How to Find Stories to Tell at Your Church

How to Find Stories to Tell at Your Church

August 10, 2016 by

When it comes to finding stories to tell at your church, you have two methods: active and passive.

Think of them as nets working in tandem. A passive tactic trails the boat, dredging the bottom and snagging stories, as well as some flotsam, a dragoon and a lost boot or two.

If you’re going to be a fisher of stories, you have to have empathy for the fish.

The active tactic is more labor-intensive. You—and any crewmembers—cast the net at specific targets and haul them in. The process takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. You always get a good story out of it, not to mention a good friend.

The more time you spend pulling a person and their story in, the more you get to know them. And the more you get to know them, the more you come to care for them. It’s a good thing. An essential thing, really.

If you’re going to be a fisher of stories, you have to have empathy for the fish.

Passive Fishing

To passively fish for stories, create a “net,” a landing page, on your church’s website. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a simple page titled “Story Submissions” or “Share Your Story” can be sufficient.

What will need some work is the submission form.

Forms are a tricky business. They have to capture the information you need without overburdening or frustrating the person viewing it. As such, keep the fields to a minimum.

Fields to Include

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Story

The “story” field can be left carte blanche, or you can guide people through a couple of questions. The latter option usually works best.

People often freeze when asked to share their stories. They forget the great thought they had or convince themselves they don’t really have a story worth sharing. Feed them some bait to get the initial anecdotes.


  • How has God helped you through a rough time this past year? What roles did the Bible, prayer, church and/or community play?
  • How has God moved in your small group? What role does community play in your walk with Jesus?
  • How has reading the Bible impacted your faith?
  • What wondrous thing has God done in your life this past year? A baptism, wedding, getting involved with serving at church, an adoption, choosing to go on the mission field, planting a church, starting a small group, deciding to give more to the local church?
  • How have you grown as a person and in your faith?

Unless you want to spend your entire day reading novellas, put a character limit on the story field. It’ll help control the process, keep people mindful of the story they want to tell and ensure a better user experience on web and mobile.

Tips and Tricks

Make the form easy to find and do some initial promotion. Ask people to share their stories during weekly church announcements and in email newsletters. Passive fishing works well but only if some fish are in the sea.

Active Fishing

If you want to find stories to share at church, become a fisherman.

Active fishing seems daunting. But you can make it manageable, even if you don’t have a dedicated storytelling team. (An excellent idea, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Practice Observation

Observation is a prized tool of the writing trade. Be present in conversations. Ask open-ended questions and listen—really listen—to people’s answers. You’ll hear amazing God stories.

Find helpers

These people don’t have to be writers, editors, photographers, videographers, etc. They should be people who have a pulse on the church, i.e., pastors, elders, deacons, kids and students volunteers, welcome team members and small group leaders.

Think of them as story spotters. They see what God’s doing in the church and can ask the people they counsel and serve if they’d be willing to share their story. If they are, you’re set. Your have fish ready to be brought in.

Cast the Right Nets

If you want to find stories to share at church, become a fisherman. Throw out passive and active nets. Observe your sea to spot likely targets. And, ask for help. You’re going to need it.

If you’ve cast the nets right, you’re going to have more fish than you ever could have hoped for.


Post By:

Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is a resident with The Austin Stone Institute at The Austin Stone Community Church. Her role as a resident is varied but includes writing, editing, illustration and design, and event planning. In the next few months, Erin will grow toward more vocal leadership roles, such as teaching and coaching writers, and will begin to work on her first novel. She volunteered with Creative Missions in 2016 and 2017 and serves as an assistant editor for Church Marketing Sucks.
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