The Church on the Move creative team has never been the type to tell one singular story line during their service. Instead, the way they create is with the goal of creating a mirror for people to hold up to their lives and see themselves in. Moments of pain or celebration are things most people can relate with.

Christmas in particular was about what they were feeling in the church and figuring out how to make that a corporate experience for the whole congregation.

Because of this, they wanted to tell many different stories and in different ways to make sure that the attendee could see themself in the service.

In planning the service, they had a few main story moments they wanted to accomplish. The first, and biggest, was a video they created to show how Church on the Move had been able to impact their community and different ministries (locally and internationally). This reflected a big movement throughout the year to get their small groups involved in serving and giving to their community.

Another big story they wanted to tell was a personal story from Chris Munch. Chris’ role on the team is vague—he says so himself. He’s a humorist, storyteller, segment producer… He just helps connect with people emotionally. He started his little storytelling segments earlier that year, and they knew they wanted a Christmas story from Chris for the Christmas Eve service.

This particular story was something that had happened in 2013. He was originally intending to tell the story for the 2013 Christmas services, but it wasn’t coming together. Then when they were planning for 2014, Chris revisited the story and it was much clearer for him. He told it from the humorous angle of those horrible gifts we all receive during Christmastime, but turned the corner into the serious heartfelt moment when he began talking about a gift his recently passed grandmother had given him. Check out the story if you haven’t seen it yet.

They were developing those two big stories—along with the traditional telling of the Christmas story—but they were really feeling like they lacked a story that could drive home something big. They were filming the video about Church on the Move’s giving throughout the year, when someone sent a YouTube video to Whitney George. It was a homemade testimony video from one of the COTM attendees.

As soon as Whit finished watching the video, he texted Angie Woods. “Watch it now!” She took a break from the shooting and gave it a look. She knew at that moment that they would be including Derrick’s story in their Christmas services. Watch the video for the story.

They hadn’t been planning on making this video, so it was sort of a last minute thing. Angie texted the whole team to meet in their conference room. Then they all watched it and decided it was something they had to do. It was a big point of tension in the process, but they knew filming the story for the service and putting it together would be great. It would be such a pivotal moment during the service. It would even do most of the preaching for Pastor George. So they made it happen.

For the team at Church on the Move, stories are really important. Whether through sketches, videos, or live spoken word moments, they always want to include some sort of story in their services.

Chris Munch describes their storytelling goals like this:

“I always try to move someone in some way. Through laughter or crying…if I can do both, that’s the sweet spot for me. That’s what I’m interested in doing. Laughter has a power to disarm and unite a room. You can feel it. When people are having a great time, there’s a sense of oneness and openness to listen to what you’re saying. When I’m connected with the audience, that’s the perfect time to speak truth.

I generally start with something fun or funny, then turn a corner and say something real. The goal is not just to entertain. I want to say something that impacts.

It’s easiest to share about myself. I share from my heart with humility, vulnerability, and transparency—usually my struggles and difficult times.

What a lot of people fail to do in the church world is be personal. It’s easy to glaze over ideas and speak in generalities. But it’s important to think through the personal element of something like ‘God is good.’

I heard a quote at the Willow Creek Arts Conference that said it so well: ‘That which is most personal is most universal.’

If it’s personal to me—something like taking things for granted and not taking a step back and saying ‘wow my family is here with me’—I can trust that other people will feel the same way.”

Here’s the take home for you and your church this Christmas season: Focus on telling personal and real stories this year during your Christmas service. Add humor, make them fun, but be sure to turn that corner and say something real too.