Tips on Preparing a Story

Tips on Preparing a Story

Here are the tips we share with everybody who tells a story at Gilead. With thanks to the many organizations and people we've learned from, like 2nd Story, The Moth, and folks including Scott Whitehair, Maria Vorhis, and so many others. 

These are just a few basic rules of thumb (and there are always good reasons to break rules, so feel free). Especially if this is your first story, think about how these might help give shape and stakes to your story, take what's helpful, and ignore the rest.

Tips/things to consider as you prepare:

  • We're aiming eventually for 3 to 5 minute written (or crafted) stories.  For most folks, that's in the neighborhood of 600 or fewer words.  
  • Scene-driven: think in terms of distinct locations and what happens in each place.  Something happens.  Scenes distinguish a story from an essay.  [More and more, I think this is THE KEY to good story-telling.  Let your audience do the meaning-making.  Guide them to it, with your edits and presentation, but don't unpack it for them too much.]
  • Stories that are written/crafted to be delivered, not just read. 
  • Start IN the action and set up the stakes:
  • If your story involves you climbing Mt. Everest, start with "The winds tore along the ridge; I checked my oxygen tank again" and later, bounce back to exposition.
  • Use dialogue as much as possible, especially to tell the audience things that would otherwise be exposition. 
  • You can count on your voice and delivery to do the adjectival heavy-lifting.  No need to say, "he stammered..." if you can deliver it, "H-he-hello!"
  • It's about you: a true story as you experienced it.  And you can leave out anything you don't want to share or that doesn’t serve your story.  No one is going to fact-check you.
  • Think about what your story is about (themes), beyond what happens (plot, facts). This helps keep you stream lined and edit out the stuff that may be good, but isn't necessary.

A Few of Our Favorite Things

A Few of Our Favorite Things

We're geeking out! Calling all former (and current) band geeks, theatre kids, Harry Potter fans, LARPers, and all you other kinda geeks: the ones who get SUPER excited about birds (ehem), or Little House on the Prairie (ehem), or Hebrew Bible (ehem! You know who you are). Whatever super specific thing floats your boat, and/or gets you to put on a costume, and/or leads you to accidentally give a little bit of a lecture at a party when someone casually asks you a question...that’s what we’re talking about this month.

 Why? Because it’s fun.
 
Why else? Because in a world that suggests we say “YES! to everything, geeking out requires a certain amount of saying NO. No to those other options, because the thing you really want to focus on is right here. No to going shallow and broad, and yes to going narrow and deep. (Also, maybe, maybe, there are some analogies to be drawn between all this and, say, feeling drawn to one faith tradition in a world of interesting, beautiful, meaningful traditions.)
  
We’re hearing and telling stories about the vulnerability of loving something deeply, and the possibility of being uncool. Stories about finding our people and being given permission to go way, way overboard. (Shark Week-themed snacks, anyone? Oh, yes.) Stories about the ways enthusiasm is contagious, and how we got “converted” to the stuff we now can’t imagine living without. (How did you get into dulcimer?)

Read the rest of this newsletter here
  

Parking in Rogers Park - UPDATE

Parking in Rogers Park - UPDATE

As of July, 2018, parking at the Field School is not available.

 

Parking in Rogers Park ain't easy, especially in the summer. If you're mobile on foot or bike or train, do that! For those who want or need to drive, there is relief:

Eugene Field School (at Ashland and Greenleaf) once again has evening and weekend parking. Double check signage, but for now: it's ON.

Pull into the parking lot from Greenleaf and pull all the way forward. From there, head east (left!) on Lunt until you hit Glenwood, just about a block away. We're at 7006 N. Glenwood, aka Red Line Tap, aka Buffalo Bar at Heartland.

Queering Church

Queering Church

God's Coming Out Story
 

There are lots of places in the Christian tradition (and others) where the revelation of God — God's introduction to humanity — goes something like this: once, a long time ago, God showed us who He was, once and for all. The end. Everything else that happened or happens, took place after that and God was the same static being (with male pronouns) for all time.

There are lots of other parts of the tradition (including, y'all, in the bible itself) where God, in an on-going way, reveals more and more of Godself. Conversations where God adds, "Oh! I'm also like this," and "Did I mention I'm not that into sacrifices but more into justice?" Places where God is a little extra and announces, "My spirit is everywhere! I cannot be contained with words! You cannot put me in a box! You wanna know my name? I am who I am!" A moment when God pours Godself into a human body and walks around doing what God does, showing people up close who God really is. Times and places where God pours God's spirit into human beings and says, "Now you run with it; you tell other people what I'm like."

