May 29, 2017


StoryBox – A Discipleship Tool

Rudy Hartmann shares StoryBox, a tool he developed for discipling students based on concepts from Dhati Lewis’s book Among Wolves.

Have you ever had a student come up to you and say something along the lines of:

“I don’t know what God’s will is for my life.”
“I think this is what God wants, but I’m not sure.”
“Is God calling me to this?”
“How can I know what God has made me to do?”

I have no doubt whatsoever that these are questions you’ve faced. College students are pining for purpose. They want to tackle a mountain top. They want to know what God wants them to do!

Our students can look around and see so many broken things and busted places. They can see so many ways to invest their lives in those around them  – And there’s a level at which it seems overwhelming. Should they leverage their lives for refugees? The outcast? The poor? For diversity? For Racial Reconciliation? For the Campus? For the community? For church planting? What about International Missions? Maybe stewardship? Maybe a cultural leader in the workplace?

So how can they know which one is for them? How can they know what God has designed them for?

So often it seems like the perception in some of our students is that this has to be some mystical, magical moment of crystal clarity. That there has to be some emotive moment in which the Holy Spirit tinglies are firing on all cylinders and they suddenly come to a point of realization – no, revelation! – and BOOM instantly know God’s will for their lives.

Yet, many students may never have “that moment.”

So what do we do? I’m glad you asked.

“StoryBox” is a tool and conversational guide that was developed off a section of Dhati Lewis’s book Among Wolves. It all roots off of this one idea:

If we can help students reflect on the stories being written around them, they’ll begin to see how God’s written them into His story.

The StoryBox consists of four boxes representing four stories: God’s Story, My Story, Our Story, and the City/Campus Story.

To give students space to reflect on these four areas and see where they overlap gives them an opportunity to see how God has specifically placed them by pulling them up to a thirty-thousand foot level. Storyboxing simply starts the conversation. What follows is a walkthrough of the four boxes. This can be an equipping tool for your leader meeting or a one-on-one conversational guide on a napkin in Starbucks. You can draw the boxes, or just used them as references to guide the conversational questions. Ultimately, the goal is to point these students toward the overlapping areas and for them to glimpse what God may have given them a passion for in writing their story.

StoryBox Walkthrough

Box 1 – God’s Story

What is God’s Story? (Read scripture together and walk through the Biblical accounts of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration)


Box 2 – My Story

What is My Story? (What’s your family like? Your friends? What do you do for fun? Tell me about your Faith – How you heard the Gospel, what you were like before, how you’ve changed?)

Box 3 – Our Story

What is the Vision/Mission/Values of the church or campus ministry you’re a part of? How have those shaped the student? (Back home and presently a part of.)

Box 4 – City & Campus Story

What is the vibe of the city? Of the campus? What are the needs? How can they be met?


Where is the overlap? (Help them see where these four stories share overlap. The shepherding through this exercise of awareness could really help them see how God has wired them!)

This tool was created to make this conversational process of StoryBoxing simple. Use it in whatever way is helpful for you! My hope is that this tool helps your students like it’s helped some of our students in Des Moines – by helping them see the bigger stories they’re a part of and trust the way that God is writing their story.

about the author

Rudy Hartmann

Rudy Hartmann is a church planting candidate with the Salt Company in Ames, IA. He previously served in college ministry in Tampa, FL.

  • Brian Barnard

    Hi Rudy,
    Have you ever seen YFC’s Three Story ?
    (btw-They also have programs called City Life and Campus Life.)
    Very very similiar concepts. Do you know if Lewis expanded upon their ideas or do they both draw from another source?

    • Brian Barnard

      And what college ministry did you serve in?

      • Rudy

        Hey Brian!

        First, thinks for reading this, for asking these great questions, and for being a part of the Collective tribe!

        I apologize for my tardiness in responding, as I’ve been overseas for the last few weeks. I had actually never head of YFC’s Three Story and don’t have access to the book to see if he references YFC. I don’t believe he does. In his rendition, he only says “City Story” for the last story – I modified it to “City and Campus Story” for the sake of contextualization. I’ll have to look more into YFC3S. (I’m a huge fan of the Venn) That sounds fascinating and I’d definitely be curious to see if there was a primary source that influenced both. I’ll have to look into this!

        As for me, I started a college ministry out of a local church reaching USF in Tampa, FL after graduating. I’m now a part of the Salt Network in the Midwest, have nearly completed my first year in Ames, IA with Salt Company, and will be moving to Des Moines when I return from this trip to join the staff of one of our network plants as the SC ministry director.

        What about you? I’d be curious to hear about your context as well!

        – Rudy

        • Brian Barnard

          sorry its been so long… YFC for 8 years… then a Christian alternative school… now a Christian homeless shelter… next probably back to my first love of youth ministry again…