But We’ve Never Done It That Way Before: Educating Church Leaders to Communicate in a Digital World
(originally published in The Journal of Biblical Storytelling, Vol. 15, Number 1)
“So, is being a performing musician your fulltime job?” I asked. I had been brought in as one of the keynote speakers of a big denominational youth event in Georgia and had finally been introduced to the main musician who had been flown in from San Diego. I’d been told that he’d been “doing” this particular annual event for almost a decade.
“Naw … this is just my avocation. My vocation is in the audio/visual world. Most of my clients are churches. I help them get wired up with sound, screens, projectors, the works.”
He had my attention. I’d noticed the top-notch equipment he’d used during his songs to project not only lyrics but also images that went along with the music.
“Really?” I commented. “And has it been your experience that most churches are jumping on that bandwagon?”
“Oh yeah,” he nodded vigorously. Then he paused and added matter-of-factly, “Or they’re dying.”
The Times, They Are A-Changing
There’s been a lot of talk, and debate, over the past couple of decades about the need for churches to “jump on the bandwagon” of digital communication. Some churches have fiercely resisted, doing the old “ostrich with his head in the sand” imitation as a way to avoid, and even deny, the drastic changes in culture and communication going on all around them. Others have “jumped,” blindly, not really knowing what they’re doing, and not really doing it very well, but doing it anyway because that’s what they’ve been told to do in order to remain (or become) vital. Many other churches have found themselves somewhere in the middle, deeply feeling the strains of a transitioning culture, knowing that changes need to be made, but hesitating to make those changes because it’s all unknown (and largely untaught) territory. (There are also those churches that understand the implications of what’s been going on for the past 40+ years, have made the transition successfully, and are effectively ministering to a large group of people. This article is not for them!)
Initially, I found myself firmly planted in the first category—the resisters. I’d experienced a couple of “contemporary” worship services and, quite frankly, they had left me cold. I now know that they were churches in the second category—the jumpers, those eagerly willing to follow the sage advice of church growth experts but not having been sufficiently trained to implement the necessary changes in an effective manner. The study and exploration I undertook in my recent Doctor of Ministry degree, however, moved me quickly into the third category—open but confused—and then into a place of understanding much better and wanting to enlighten others so that the Church universal would find itself squarely in the fourth category—victors!
Becoming a Biblical Storyteller
So, where does a congregation even begin in making this transition? Well, as a professional storyteller I may be biased, but I’d suggest first introducing your church to the power of traditional storytelling.1 Organize an intergenerational fellowship dinner and bring in a seasoned biblical storyteller to provide the entertainment afterwards. Once people have been exposed to the possibilities storytelling offers for preaching, teaching, evangelism, etc., perhaps a few of them will be willing to try it themselves. At the very least, it might persuade the powers that be to support, both with a budget and with participation, a church-wide effort.
I’ve done a lot of work in the Maryland Diocese of the Episcopal Church since 1997, thanks to its Missioner for Education, Klara Tammany. She had a vision, when she began her job there that same year, that every parish within that diocese would eventually have a troupe or guild of biblical storytellers to serve as a resource for their church in whatever capacity was needed. So she and I set out to make that happen. While we haven’t reached her ambitious original goal, we have developed guilds within a number of the parishes by leading workshops and training small groups in the art of storytelling.
Most of the churches began with making sure the guild members learned the upcoming Sunday School or Vacation Bible School stories and then strongly encouraged the various Christian education teachers and leaders to call upon the guild to tell these stories on the appropriate days, rather than simply reading them to their classes themselves. In a few cases, this has begun to spread beyond traditional education to include worship and other venues. (Speaking of other venues, Klara’s dream is also to so condition the parishes under her tutelage to the essentialness of story in our lives that no gathering of the parish happens without a biblical story being told. This includes choir practice, staff meetings, trustees, etc. The opportunities are endless!)
