What “Story” Does Your Church Facility Tell?: Story vs. Fairy Tale

Which do you prefer…a Story or a Fairy Tale?  What is the difference? Let’s look at these…then apply them to our church facilities.

The word story may be used as a synonym of “narrative”. It can also be used to refer to the sequence of events described in a narrative. More narrowly defined, it is the means whereby the narrator (or Story Teller) communicates directly to the reader.

Stories are an important aspect of culture. Many works of art and most works of literature tell stories; in fact, most of humanities involve stories. Owen Flanagan of Duke University, a leading consciousness researcher, writes that “Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers”.  We use stories to pass on the past to the next generation or to give instruction.  It is also used to convey an idea, concept, precaution, and the like.  A story can be fiction or non-fiction and can become embellished over time…but most stories that convey a non-fiction narrative are generally filled with truth.

fairy tale , on the other hand, is a type of short story that typically features folklore and fantasy.  Most of the time we refer to them as a type of children’s literature.  The term is also used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in “fairy tale ending”  or “fairy tale romance” (though not all fairy tales end happily). In the vernacular, a “fairy tale” or “fairy story” can also mean any far fetched story or tall tale; it’s used especially of any story that not only isn’t true, but couldn’t possibly be true.

I like stories and I like fairy tales. I like to understand perspective, the past, the present paradigms and all the things you can learn from a story.  I also like getting lost in a good fairy tale.  I love fairy tales like The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe.  It is great to become transformed into these make-believe worlds with their unique languages, places, characters and assumptions.

However, what I do not like is when I think I am observing or participating in a story to learn that it is actually only a fairy tale. I feel betrayed, tricked or misled. Have you ever read a story and were fully engulfed in a theme to only find out that it was not true or relevant or congruent? Bummer! I hate “bate and switch” experiences.

Consider the following word association chart:

So…when it comes to your church facility, is it telling a story or a fairy tale?  Is it congruent with who you are?  Your vision? Your mission? Your culture? Or will people see your facility…then upon experiencing your interactions, worship experiences, first impression, and culture realize that it was just a fairy tale?

Tell me what you think.  Are your facilities telling an intentional story or merely a fairy tale?

Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

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