As we kick off Pride month and our Queering Church series, we're gonna talk about the ways God continues to come out, continues to invite people to know who God really is — and how we are part of telling God's coming out story. (It's kinda also Gilead 101: incarnation, on-going revelation, us telling stories of the body of Christ when we tell our own stories. You know, the basics.)

So c'mon: bring somebody skeptical with you, why don't you. Bring somebody who wants to sing this amazing playlist. Sunday at 5 pm (at Red Line Tap, 7006 N Glenwood). As usual, kids are welcome, and so is anyone else you want to bring. Soft drinks are on us; booze is on you.

Read the rest of the week's news here

Gilead: Stupendous and Super Huggy

Gilead: Stupendous and Super Huggy

At the tail end of Party People, as part of the Surprise Party, Chad the Bird showed up to tell a story. Chad is Chicago's avian op-ed columnist, and the creation of Josh Zagoren. THEN, Chad put out a podcast episode featuring both his story and a little bit about Gilead. It's a pretty great snapshot of who we are, and a good thing to share with people who are like, "Wait. What's this bar-church thing you're part of?"

A snippet:

"'...real butter Christians. It's delicious. They sound delicious. And they were. Lovely room. Um, first of all, they meet at a bar, which I was, like, 'K.' ...So I walk in there and they're like, 'Hey, what do you wanna drink?' And I was, like, 'I dunno. What're you drinking?' And they were like, 'We've got PBR and shots of Malort for $5.' I was like, 'C'monnnn.'  So yeah, they just get drunk on happiness — and also beer." 

Listen to all of Chad's story and his take on bar-church here. (Worth listening. He calls us "stupendous, and super huggy.") 

Guest Taps

Guest Taps

There's a lot of good shit on tap at Gilead: our regular drafts of humor, wisdom (?), stories, and ideas are pretty damn tasty. But Gilead's not the only show in town. For that matter, Christianity's not the only show in town!

In May, we're heading toward Pentecost — that's the day the Holy Spirit showed up and made it clear that sharing good news with more and more people was gonna take all kinds of new translations, all kinds of new voices. So for the next three weeks we're celebrating new voices, new stories with Guest Taps, hearing from faith leaders we're excited about and want you to hear from.

Kicking it off is Jamie Frazier (aka Pastor J) of The Lighthouse Church of Chicago...

Read the rest of the newsletter here.

Party People!

Party People!

Our post-Easter theme is all about the Christian tradition of partying. You know that tradition, right? It's the opposite of fasting! It's the tradition that said, "God prepares a feast for all people!" (Isaiah 25:6 - 10). The tradition that tells stories about Jesus feeding people not just enoughbut sending them home with leftovers (Matthew 14 and, like, all over). And one of the big criticisms that Jesus got was that he partied too hard, too often, eating and drinking too much with all the wrong people. Count us in,please.

Our friend Katie Hays at beautiful Galileo Church in Texas does a bang-up job of explaining the theology of parties over here, if you even need further justification to party.

Here's YOUR invitation to party, from this week's newsletter (and poet Jack Gilbert):

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

from A Brief for the Defense 

Dance Dance Party Party

When we got together to talk about this new Easter season theme, Gilead-ites told stories about theme parties and costume parties, parties where they got to fulfill a dream of being elected prom queen, parties with neighbors and strangers, accordions and cotton candy machines. Many people there also shared that they "actually hate parties."

Well...maybe you've been going to the wrong kind of party? 

Read the rest of the newsletter here

Get your shit together: It's Lent, baby

Get your shit together: It's Lent, baby

Better late than never, here (for posterity's sake) is what Lent looked like this year, from our newsletter:

What time is it? Our calendars contain our whole lives. And not just in an "oh my God, if the app crashed, I'd be lost" kinda way. (Although that, too.) There are dates on the calendar that we share, for good or ill: Valentine's Day, Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day. And there are dates that are private, our own Feast or Fast days: the last time they kissed me, the night he died, the day of the accident. When I got the dog, when we closed on our place, when the funding for the new church came through (!)...

Read the rest here.

Look, Ma, I'm telling a story at a church!