Every year, the Network of Biblical Storytellers hosts a 3 1/2 day Festival Gathering that combines workshops (which focus on a wide range of topics—everything from intense work on learning a specific story to enhancing movement and nonverbal communication to digital storytelling techniques), enlightening and often provocative lectures by relatively famous narrative-based theologians and/or practitioners, formal and informal times for telling a wide variety of story genres, hysterically funny community-building recreation, and some of the most amazing worship services I’ve ever experienced. It is, without a doubt, the spiritual highlight of my year and I highly recommend it. Not only is it the best place that I’m aware of to get trained in sound biblical storytelling techniques, but the relationships fostered during those few days serve as an invaluable network of support throughout the rest of the year as we each try to continue the mission of the Network (to encourage everyone to learn and tell biblical stories) on our own, something that often feels like a very lonely uphill battle.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a supportive community throughout this time of transition. Transitions are notorious for being difficult; difficulty often breeds misery; misery loves company! Seriously, I have personally experienced more than one occasion over the years when I’ve felt like throwing in the towel. And it’s only been because of my friends and colleagues who have “been there” and who willingly provided shoulders to cry on and ears upon which to vent (as well as a lot of humor that always seems to make the most frustrating of experiences less dire) that I’ve stuck with the mission through thick and thin.2
The kinds of frustrations and roadblocks I’ve experienced as a professional biblical storyteller (churches not understanding why I’m charging them a fee—after all, I’m doing the Lord’s work!; conventional wisdom that seems to perpetuate the mentality that storytelling is only geared for children; the belief that telling the scripture lesson in worship is an inappropriate performance; that it shows disrespect to portray the Bible as humorous or to, God forbid, actually laugh upon experiencing such a portrayal; etc.) seem relatively minor when compared to the frustrations I’ve encountered with trying to transition into a more overtly digital communication paradigm.
A Non-Digital Person in a Digital World
The biggest obstacle I have personally faced is the fact that I’m not a technically-minded person. I wholeheartedly believe in all this stuff, I understand the theory and theology behind it, and I’ve purchased an LCD projector and have started to convert my old workshops into digital presentations so as to help others “see the light” of technology— literally! But I’m not a “techie.” And that has proven to be a problem in more than one of my newly-digital workshops when I’ve not been able to advance a PowerPoint slide, or get what’s being projected on the screen for everyone to see to stop mirroring stuff from my laptop screen that I don’t want them to see, or how to import a DVD movie clip that starts in the middle of a chapter, or how to get a song to play through the advancement of more than one PowerPoint slide, or the best way to fade back a graphic so I can add visible text over it, or knowing just enough about PhotoShop to create a few simple graphics of my own. I don’t even know enough to be dangerous; I know just enough to be frustrated (and not nearly enough to troubleshoot!).
The most embarrassing part of this, of course, is that it defeats the purpose of a workshop on digital communication when the digital communication transmitting the information breaks down! On the other hand, I’ve used those glitches as teachable moments to exhibit how imperative it is to have people who are properly trained (unlike myself!) involved in our church’s media ministry. If no one is available who already has this training, then money must be budgeted for it. This is a great place to utilize the intuitively “digital” abilities of many youth, but even they should have the back-up support official training provides. (And what a nice biblical model of servanthood/humility to have adults being mentored by the youth!)
This whole intergenerational element of digital culture should be taken seriously, especially in the Church where many congregations bemoan the fact that once their youth are confirmed (or get their driver’s licenses!) they rarely darken the doorway of the church again. Much hand wringing then takes place trying to figure out how to draw them back. If it’s true that this age group is “wired” differently, that they more intuitively know not only about this stuff philosophically, but have the technical expertise to actually do it, then why not take advantage of that? Get them involved as part of a media ministry design team. Their insights will be invaluable for “speaking the language” of their generation and they’ll feel ownership of, and a vested interest in, their church’s ministry programs.
