Story Time!

Carol Brown is away on holiday. She will be back blogging the first week of September. See you then! May your holidays also be refreshing and joy filled!  Blessings, Carol


“Tell me a story! Pleeeease!”

How many times have you heard that from your little ones? We really never outgrow our love of story and brain science agrees that telling stories and listening to them is actually good for you! It contributes to overall well being and helps develop specific and strategic relational brain skills. Who knew! And Pastors, you are  story tellers, and you can spread joy and grow joy through story telling.

Our guest this week is Ken Smith a business man and long time friend of Shepherd’s House. He shares how he grows joy with Four + Stories every pastor should ask his congregation to tell. His passion is to see people growing as they participate in life giving communities, a passion Joy Starts Here and The Life Model have as well.

Ken discovered that disciple making movements throughout church history contained the same features as The Life Model and some of the same language found in the recent book Joy Starts Here.

· Dependence on God was pervasive in these movements

· Gentle Protectors at the center as leaders – Leaders who knew how to work with those who are weaker or who needws help

· Disciples had a process for passing on to others what they were learning

How important are these three features? Important enough to be preserved in stained glass windows—the multimedia presentations of past generations. These themes have been reinforced throughout church history so it is not surprising that it is showing up again in the “joy model.”

… dependence on God in prayer


…windows depicting leadership protecting the weak.

  Gentle ProtectorGentle Protector 2













…windows of Jesus with His disciples reveal how things were passed on to the next generation of leaders




















Ken examined 5 types of stories that people need to learn to tell. They parallel principles taught in The Life Model. Telling these stories actually helps build the relational skills you need to develop and maintain healthy relationships.

  • Thankfulness (Joy Stories)
  • Focusing on God during distress (Shalom Stories)
  • Serving one another or the strong helping the weak (Helping Stories)
  • Loving God by obeying Him
  • Sharing with others what you are learning (Learning Stories)
  • Learning continually through God’s word  (God and His People Stories)

storytelling 6

Joyful Stories or thankful stories are about the moments you perceive something that gives you life, when you see the finger of God in the world and can give thanks for it. These are the things you need to thank God for, the things you need to express to others around you. Telling these stories moves you to a more relational state of mind which is helpful when you are working with a group and are trying to get them to connect with God as a major part of your time together.

Storytelling 7

Shalom Stories, or return to joy stories, are about the difficult moments in life and how God helped you get back to joy and peace. When you remember that God is with you and that He is bigger than all of your problems, it goes a long way toward restoring peace in your life. Sharing these stories together strengthens your ability to suffer well in distress and remember in the midst of distress that God is with you.

Storytelling 8

Help Stories: Stories of life when help is needed; both when you need to ask for help and when you offer help to others. These are important maturity tasks that many people struggle to learn so by making them stories that you tell as a regular part of your gathering, you help foster care for one another and strengthen the community. It is humbling to ask for help and it helps take masks off so that God also can start to speak to your heart as you continue on with the other stories.

Storytelling 9

Learning Stories: These are the stories of what happened when you put into practice what you are learning. Sharing with others what you are learning helps you remember the lesson as well as passing it on to others to learn. The best teacher is a student who is excited about what he is learning. Jesus said that we need to be doers and not just hearers of the word. Teaching is also a reminder and accountability factor for people as they put things into practice and come back and report the good things that happened.

Storytelling 10

Stories of God and His People: These are the stories of the people and things of the Bible that God wants you to know and do. If you learn these stories so you can tell others and apply the stories to your life, then all kinds of things start changing and happening in your life. God starts teaching you and you start seeing God all around in ways you never saw before.

There are all kinds of relational skills that can be built and trained when you lead a group through storytelling. It is one of those things where if you have not done it before it is helpful to do it with someone else to see how they handle some of that. But, it is a rich place to begin building relational skills with other people.

In the next post we will explore story telling in the group setting—things you can expect, relational brain skills that develop, things to look for and work toward.

Action Step: Tell someone your joy story. Listen for the stories people are telling, appreciate the story, validate the person and watch the joy grow!

For the full interview between Chris Coursey and Ken Smith, click hereThe video loads slowly so be patient and it will appear. There were some recording difficulties that day! : )

For help telling 4 + 1 stories, click here

Blessings, Carol Brown                                                                        

Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer