Leveraging the Power of Story in your ministry


I like to think in the realm of numbers.  I am not sure if that is a guy thing or what? Stories are hard for me to wrap my brain around.  They take too long to unfold and often could have been stripped down to a few numbers to quickly get the point across.  But that’s the problem.  I am often in a hurry and struggle to slow down and enjoy the story.


The other night we were watching a family movie together.  The movie was about Togo and the amazing dog sledding crew that traveled several hundred strenuous miles through the beautiful Alaska terrain in a storm of the century.  Their little village was being devastated by illness and many of the children were dying without a cure.  The cure could not be flown in because of the weather. It was unsafe and deadly, with winds over 50 miles per hour, and snow falling rapidly.  Their only option to go and fetch the cure and bring it back quickly was this misfit dog, Togo, and his sled team.  


It was a captivating story and even went perfectly with our family devotions that night about going all out in something for God. (Thanks to Tim Tebow and Right Now Media.)  It was a story about perseverance, pushing yourself, and doing the impossible.  It was just long, 2 hours to be exact.  My 9-year-old son, Drew, echoed my thoughts when he asked a few times, “how much longer is this going to be?”  


Couldn’t we have just popped up some compelling statistics on TV to show our family that only 8% of people complete their new year’s resolutions? Boom. Done. Just like that, we know going all out is hard.  Did we need a two-hour story about the dog sled team in Alaska?  Did we have to know that Togo was this pain-in-the-neck dog that no one wanted? (spoiler alert) Did we have to see the Dog die? 

Numbers are easily forgotten, but the story lives on forever.


That 8% statistic I just shared….you had already forgotten it until I brought it up again.  If you have seen the Togo movie or know the story from history, you may never forget it. The story is almost 100 years old, it took place in 1925, and it is still alive and memorable.  

“numbers are easily forgotten but the story lives on forever.”

The next time you are tempted to share a bird’s eye perspective of numbers that you think gives the BIG picture about your mission…..STOP.  Ask yourself, what is one story that represents these numbers?  Then share that story.  They will remember the story and forget the numbers before they leave the service.  This could be a story about how giving has reached someone in your community, blessed a member, or empowered a mission overseas. Tell the story and leave the numbers for the spreadsheets.


 As another year rolls by on the calendar, I try to forget about the numbers and remember the stories I have experienced.  After all, I don’t have to try to forget the numbers; it happens quickly.  I am trying to slow down and enjoy the story.  Our lives are not composed of numbers, no matter our age.  

Our lives are stitched together with one story after another. 


The great thing about our life story is it is still being written.  We are the co-authors with God.  If you didn’t like the last chapter, pick up your pen and change the script.


Here’s to hoping for a happy ending to your story!


Your Brother in the Battle,


Ryan Flanders.