Power of a story (Brian Andreas)



Original Blog Post from Ethan Zuckerman

The crux of Andreas’ time was spent helping the audience understand the power of a story to build general awareness and support for what at times are complex scientific and techonological issues.  Here is an excerpt I wanted to share.


start with the first three rules: treat me like a friend, show me some pictures, help me see the patterns. I’d do that. But then I’d add the fourth and fifth and sixth ones.
The fourth one is something that C.S. Lewis said: “Use the ideas of adults and the words of children.” And partly what that means is that in order to tell what you know to a child, you have to know it cold. You can’t fake us out. Because so often people who can explain don’t really know what they’re talking about. The more you know your stuff, the easier it should be to bring it to a child’s level. Also, the sneaky thing about that is, when you’re speaking to a child, you literally are speaking to the child self of your audience. Now, oftentimes, from a science and technology standpoint, you don’t want to do that because you want to prove how smart you are and how clear your data is so it’s reproduceable. But you forget that first you have to connect again. It goes back to “treat me like a friend.” But if you’re talking to a child, you’re going, “This is the wonder of science and here’s why I’m so fascinated by it.”
Fifth, sixth and seventh are all related. The one that comes to mind is that people get stuck with “beginning, middle and end.” And they go, “Oh, a story has to have a beginning, middle and end.” Yeah, it does, but a beginning, middle and end is as simple as, “One day there was a problem. And then suddenly this next thing happened, and you couldn’t believe it. And then it spun wildly out of control. And then it all worked out.” That’s a beginning, middle and end. And so that’s what I would go with as my next points.

The power of a story is underestimated.  It captures our imaginations and remains with us much longer than facts and figures (most of us anyway…you engineer types are wired differently I know!)  Why we don’t harness the power of God’s Word as story is beyond my imagination.  We run all around the text during sermons and even Bible studies and “use” Scripture to make the point that we want to make.  Why don’t we just trust THE STORY that  God has given us?  I hear it is too boring for some.  I also hear that this generation does not want to hear about what took place thousands of years ago in a context we do not understand.  But I think that creative sound teaching can take care of all the apparent issues why the Bible just doesn’t work anymore (so THEY say.)

I also want to encourage us to get into the Grand Story more and more ourselves.  We can’t hope to be the people God has called us to be without knowing God’s Word, and more importantly living God’s Word.  Find a study group.  Pick-up a new readable translation of the Bible.  Begin small and work your way from there.  It will change your life.  And that is a promise from someone (not me) who never fails to deliver.