Ever wish you should read the minds of your storytellers to serve them better? Maybe you have even asked them before, but you don’t feel like you’ve received straight forward answers. If we want our storytellers to win on Sunday, we need to understand their point of view and provide an environment where they can thrive in their role.
Five things every storyteller wishes you knew about them:
They are nervous. Every single time.
They may shrug it off as excitement, but most storytellers are genuinely nervous before they get on stage. Every moment they are in front of kids is an adventure with many variables out of their control. From working with props and costumes to kids who could start heckling or throw things at you any second, storytelling is not for the faint of heart.
Beyond the nerves, good storytellers feel the weight of their responsibility to communicate the message of the Gospel.
Throughout the week, encourage your storyteller with emails reminding them how important they are and how much you are praying for them.
Create a large group environment that limits the variables by how you seat kids, have enough leaders in the room, and use lighting and sound to focus kids’ attention on the Bible story.
Don’t bother them on Sundays. They need their space.
They’re not being rude, but really, storytellers don’t want to hear your announcements on Sunday morning right before they’re about to get on stage.
Storytellers walk into church with a head full of words and ideas to make the Bible story come alive. Don’t attempt to cram more information in there with announcements.
Create a green room where your storyteller can escape to rest and mentally prepare for the morning ahead. Provide coffee, water, and snacks and have the week’s announcements on a whiteboard for them to read as they wish. Follow up with them or download new information after they’re finished with their storytelling .
They are storytellers not production managers.
The last thing your storytellers want to do when they show up on Sunday morning is prep the props they need for the story. This is not your storytellers acting like divas; rather this is giving them the time they need to focus on their primary job for the morning: telling a great Bible story.
When everything is prepared ahead of time, the storyteller can visually see everything they need for the story. They can start rehearsing with the props right away, which will help them feel more comfortable with the props and enable them to focus on engaging the kids with God’s word.
Find a volunteer production assistant who can come during the week (or reliably early every Sunday) and prep the props needed for large group.
They take all criticism personally.
They can’t help it. They don’t want to. But like any actor, their performance is an extension of who they are, and they are their own worst critic.
As soon as they come offstage, storytellers start reviewing how they told the story in their heads. And most likely, they won’t be thinking of how well they connected with the kids. Instead, they’ll dwell on the parts of the story they missed or felt didn’t quite come off like they imagined.
Right after storytellers get offstage is not the time to rattle off all the mistakes you noticed. Instead, encourage them with what went well. Let a day or two pass and follow up with ways they can improve in the future.
If they need to tell the story at a second service, give quick, specific suggestions to implement. Don’t harp on everything that went wrong, it’ll kill their confidence going into that second service.
In your ongoing storyteller evaluations, work hard to make your notes as objective as possible. Leave out phrases such as, “I feel like…” Instead, give concrete examples of what didn’t work, “Every time you turned your back to grab a prop, the kids threw paper wads …” Give this evaluation with grace and truth, and collaborate on an improvement plan, “…what can we do differently starting next week so you don’t have to turn your back to the audience?”
Not doing ongoing storyteller evaluations yet? Download and try this evaluation form.
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They want to be better storytellers.
Because they’re so concerned about how well they tell the Bible story, storytellers DO want to improve their skills. Most don’t know where to start or have a lot of time to devote to growth in this area. They are volunteers with full time lives outside of Sunday.
Make it easy for them to get training. Host training events throughout the year where they can come and learn together in community. Build a team of people committed to learning the craft of storytelling to help kids grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Check out some storyteller training opportunities here!