This kind of a team approach also fosters a more egalitarian, lateral leadership style (as opposed to the more traditional, hierarchical model) that draws upon the creative juices and talents of a much larger segment of a congregation. With this being the case, you then have a better chance of reaching a wider range of multiple intelligences. Everyone wins! In some ways, it’s a lot more work because worship (and education) isn’t a cookie cutter format week after week that only requires you to fill in a few ritualistic blanks. But because there is a much larger group of people sharing the load, this burden doesn’t have to fall on any one person. (Let me tell you, as I’ve traveled around by myself doing this ministry, I’ve longed for a team to help me plan and implement my presentations! I would love not to have to carry that burden—literally and figuratively—all by myself!)
Something these “burdens” have taught me is the importance of preparation and practice. Because I’m not a techie and don’t understand how these machines work, I don’t leave anything to chance. I don’t just run completely through a PowerPoint presentation when I’ve added or subtracted something, I do a full run through as soon as I’ve set up even if nothing has changed since the last time I made that exact same presentation! (But even performing this ritual religiously, there was one time when the show froze up on me about 2/3 of the way through a workshop. To this day I have no idea what caused it. I’m not aware that I’d done anything differently from the other half dozen times I’d made that presentation —and I’d even done a “dress rehearsal” that day before everyone arrived. Sigh …)
The other big lesson I’ve learned the hard way is, that while it’s nice to have a team, the more people you add to the mix, the more organized you need to be and the less room for spontaneity there is. If the person running the projector/VCR/sound system doesn’t have some sort of script, you’re asking for trouble. One of my earliest forays into this digital world involved a very simple PowerPoint: a graphic that stayed on the screen for the entire story and then a closing video clip. I’d told my “techie” that his cue to start the video was about 20 minutes into my story when I said, “The ability to choose between good and evil is in every one of us.” What I had neglected to tell him was that I would be saying that phrase at other times during the story as well! I figured that it would be clear which repetition was the cue because none of the other times happened “about 20 minutes into the story.” Well I don’t have to tell you that he jerked to attention every time I said it … actually starting the video at one point … and I had to continually shake my head “no” until he was so gun shy that I had to give a very obvious nod “yes” when it was time—obvious to the entire audience, which certainly interrupted the overall flow and impact of the story!
To ensure a smooth flow, particularly when there is more than one person participating in the presentation, a script really is a must. But that also means it’s very difficult to stray from the script, which might not be a big problem but certainly limits the role of the Holy Spirit! The best way to strike a balance is to include places in the script for non-scripted activity. These times shouldn’t be dependant on specifically timed media. That’s not to say that music can’t be playing or a slide show running during these times but anything that relies on time-sensitive responses must fall in the scripted category. Everything else can enjoy more flexibility.
And speaking of flexibility … it’s the name of the game! Glitches aren’t relegated solely to the realm of digital culture. I’ve been in traditional worship services where a note on the organ got stuck and continued whining long past the hymn and only ceased when the organ itself was finally shut off completely. And there was the time the Tenebrae service planners didn’t think about how the choir was going to see their music for the final choral offering once all candles and electric lights had been extinguished. And once a strong summer breeze came through the open window and blew the preacher’s sermon notes off the pulpit, scattering them around the chancel. No one said we should do away with the organ or Tenebrae services or open windows. Instead, (after a good laugh!) the learned lessons from each experience were applied to future services in a way to prevent a repeat glitch.
Why should it be any different with digital glitches? We’re all in the midst of a big learning curve here. We wouldn’t demand even someone like Pavarotti to give a flawless performance if he’d never rehearsed or been trained. We expect our preachers and organists to spend time preparing sermons and practicing music. Well, a digital presentation doesn’t just magically come together. It takes planning, practice, teamwork, coordination, and communication among all those involved in the transmitting. And it takes patience, understanding, and a sense of humor from those involved in the receiving! But the folks who feel threatened by new ways of doing things don’t always possess those qualities.
