We live in a world of stripped-down and get-to-the-point narratives.
We’re broken down into 140-character status updates and photo captions that slice our days into play-by-play freeze-frames. On the television, it’s not much better. News stories that are over almost before they’ve started give us the what, but very seldom the why. MTV set the tone 25 years ago when they shortened the average video edit down to three seconds. Billboard advertisers know that if their message takes more than two seconds to read then it’s too long.
This goes beyond media. Think about all the things in this world that we demand to have fixed immediately. Things that just aren’t possible to fixovernight. Or even in a year.
We live in a fast-paced world. I get that. But I also realize that we’re a people who get impatient with microwave ovens because two minutes is apparently too long to wait for our dinner.
The problem is that this need for the quick and immediate is causing us to lose the intricate beauty of the long narrative. Any gardener will tell you that a tomato tastes better that’s been hand picked from a plant that was a tiny seedling he planted two months before. It’s better because he got to be a first-person witness to its slow development from a bloom into a plump and juicy fruit. Biting into it was only part of the joy. The experience exists beyond its flavor.
Consider this in your ministry. We often want quick fixes and get-to-the-point teachings that reflect the culture we exist within. But as you tell your story, I ask that you consider the long narrative as option. Good stories need good characters and conflicts to overcome. They need the excitement generated over a quest to gain something truly important. Every one of those characteristics is found in that Bible on your shelf. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that telling the world’s greatest story deserves the time it takes to tell it well. Don’t think for a moment that people won’t respond to a well crafted tale. Consider how many times you’ve witnessed even a young child curled up on a couch with a thick book encountering adventures with dragons and great battles.
The trick to being a good storyteller is remembering your job is to guide the reader through the wilderness and constantly giving them reasons to follow you along the path.