The Key to Connecting People to the Story of Jesus

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Stanley Williams, Ph.D — Hollywood Script Consultant, Filmmaker & Author

You have to see Cross & Light. It’s absolutely the epitome of Christian media, performance, talent, and craft. This will involve you, connect you, engage you, take you on a journey…and it’s absolutely a life-changing experience! The Cross and the Light should be on Broadway. It’s not just a part of the New Evangelization, it’s the heart of the New Evangelization!

The Art Of Storytelling

Stanley Williams, Ph.D., is a Hollywood Script Consultant, Filmmaker and Author. I like to think of him as a “story telling expert.”

Dr. Williams and his lovely wife Pam came to see Cross & Light in 2015. I ran into him after the show, and he was crying and could hardly speak. I was shocked to say the least.

He grabbed me by the shoulders and said:

Kelly, I was sitting there in my pew with my jaw dropped through the whole thing. I’ve finally lived long enough to see a Christian presentation that is worthy of it’s message . . . the Gospel presented in a church the way it ought to be presented. I am so thankful . . . I’m ecstatic. I’ve never seen anything like it. Thank God!

​I was speechless, and if you know me, that’s saying a lot! Ha.

The next day, I called Dr. Williams and asked to interview him on video so that he could share his thoughts about Cross & Light and other Christian media. He graciously accepted.

You can watch his interview here.

As we were filming the interview, it became very clear that there truly is a science behind the art of storytelling. And this scientific knowledge could finally answer the question:

Why is Cross & Light so effective?

The Science Behind The Art Of Storytelling

Simply put, our brains become more active when we tell stories.

We all enjoy a good movie, a great book, or simply having a conversation with a friend and listening to them explaining what just happened to them. So why are we so engaged when we hear a narrative about other people?

Let me give you two examples:

If we listen to a speaker with a boring powerpoint presentation, it triggers the language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. That’s all that happens, nothing more. End of story. Memories are not created, and that’s why it’s extremely difficult to learn in this way.

Now let’s take a look at what happens in the brain when we are listening to a story.

Things change dramatically!

Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too,” writes Leo Widrich of “If someone tells us about how delicious certain foods were, our sensory cortex lights up. If it’s about motion, our motor cortex gets active. A story can put your whole brain to work.

When a storyteller or actor tells a story about things that have really helped shape their way of life, they can have the same effect on the person who is listening to our story!  

The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton. “When the woman spoke English, the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains. Anything you’ve experienced, you can get others to experience the same. Or at least, get their brain areas that you’ve activated that way, active too!

Our brains are wired for storytelling!

Break down a story into it’s simplest form. What do you have? A narrative of cause and effect. And that’s exactly how we go through our day. Whether we’re picking kids up from school, making dinner, or landing the next business deal, we make up short stories in our heads all day long!

Now, whenever we hear a story, we want to relate it to one of our existing experiences.

That’s why metaphors work so well with us. While we are busy searching for a similar experience in our brains, we activate a part called insula, which helps us relate to that same experience of pain, joy, or disgust.

So that’s why Cross & Light is so effective!

​Dr. Williams elaborated more on this point in his video interview:

I don’t think most people really understand what Christ did for us. When you experience The Cross and the Light, the audience finds themselves on stage with these characters. Suddenly you become them. You identify with them. And you realize this isn’t happening 2000 years ago. It’s happening right here and now. It’s only when we emotionally engage people that they remember things! Without an emotional engagement, there is no memory! It’s the telling of stories and the truth that those stories communicate that changes our lives.

So when you experience Cross & Light, you are witnessing first hand:

  • Jesus’ love for us in the Last Supper
  • His agony and fear in the garden
  • Peter’s guilt and shame when he denies Christ 3 times
  • The Blessed Mother’s trust in God and her grief at the foot of the cross
  • And then . . . when you experience the joy of the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday, you will rejoice like never before!

No wonder Cross & Light continues to change hearts and lives wherever we go!

Does the Environmental Projection component help to engage the audience as well?

Throughout the 90-minute performance, cinematic video imagery is projected onto the walls 150-foot wide by 30-foot high in concert with our live singers to create an immersive faith encounter.

Dr. Williams weighed in on that part of the production as well:

The Video Projection is so cool . . . it’s art upon art. When you take the mysticism of the architecture of the church, and then you layer that with other sacred images of stained glass, the cross, the cup . . . it forces me as an audience member to work and say to myself, ‘Oh my goodness…look at that and that . . . what’s that over the crucifix on the wall.” When they have to figure that out, they get emotionally and intellectually engaged and suddenly the performance makes a connection. Memories are created. And people get it!


​As the creator and writer of Cross & Light, I had no idea that there was a science behind the telling of Christ’s story. I just approached each scene in prayer and told the story the way God put it on my heart. I’m just glad God is such a good storyteller!

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