Preparing the Way
That’s why it’s extremely important to carefully and lovingly address the fears of those who resist making these changes. Have candid and prayerful conversations with each other. Make it clear that they will be heard. Assure them that this isn’t about throwing the baby out with the bath water (people didn’t stop talking when the printing press was invented and books won’t cease to exist or be read just because the ability for high-tech communication is now available—Oprah will see to that!). Brainstorm as a group some realistic goals for your particular church. (I talked with one minister who pastors a dying—literally—congregation made up completely of senior citizens. These church members have made it clear that they have absolutely no desire to attract anyone younger to their fold. While this makes me sad, it’s good that they know this about themselves and that, for their specific congregation, trying to make a digital transition would be a colossal waste of energy!)
But for those congregations who are up for the challenge, who have perhaps gotten used to the idea of storytelling and maybe even are supporting and utilizing a storytelling guild, taking the technological leap is the next logical step. After all, the many congruities between oral and digital communication can only help to ease this transition.
My own church is a great example. It’s made up largely of senior citizens who are very comfortable with traditional worship … and even the younger members—mostly late 20’s into their 30’s—were initially attracted by our largely traditional worship style. (So, it’s not all a generational thing; it’s really more of a multiple intelligences thing.) Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I walked into the sanctuary for Tenebrae last year and saw a screen set up! The pastor had purchased an on-sale LCD projector and, being someone who has always had a deep appreciation of the arts, had spent some time researching famous paintings depicting the various scenes of Christ’s Passion. As the lessons were read and the choral responses sung, he projected the appropriate painting, utilizing a dozen or so in the course of the service. I couldn’t wait to hear the responses!
A few weeks later he held a congregational meeting to talk about “how we do worship,” to get feedback as to what we were doing right and what could be improved upon. While there were strong opinions about not turning into a foot-stomping, 20-minutes-of-superficial-praise-music congregation, I was amazed to hear that they were indeed open to utilizing a screen for the projection of meditative images (the only thing for which a screen in worship would be appropriate, according to one long-time member!). So I guess it’ll be a while before we try video clips! But that’s fine! I never thought I’d see the day when we’d get this far. One step at a time … which, perhaps, started for us the first time I told the Gospel in worship (something I’ve done numerous times since).
The most important point to stress is that the root issue here is communication. Period. It’s not about lowering standards, or elevating entertainment, or ignoring sacred and treasured traditions and rituals. It’s about taking seriously our responsibility as Christians to spread the Good News. Period. In order to do that, we need to make sure we’re communicating that message in a language that makes sense to the people we’re trying to reach. Period. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large the declining numbers in mainline Protestant churches (who have largely resisted making the transition to digital communication) and the increasing memberships of non-denominational churches (who jumped on the digital bandwagon early on) give a pretty clear indication as to which churches are speaking the language of an ever-growing number of people. Period. It’s not rocket science.
There is great potential here for division: old vs. young; progressive vs. traditional; 11:00 service vs. 8:30 service; etc. Some churches have resigned themselves to these divisions and catered to the varying languages by offering more than one type of worship service. Or, some have simply settled on one approach, dedicated themselves to doing that well, and acknowledged that those who don’t jive with it can go to the church down the road that does resonate with them. Neither of these are bad options. I personally don’t think, however, that they’re ideal, especially the first one. It severs the body of Christ at the one time in the weekly life of a church that the body should be brought together. Some would disagree with me, and I’m not suggesting that this would work in every situation, but I do think it’s possible to marry more than one language or approach in a way that not only doesn’t water down the experience, but also creates a powerful punch and leaves a lasting impression. I say this because I’ve actually experienced it personally in services where the audience was almost completely made up of middle-aged folks accustomed to traditional worship styles.
