20 Questions for Storytelling

Posted on July 18, 2010 by Global Mission Support

Marj Leegard (left) and Sue Edison-Swift in 1999.


I learned most everything I think I know about storytelling from theologian Marj Leegard (1920-2010).  In her monthly “Give us this day” columns in Lutheran Woman Today magazine, Marj would connect a “daily life” story to the Gospel story.  Missionaries are storytellers, too.  Their stories of daily life in international service illustrate, illuminate and inspire our “hand in hand” journey with global companions.

Earlier this month I met with new ELCA missionaries and gave them this list of 20 questions to prompt storytelling.  You don’t need to be a missionary to use this; we all have stories to share.  As you sit down to write your next devotion…or companion synod presentation…or Missionary Sponsorship column for your congregation’s newsletter…or a family holiday letter, ask yourself some questions.

20 questions to prompt effective storytelling

1.         Where’s the hope?
2.         Where’s the faith?
3.         Where’s the companion? 
4.         Where’s the growth?
5.         Where’s the thank you?
6.         Where’s the call to action (prayer, advocacy, giving)?
7.         Where’s the humility?
8.         Where’s the humor?
9.         Where’s the heart?
10.       Where’s the calendar connection (liturgical season, special days)?
11.       What’s to be learned (from vocabulary words to life lessons)?
12.       WIIFM?  What’s in it for me? Why should your reader care?
13.       Who would love this story (Sunday school children? Global Links committee)?
14.       How is this different from home?
15.       How is this similar to home (a small world example)?
16.       Who has inspired you? Helped you?
17.       How did you learn an important lesson?
18.       Who’s your neighbor?
19.       How does this illustrate God active in the world?
20.       How can I make this shorter?

–Sue Edison-Swift, July 2010
Sue Edison-Swift, associate director Global Mission Support, served as managing editor of Lutheran Woman Today magazine from 1988–2000.


2 Responses to '20 Questions for Storytelling'

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  1. Anne said,

    on July 19th, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Great list! One of my favorite Marj memories come from attending her WELCA triennial convention workshop on storytelling–she told everyone in that room, “You are writer!” So empowering.

  2. on July 20th, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s an ELCA homepage spotlight about Marj Leegard on http://www.elca.org through Sunday, July 25. This is a meaningful tribute to Marj and meaningful affirmation of Women of the ELCA participants, Lutheran Woman Today readers, Region 3/Northwestern Minnesota synod ELCA members, and the storyteller in all of us.