or has success (The Empire Falls)
The temptation is for the business to place itself on a pedestal as the hero of a story. But in reality, the customer is the hero.
The customer is Luke Skywalker, and the business is the Yoda.
Jared actually met StoryBrand’s creator in person at a workshop. And he got to ask Donald, “Will this work for churches?”
And straight from the horse’s mouth, yes. Yes, it will. So let’s see how StoryBrand can work for churches to attract and keep visitors.
The Science Behind StoryBrand
God wired our brains to survive and thrive.
To survive, we are seeking the things we need and how to get them. Food, clothing, housing, community… Our brains are always scanning for ways to get these necessities of life.
Our brains see complicated messaging as confusing and needless. This results in dropping our attention to something else.
Imagine if Jason Bourne told the story of a mysterious man who needs to rediscover his past. But along the way, he also tried to lose 10 pounds and learn how to knit…that’s too much junk!
Critics call movies “bad” when they fall into the same trap of a confusing story.
So to keep someone’s attention on your church, you need to make your message simple. Show how your Jesus can improve lives. And how can your church help them survive and thrive?
How Can The Church Use StoryBrand?
So far StoryBrand sounds like a great business tool…but what about for churches? You’re not a get-out-of-hell-free card. You’re about making disciples, right?
But have you noticed that more people pay attention when your pastor tells a story?
Or when someone comes to you after the service to repeat their favorite part…it’s almost always a story?
Storytelling has power. And StoryBrand helps your church tell the greatest story.
When it comes down to the guide of the story…we need to present Jesus as the guide, not the hero.
In stories, the hero is never the one who has it all figured out. They are unfit, thrown into the story, and trying to solve a problem. But the guide has it all figured out, has been there, and knows the plan.
Which sounds more like Jesus? The reluctant hero who fumbles around or the wise guide who has the plan?
NOW it’s starting to fit into the church culture…
Implementing StoryBrand For Church Websites
Now let’s look at some application.
Most churches advertise Sunday services or the Pastor as the first thing on the church website. Instead, Tate Springs promotes the Spiritual Gifts Workshop.
Most people will look at your church’s website before visiting the church. Tate Springs doesn’t want to compete with trying to be the hero…the visitor is the hero. So the website gets “out of the way” and focus on guiding the web visitor to the Spiritual Gifts Workshop.
Why A Spiritual Gifts Workshop?
Pastor Jared wants the website to focus on an internal problem many Christians face. That problem is the feeling that they’re not making a difference.
Tate Springs wants people to do more than only come to church. They want people to plug in. And the best springboard for that goal is to bring visitors to the Spiritual Gifts Workshop.
Web visitors are like a squirrel looking for a nut. And Jared knows exactly what kind of treat he wants to the visitor to find and puts it right up front.
And if people do want to find out about the pastor, core values, or specific ministries…they will search that out.
Pastor Jared wants the members of Tate Springs to do more than come on Sundays. The process of bringing people into the Spiritual Gifts Workshop accomplishes their mission.
StoryBrand’s Results For The Church
Sunday attendance is up 100-200 people after using the StoryBrand model for 6 months.
Past trends estimated that only 40 people were going to attend a Wednesday Night Bible Study. But using StoryBrand to communicate the event brought in 200 people the first night. And they’ve maintained over 100 every week!
And their biggest win is the Spiritual Gifts Workshop. The attendance to the workshop went from a few people to filling the room. AND they’re reaching young people looking for a new experience which is exactly who Jared wants to reach.
Tate Springs is not just full of people. They are growing with people that are willing and ready to serve.
The StoryBrand Framework is the new way to promote your church and capture attention. And when you capture attention, you get more people to hear the Gospel.
The 7-part StoryBrand structure will give you a new way to communicate with your audience, spread the Gospel, and get more people to take action.
So check it out, give it a try, and let us know how it goes!
Have you read StoryBrand yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
[Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, we receive compensation if you purchase any of the books above]
This is a great summary of StoryBrand! The 7-part framework is a fascinating lens to view what we are communicating.
you totally missed the point. Jesus is not the guide. A relationship with Jesus is the result. The guide is the church (or the pastor as most pastors would put it, which is rather short sighted though).