The thing I keep telling people with hesitancies is that “going digital” doesn’t have to be high-tech, and it doesn’t even have to drastically change the overall look of the worship with which they’ve grown very comfortable. It simply means adding another dimension or two to the experience. The order of worship can largely stay the same. But adding a graphic (whether on a screen, an easel, or as an insert in the bulletin), or a dramatic presentation, or a tactile “prop” for folks to take home with them as a reminder … these are all examples of worship consistent with communication in a digital age. And none of them have to necessarily change in a radical way the main essence of their current worship experience. The key is involving as much of the person as possible (a la multiple intelligences). “When the whole range of our senses is activated by the Word and sacramental signs of God, life comes to worship, and worship comes alive.”3
In fact, it’s not all that different from a typical “Youth Sunday” experience—it would just be more frequent than once a year! I wouldn’t, however, recommend initially implementing these changes on a weekly basis. Begin slowly, introducing one new element at a time, maybe starting with a gathering other than the traditional 11:00 Sunday morning service. Whatever you do, make sure it’s well planned, rehearsed, and executed! Provide a powerful and positive experience that naturally calls for a repeat performance. Get some key church leaders on board to help cheerlead. The best idea may be to make it clear that no change is necessarily set in stone; but enough time must be allowed for people to get used to a new idea before a fair evaluation can take place.
I spoke with a Lutheran pastor in Wisconsin who has made an agreement with his congregation that they give every new idea or experiment six months before an evaluation is done. They might hate it—but they’re not allowed to complain until the six-month time period is complete. He claims that nothing (not one thing!) he’s implemented has been voted down in the several years he’s tried this approach. Most changes met with resistance from at least a few people initially but even these folks “came around” after six months and realized the changes had been helpful improvements after all. (And this included the idea of not taking up an official offering but just having baskets at the doors!)
Can We Afford This?
Speaking of money, this is a frequent criticism: Our church can’t afford all that fancy equipment! Well, I would again like to reiterate that communication in digital culture doesn’t necessarily have to be high-tech and expensive. But for the churches that do want to explore that option, the good news is that costs are coming down all the time. Whatever I write in this article will likely already be outdated by the time you read it but in Wilson and Moore’s Digital Storytellers (published in 2002) they claimed that a church can begin the process for as little as $75 a quarter.4
And Tom Boomershine is fond of pointing out that the money is there. If you had everyone in your church tally up how much money their household spent on digital communication in one year’s time (monthly payments for cell phones/Internet/cable/TiVo/etc., movie rentals/nights out, purchasing cameras/camcorders/computers/software/video games/PDAs/etc.) and then if you tallied up each household’s expenditures, most churches would have a whopping high grand total … more than enough to outfit their church with adequate equipment. His point is that not only is the money there, but most people have already committed, on a personal level anyway, to digital communication. The trick is helping them to realize that the future of the Church depends on its making this shift to a digital form of communication. If it’s important to them that their children and grandchildren have a church to go to where they can hear the stories of good news in their “native language” then they need to make the investment now. If they can be convinced of this need then maybe they’ll make a communal commitment to it by redistributing some of their personal digital funds to a church digital fund.
Of course, how to convince them of this is the $64,000 question. So let me share with you a few of the specific “digital stories” I’ve put together that have been met with very positive responses. I offer them to you as examples that have worked for me that may be easy for you to implement.5
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Genesis 1 Creation Story: Because I travel a lot, and have always been a bit of an amateur photographer, I’ve been fortunate enough to collect pictures from all over the world that convey a wide range of topography, flora, and fauna. I put this together into a PowerPoint presentation that roughly follows the order of the six days of creation along with Eva Cassidy’s version of “What a Wonderful World.” (Louis Armstrong’s version is beautiful, as well, but because it’s better known, I prefer to use Eva because she offers a freshness that tends to grab and hold the attention of listeners a little better.) At the end of the slide show, I leave the last image on the screen while I then tell the Gen. 1 story in person, but that’s just icing on the cake. The PowerPoint presentation, if done well, could easily stand on its own. And the creation is something that everyone has access to so it shouldn’t be difficult to put a similar show together for your congregation. Better yet, invite church members to each contribute their favorite picture of creation and make a presentation with them. Those who participate will then have ownership in the final product.
