What I would like to comment on is the concept of Christians and storytelling. Both Donald Miller and Ann Lamott are wonderful Christian storytellers. They know how to use story to proclaim the gospel. Though one would be hard pressed to find the narrowly-defined evangelical gospel in their stories, their stories preach the gospel nonetheless.
At the screening, there was time for questions one in particular struck me. One student asked how to pursue storytelling as a Christian. Miller's response, as best as I remember it was twofold. 1) start with story, study story, find out what makes some stories work and others not work. Start with story. 2) tell the truth: not the truth as you think it should be, not as Christian orthodoxy says it should be, but just tell the truth, speak reality, tell things as they really are, or really would be or could be.
I think Christian storytellers often get things backwards. They start with message, then formulate a story around that message. What is the result? Bad stories. Instead, start with story, and if you have a message in you, it will come through the story.
Interestingly, the next day I was reading a blog by Dr. Kirk, and he was also discussing the importance of story for Christians and the fact that sometimes we are so concerned with message that we forget it is about story. Here is an excerpt, but you should go read the whole thing.
The way that Winter explains Christianity’s failure in the entertainment industry parallels what I would say is its failure, overall, to understand itself. We have too often forgotten that our faith is a story. It’s not a statement.
We think that to tell about Jesus we have to give an atonement theory. The early Christians thought that to tell about Jesus they had to narrate his death: in Gospels, in a meal, in a baptismal ritual.
As Winter suggested, we should be the greatest story tellers of all. But before that will be true of us, we have to really start believing that the story’s the thing.So, I ask, are we concerned with the story, and are we concerned to tell the truth? Do we try to tell the story as it is, or do we try to make our stories line up with some preconceived notion of what "Christian" stories should look like, some orthodoxy to the stories we tell, an orthodoxy that rarely plays out in our real stories?