"God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts."
- A Psalm Of David
Americans spent over $10B at movie theaters last year. We are pretty aware of the fact that there is a diversion offered there that cannot be replicated anywhere else. With 2 hours and about 10 dollars, we can escape the mundane and get lost in adventure, intrigue, and romance. We can forget that the story we are living is likely much smaller and less interesting than the ones we are experiencing on the screen.
We’ve talked extensively in this blog about how all stories are evocative of the one great larger story of the gospel. Just having that awareness dramatically changes the way you approach almost every story. But at a StoryBrand conference in Nashville, I learned there was far more going on than I realized.
Turns out that our brains are wired to seek simplicity out of all the complexity around us. We are constantly sifting through the information, sights, sounds, and confusion around us, trying to process everything in order to make sense of things. Our brains don’t like to work too hard to figure things out. When there isn’t clarity or we can’t distill what we are experiencing down to manageable ideas or understandings, we move on.
Current website marketing theory even tells us that if a viewer of a website can’t tell you…
- What they are offering.
- How it can address your needs.
- What they want you to do next.
…after 5 seconds of viewing the home page of your website, you’ll lose most of us. We are trying to process so much information being thrown at us that we often don’t purchase the best product/service, but the one that our brains can most quickly and easily understand.
The speaker at the conference that I attended said that music is simply “noise submitted to rules” and that captivating stories are simply “information submitted to rules.” What we find at the movies is the distillation of 2,000 years of learning about how to tell great stories. In two hours,
- We meet a character
- Who has a problem
- Who needs a guide
- With a plan
- Who experiences a call to action (an inciting event)
- That results in success
- Or results in failure
Let’s apply this to our story:
We are separated from our Father and the glory of eternity by the human condition of sin. The Father sent a guide with a simple plan that will result in amazing success if we accept, or treacherous failure if we don’t. It is really that simple. We have made the simple, powerful, and clarifying story of the gospel far too complicated. The author of confusion may be accomplishing his greatest misdirection in calling us to complication.
It is interesting that when the Pharisees tried to overcomplicate and trick Jesus with the law, He simplified it down to two things:
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS.
In the ministry of Young Life, they are well aware of how much we have complicated things. At camp, they tell the gospel in a simple clear progression over several nights:
My favorite camp story is of a young man from the high school where we volunteered. He had attended church his whole life, but as the nights and the story progressed at camp, his increasingly emphatic response was…
"HOW COME NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THIS!?"
He had likely heard the gospel hundreds of times, but hadn’t ever processed it in a way that made sense and was easily understood.
He didn’t know what they were offering.
He didn’t understand how it addressed his needs.
He wasn’t clear about what he was supposed to do next.
So, he moved on to something else.
No wonder so many on the planet are choosing a path other than the one that offers real life. The home pages of our lives are telling so many stories other than the One Great Story, that most people close it and move on to something more easily understood. The Psalms make it clear that one of our responsibilities is to tell stories of His greatness.
Turns out there is a lot riding on our ability to tell simple, powerful, and clear stories.
- Is what you are offering with your business clear and easily understood by others?
- Are the vision and strategic plan you are leading your company with clear and easily understood by your team members?
- What story is your life telling? Is it easy for others to understand?