How to Use Your Own Story to Reach People

How to Use Your Own Story to Reach People

A Case Study of Discover Church in Philadelphia, PA

By: Kirk Hadden | Branding Case Studies Church Branding Communications & Marketing

Refine A Compelling Story

To reach the people in your audience, begin with empathy. Use the relatable parts of your experience to meet people where they are, and invite them to something better. To explain further, let’s look at how we did it for Discover Church.

Marc and Monica Poland, pastors of Discover Church in Philadelphia, knew church had to be different. Marc had often felt stuck in church, as if there were no clear path in front of him. By contrast, the business world afforded him an upward trajectory—he experienced the clarity of seeing his next steps from wherever he was on his journey. But even the business world wasn’t satisfying him. His career did not fulfill his deepest longings to understand himself, in the context of his own purpose. We used these key pieces of Marc’s story to help write the Core Story for Discover Church. 

Your own Core Story will help you cut through the noise and connect with the people in your audience.

What is a Core Story?

At ArtSpeak, we create stories for clients that tell the journey their target audience takes from unengaged to engaged. It’s a tool we use to help organizations focus their message to those they want to reach.

But where do you begin?

Gather the Best Parts of Your Own Story

What parts of your own journey will you use to craft your organization’s Core Story? Before you can get there, you need to know your story. First, write your story, or make an audio recording of it. Use questions to jog your memories, such as:

  • What moment stands out as a turning point?
  • How did you come to your current understanding of what ministry should be for you?
  • Who influenced you?
  • What made your journey of transformation difficult?
  • How was it resolved?
  • What have you experienced with Jesus that others should also experience?

Once you have your story, let’s dig for the pieces that will work best for your church’s Core Story.

The 3 Story Qualities:

  1. Relatable: They’re relatable to the people in your target audience
  2. Fears & Hopes: They connect to the fears and hopes felt by the people in your audience.
  3. Guide: They can help position you as a helpful guide for the people who you are called to reach

Let’s examine Discover Church as a case study for the 3 Story Qualities, starting with “Relatable”:

1. Relatable

Before we go any further, we have to identify who exactly is in Marc’s audience, just as you need to identify who is in yours. For Marc and Monica, they were best positioned to reach young professionals in Philadelphia, with children ages 4-14. This target was strategic for at least two reasons:

  • Marc and Monica are young professionals, so they can naturally relate.
  • According to certain statistics, ages 4-14 is the highest age segment which comes to faith.

The beginning of Marc’s Core Story goes something like this:

Have you ever felt stuck, wondering what’s next for you?

In my journey, corporate America afforded me opportunities to discover my next steps, and put myself on an upward trajectory. But the truth is, I chose to be someone else because I wasn’t sure who I was.

The relatability of the opening statement is clear. First, it’s all about the individual to whom we are speaking. Next, the listener is brought into an experience which he or she can likely relate to. 

2. Connect to the Fears and Hopes

We’ll continue with the next part of the Discover Church Core Story:

Sometimes the quiet moments reveal the truth: you don’t yet know who you really are, or why you’re really here. Maybe you shut out troubling thoughts with distractions, like most people do. If that’s you, we have an invitation for you. Stop wasting precious years of your life by not knowing who you really are, or what your purpose really is. God has something better, and we invite you to discover it.

Can you see the fears and hopes which may be felt by the people in Discover Church’s audience in the above paragraph? We’re addressing a fear of missing your purpose and wasting your life. But we’re not stopping there. We’re inviting people into a real relationship with Jesus which can bring real answers to those fears. By being mindful of the felt fears and hopes, we are ministering with empathy and compassion.

3. Helpful Guide

Here’s the rest of their story:

What We Discovered

Along the way in our journey, when God overwhelmed us with amazement, we realized that church had to be different. We realized that God had something better for us, and for you to discover.

Once you discover what you were made for, everything clicks, and you’ll say “I wish I knew this stuff sooner.” God has something next for you. He always does. We look forward to seeing you at Discover Church.

Marc and Monica had their moments of epiphany, in which they realized that things had to be different. This experience positions them as helpful guides for people in Philadelphia who face similar internal struggles.

Because Marc and Monica issue a challenge to their audience, (“Stop wasting precious years of your life…”) they can now be viewed as guides, or perhaps coaches. They have a way to help.

Roll out The Visuals

You’ve heard the expression. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Similarly, a visual brand can help abstractly communicate the right feelings for your message. 

Your visual brand amplifies the message already present in your Core Story. Your visuals serve as a response to the foundation of what you have to say to the people you are reaching.

For Discover Church, the visuals grew out of a response to these Pulse Words:

1. Amazed

– epiphany

– astounded

– awed

2. Hospitality

– warm

– welcome

– expecting

3. Kinetic

– movement

– energy

– motion

4. Passion

– energized

– vibrant

– radiant


– path

– future

– next steps

We used these image-generating words to drive the design decisions for the visuals. This way, the young professional families of Philly could experience the feeling of the message as they experienced the message.

So What About You?

Let’s write your story, create your visuals, and reach the people you’re called to reach. Together.

The best way to get started is through a free consultation with one of ArtSpeak’s branding experts. Fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch to get you started.