Start with Story: 3 Ways to Tell Christmas Stories

Our friends over at Long Hollow Baptist Church here in Nashville, TN always use creativity in some of the coolest ways! From a custom written live Easter play to the visual creation event they did a few years ago, they’re always using creativity, visuals and most importantly story to engage their community.

Their creative director, Jason Dyba, is a great friend of mine and I’m always trying to tap into his amazing thoughts on story. When we were planning this whole Transform Christmas movement and talking about how we can help as many organizations as possible transform Christmas in some way or another, I immediately reached out to Jason to see if he could help write on the concept of “Story”. You see, everyone is going to tell a story this Christmas in some shape or form… some will plan for it and others will stumble into it. Regardless, you’re going to tell a story.

Every great transforming event starts with the story. You have to know the “why” before the what… and the what dictates the how. I hope I haven’t lost you yet. No matter what you’re trying to do, you’re going to have a story. We’ve talked about a few ways to tell a story here on the blog and there will be many more to come, but we Jason shares a few ways to tell a story that is not necessarily using projection or media. (Of course all of these ideas could be supported with visuals, they’re not the primary use).

Before Jason’s guest post on “3 Ways to Tell Christmas Stories” we wanted to let you into their recent Christmas Promotional Video they shot with their worship team:

 

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3 Ways to Tell Christmas Stories

Perhaps you’re tired of the typical Christmas musical, be it with just narration & song or with full-blown costumed characters. If you’re looking for new ways to present Christmas themes and stories, there are several other mediums worth exploring. Here are three examples:

1. RHYME
Despite that “Twas The Night Before Christmas” is one of the key sculptors of the modern Christmas season, very few people have used non-musical rhyme to tell stories at Christmas (Dr. Seuss being the famous exception). I’ve often wondered why not; rhyme is an incredible tool for engaging your audience and invoking a sense of wonder.

Rather than having narration or dramas between musical selections, try reading short stories in rhyme: an angel’s perspective of the manger scene, a Starbucks employee’s thoughts on holiday shoppers, a poem about wrapping presents that inspires the listener to remember Jesus this season. It can be simple – it can be fanciful – it can be surprising. Rhyme is a medium that is meant to take you along on a journey, if even for only 4-5 minutes.

For a bit of rhyme inspiration, check out this modern poem by David Rakoff.

2. PARODY
It’s not uncommon for certain churchgoers to get upset when Christmas rolls around and you, the worship pastor, pick out songs like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Silver Bells”. They ask, “where is Jesus in these songs?” And certainly, they have a point – but it’s a mistake for us to think that secular Christmas songs are completely useless in our Christmas services. Quite the opposite, their familiar tunes and nostalgic qualities lend us a powerful storytelling option, especially in regards to parody.

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Is the pastor preaching on consumerism?
Re-write “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” as a parody about retailers tactics and holiday sales.

Is this week’s sermon on rest?
Re-write “White Christmas” from the perspective of a busy mom wishing for a “Quiet Christmas”.

Simple twists like these are funny, unexpected, and give you creative means to incorporate some of those not-so-churchy Christmas songs.

3. RADIO PLAY
For decades, radio broadcasters have had to figure out numerous ways to tell stories in order to keep their listeners tuned in. Storytelling with all live sound FX, fake commercial ads and Public Service Announcements, phone call conversations, narration with custom underscore, mixed journalism & storytelling (i.e. This American Life), etc. For storytellers, radio is a jackpot!

One of my favorite creative departments is the one at Church on the Move, who used one of these techniques a couple years ago, Link. (This particular resource is free to download/use!). This is an especially good option if you want to avoid all the blocking, staging, costuming, and other demands of stage theater.

Again, these are just three of many options for different ways to communicate a story this Christmas. What other mediums have you seen or explored?

Follow Jason Dyba on twitter or check out his blog at Longhollow.com. Don’t miss tomorrow!

 

Luke McElroy

Author Luke McElroy

Luke McElroy is the founder of Orange Thread Media, the parent company to TripleWide Media, SALT Conferences and Orange Thread LIVE. He is the author of The Wide Guide: Blueprint for the Multiscreen Movement. Hailed as one of the “top innovators for worship” by Worship Leader Magazine in 2013, Luke’s leadership has helped create powerful worship environments for thousands of Church communities throughout the entire world. He currently lives in Nashville, TN and regularly writes about creativity, leadership and faith at LukeMcElroy.com 

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