I’ve produced a lot of God story films. The team at Hope, where I work, produces around a hundred a year (that’s not a typo, they work hard). With all these films I’ve noticed a trend: Stories that don’t work are stories that don’t connect emotionally. One reason they don’t connect is there is no conflict. And you need conflict in storytelling.

All drama is conflict. Without conflict, you have no action; without action, you have no character; without character, you have no story; and without story, you have no screenplay. ~ Syd Field “Screenplay – The foundations of Screenwriting

While it is easier to measure a film’s effectiveness by whether we see more sign ups, recruit more volunteers or have more guests attend our services, etc… (insert your favorite call to action here) There is an important prerequisite: Did it connect? Emotional connection is the cover charge to get into the club. Stories that connect are stories with conflict. It’s one of the key elements of a story.

We’ve produced stories that aired in weekend service that had a direct increase in volunteers. Then next week… nothing. Same approach. Different results. Why?

We’ve made stories that people talk about on social media next week and share with their friends, next time… crickets and tumbleweeds. WHY?!?

Maybe the problem isn’t with the story, but what it’s missing. In our culture, people spend thousands of hours in training to recognize a well-told story. Where? The school-of-binge-watching-Netflix, TV, movies, ads, youtube, etc… And when we as church filmmakers don’t deliver a well-crafted-story we lose relevance and effectiveness.

I have a bold proposal:

Do NOT produce stories without conflict.

Examples:

  • I never went to church and now I do.
  • This class made our great marriage even better.
  • I got baptized.
  • I enjoy serving.
  • The volume of worship is perfect and I love the mix… Oh wait, no one ever says that.

Stories with no conflict are stories with no impact. At best, they are ministry highlights or recaps, at worse they are white noise in your weekend service.

Lets tell better stories.

Hey CFN filmmakers, what are some other reasons you’ve seen your stories fall flat in your services?

Don’t avoid conflict in storytelling

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