Look, Ma, I'm telling a story at a church!

Gilead is a storytelling church that meets at Red Line Tap (7006 N Glenwood) on Sunday nights. We are super progressive, inclusive, and new — just about a yr old. Each week, we have at least two storytellers, telling short (4 - 5 min) stories. 

Our storytellers come from all over, and have all kinds of connections to Gilead. Many are friends, supporters, and congregants, others are Chicago-area performers, writers, comics whom we invite. We never ask (like, we don't care) our tellers if they're Christian or religious and many are neither. We don't ask tellers to say anything religious — unless their story is about religion. 

We do affirm that every person's story is sacred (whether it's about partying with the NY Giants after they won the Super Bowl or coming out) and so we say a very churchy thing after each story, that in some churches gets said only about scripture: "This is the word of God for the people of God." You don't have to think we're right about that; we just didn't want you to be surprised. 

We ask tellers to arrive at 7006 N Glenwood by 4:45 but other than that, it's wide open. Wear what you want, participate as much or as little as you want. No one will think anything one way or the other. You're totally welcome and we're grateful to have your voice in the mix!

We don't have any restrictions on language (except, obviously, anything hateful or disrespectful. We're a lot of LGBTQ+ folks and affirm everyone as they are). We are trying to cut back on f-bombs these days, but any language you've got that's integral to the story is fine with us. 

Tell the Story: Give Gilead a Year Two!

Tell the Story: Give Gilead a Year Two!

Gilead Church Chicago is a progressive Christian community in the Rogers Park neighborhood. We are an inclusive, LGBTQ+ affirming, creative church that is just celebrating our first year! Gilead exists to make beautiful worship, grow and share good food, and tell true stories that save lives. Watch the video for more of the story we're telling.

We hope you'll become part of our story and help us tell it for another year. If you're someone who believes there should be welcoming, meaningful, powerful church experiences for those who have been left out or left cold by traditional churches, give today and help keep Gilead going!

This year, as an incentive, we're offering thank you gifts for donations of specific amounts, while supplies last. Here are the thank yous we're offering:

  • $25 - a Gilead postcard, designed by Gilead's own Mat Schramm! Check out his great graphic design work here.
  • $50 - 1/2 ounce tin of homemade Gilead lip balm. There is a balm...
  • $100 - All new, limited edition, Gilead t-shirt. It reads: "Open and affirming, anti-racist, local, organic, slow-church, just peace, free range, real butter Christians". Design by Mat Schramm. Check him out here. When you email us your address, please let us know your t-shirt size and whether you prefer "female" or "male" cut (t-shirt company's binary, not ours).
  • $200 - A pair of Gilead pint glasses with our classic green logo and three core practices.
  • $250 - The whole shebang: postcard, lip balm, t-shirt, pint glasses, and our undying gratitude! When you email us your address, please let us know your t-shirt size and whether you prefer "female" or "male" cut (t-shirt company's binary, not ours).

How to Make a Church

How to Make a Church

From the first email of the year, looking toward our first birthday:

Gilead is (almost) 1!

This time last year, we'd never held a church service. We had no bank account. We hadn't set foot in Red Line Tap in ages.

But look at us now: we are supported generously by two denominations, the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and by your giving and presence.  You, friends, are making a church. We've had 54 storytellers; scores of pop songs; many gifted musicians leading us; [redacted number] of beers; dinners and parties and coffees and bread and wine and juice (when we remember it. Obvi)....

Read the rest here.

Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game

From the November 29th email:

On Sunday, we kicked off Skin in the Game. Until Christmas, we'll be telling stories about what we care about enough to put on our bodies (tattoos!) and what we care about enough to put our bodies on the line (incarnation!).

This Sunday — holy wow — we've got tattoo artist Ali Martin coming. During the service, she'll be using Inkbox ink to create work that'll last up to a couple of weeks. Even though all this week's spaces are full, sign up to be an alternate. And if there's enough interest, we'll invite Ali back on the 10th! So doooo it. [UPDATE: she's coming back Dec 10.]

Speaking of stuff we're invested in — skin in the game, money where your mouth is, etc etc etc — y'all crushed the first annual old fashioned, ironic church pledge campaign. Our goal was $25,000 in pledges, set up as recurring gifts. In fact, we're at $37,014!!! (No reason to stop there.  Wanna give? You can!)

Read the rest here.