- John 20:1-18 Resurrection Story: This is the version with Mary Magdalene mistaking the risen Christ for the gardener. When he says her name, she “sees” or recognizes Jesus and cries out, “Rabbouni!” (Teacher!). A wonderful parallel story is the scene at the end of the original The Miracle Worker when Helen Keller (Patty Duke) is at the well and finally recognizes that the water she’s feeling with her hand has a connection with the sign language word for “water” that she’s been taught. Not only that, but all the sign language words have a connection. She runs around touching things, demanding Annie Sullivan to spell out their names in her hand. Finally, she points to Annie herself who spells out t-e-a-c-h-e-r and when Helen spells it back to her, in full recognition, “seeing” Annie for who she is, Annie nods and says, “Yes, teacher … teacher.” You can also find a firsthand account of the breakthrough Helen experienced that day in The Story of My Life.6 An added element to this experience would be to teach everyone how to sign “teacher.”
- Cycle A Lenten Stories: Many of these stories from John’s Gospel deal with “blindness” and “seeing” but on a spiritual level. My favorite of all these is “The Man Born Blind” in John 9. What intrigues me about this story is how those who physically see, aren’t aware that they’re spiritual “blind.” They’re blind to the fact that they’re blind. So for this story, I worked up a PowerPoint presentation consisting of pictures, found mostly on the Web doing a Google search, representing very colorful objects: rainbows, flowers, lollipops, hot air balloons, box of Crayola crayons, a painter’s palette, etc. I then converted all the pictures to black and white and set the slide show to the song “I Can See Clearly Now” ending with a slide of dazzling color that echoed the words of the Pharisees: “Surely we are not blind, are we?” The best part about this is that for many people, it takes half of the slide show for them to realize that all the pictures are in black and white, and once they do realize it, they initially think it’s a mistake or glitch in the equipment. When the realization finally dawns on them what’s going on, it tends to be a very powerful moment!
- Maundy Thursday: The song “O Death” by Ralph Stanley from the soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? provides a particularly poignant backdrop for meditating on Jesus’ time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. The words of the song alone are fairly powerful and could stand alone (especially if people were truly meditating with eyes closed) but adding a simple graphic would also work.7
- Birth Stories: Whether Jesus, John the Baptist, or one of the many momentous births found in the Old Testament, birth is something we can all relate to. (If we ourselves haven’t had children, we usually know someone who has … or at the very least, there’s our own birth!) So, the congregation could be asked to bring in their baby pictures and a physical collage could be made with them, or they could be incorporated into a PowerPoint presentation. A few people could be videotaped telling the story of their birth or the birth of one of their children (especially appropriate if the story somewhat paralleled the biblical story: older parents who thought they were barren; a very young and/or unwed pregnancy; a delivery that took place far from loved ones in a strange place; etc.) and those incorporated into the slide show. Or, if you wanted to take this to a more metaphorical level, the story of the birth of that particular church could be told, along with all the fears and joys that surrounded it. This would be particularly fruitful for a big anniversary year celebration (and then could be used in ensuing years as part of a new member’s class to help acquaint participants with their new church).
Obviously, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Once the creative juices start flowing, the sky is the limit. I would also suggest going to visit a number of churches that are already doing this and enter into each of those experiences with a critical eye. (Many are NOT doing it well!) Talk to their leaders as well as their ordinary members to learn vicariously from their mistakes as well as to get a feel for what might work best (or not at all!) in your particular setting. Finally, I would highly suggest reading resources like Out on the Edge8, The Wired Church9, and Digital Storytellers10 because they all not only have clear-cut steps to take and elements to incorporate but accompanying DVDs that actually show you some of what they’re talking about.
Back in my DCE days, a church member donated a fax machine to the church office. We were grateful, but initially I remember the secretary and I saying to each other, “I’m not sure we really have much need for a fax machine.” Within two weeks (no joke) our tune had changed to, “How did we ever manage without a fax machine?” I had a similar experience when I finally got a cell phone with an efficient calling plan that allowed me to use it for more than just emergencies. I think it only took one week that time for me to exclaim over and over, “How in the world did I ever function without this thing?!”
My hope is that one day the transition from communicating in a literate culture way to a digital culture way will be so complete (and by then, so smooth) that the Church at large will be echoing that sentiment, “How on earth did we ever manage to worship without a screen (and stories and audience participation and images and …)?” For the Church’s sake—literally—I pray for that day to come sooner rather than later!
1 That may sound counter-intuitive. “Wait a minute, we’re talking about digital culture, not oral culture!” But believe it or not, the elements involved with each of these communication systems actually have more in common with each other than either of them do with print/literate culture. That’s probably one of the reasons traditional storytelling experienced a renaissance the same time digital culture was coming into its own.
2The first change I made to the NOBS newsletter when I became its editor was adding a feature entitled “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Telling a Story” that highlights a different mishap in each issue. It’s a way of letting all our readers know that they’re not alone when things go awry and that when they find themselves in less-than-ideal circumstances, it too will pass and they will survive … perhaps even to laugh about it later! To read archived copies of The Biblical Storyteller, go to http://www.nobs.org/news.htm. (The “Funny Thing” feature began with the Summer 2000 issue.)
3Don E. Saliers, Worship Come to Its Senses (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996) 46.
4Len Wilson & Jason Moore, Digital Storytellers: The Art of Communicating the Gospel in Worship (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002) 160.
5One of the most comprehensive Web sites I’ve come across (that’s also free!) for researching exegetical information, past sermons, and possible movies, songs, and artwork with parallel themes for virtually every scripture lesson, is www.textweek.com. The format of the site needs some work as it’s too cluttered and a bit difficult to navigate because of all that information but you’ll not want for material here! Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to browse because you could literally spend a week on most texts!
6Helen Keller, The Story of My Life (New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1903), 23. This essay is also found in Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource Vol. 2 ed. Susan A. Blain, Sharon Iverson, Catherine O’Callaghan and Grant Spradling (Cleveland: United Church Press, 1995) 163. There are a total of three volumes in this series and I would highly recommend adding them to your library. They are incredible collections of photography, paintings, sculptures, drawings, songs, poems, and essays that follow the three lectionary cycles. (If nothing else, they make great coffee table books—they’re gorgeous!) The problem is that they’re technically out of print. I think there are still some sitting in warehouses somewhere though and as of this writing, Amazon.com had all three listed as available (so get ‘em while you can!).
7 For possible images to use, check out the following Web sites: http://www.textweek.com/art/gethsemane.htm
http://www.biblical-art.com/biblicalsubject.asp?id_biblicalsubject=643&pagenum=1 http://www.artcyclopedia.com/scripts/tsearch.pl?t=garden+of+gethsemane&type=2 http://www.abcgallery.com/newtestament.html
8Michael Slaughter, Out on the Edge: A Wake-Up Call for Church Leaders on the Edge of the Media Reformation (Nashville: Abingdon, 1998). Chapters 4-8 are especially helpful in giving guidance for getting started.
9Len Wilson, The Wired Church: Making Media Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999). This book has some great tips for novice churches (see Part Three) as well as a lot of technical advice (everything from “Eye-Popping Media” to “Buying the Tools” to a “Pre-Event Checklist”).
10Len Wilson & Jason Moore, Digital Storytellers: The Art of Communicating the Gospel in Worship (Nashville: Abingdon, 2002). This book is a personal favorite of mine because it doesn’t just concentrate on the high-tech stuff but spends a decent amount of time laying out the theory behind why all of this is narrative-based.
Tracy Radosevic has been supporting herself as a freelance storyteller, mostly of biblical narratives, since 1997. In that time, she has traveled extensively performing, leading workshops, facilitating retreats, and teaching classes. She has been a member of NOBS since 1990, serving in various capacities, the most recent of which is Dean of the Academy for Biblical Storytelling. This article is a piece of her Doctor of Ministry thesis, From Text to Talkies: Communicating the Good News in a Post-Literate Culture.