Get Me To The Church In Rhyme

I have recently developed an obsession for writing limericks. In addition to being a fun bit of wordplay, I discovered that they are a great model for telling a short story. (I have shared on this blog in the past several tips about writing stories and one post specifically about writing really short stories.) Consider this one:

Mark tried the new church down the street,

Sat in back, wanting to be discreet,

But they liked to hug.

He came down with a bug

And vowed never again “Meet and Greet.”

Notice how the first line establishes a person and a place. The second line adds a plot point and rising action. The third and fourth lines establish a conflict and climax to the story. The fifth line contains the resolution. Voila’—a short story in five lines.

I started writing limericks on the subjects of God, faith, and the church and began posting a “Limerick a Day” on social media. People found them not only clever and humorous, but some of them actually started great conversations about the subject matter…something a good story is wont to do!

Then I began to get this comment over and over again — “Chuck, you should publish these!”


So I wrote a few more, until I had over 50 and decided to explore options of publishing through Amazon…

And suddenly this is happening:

Get Me To The Church in Rhyme

Limericks about God, Faith,
and the Church
by Chuck Neighbors

“…so engaging and warm-hearted and downright funny. They’re close to being addictive—like those potato chips, there’s no way to read just one!” 
Chris Fabry—Author and host of Chris Fabry Live

They say “write what you know” and I guess I know a thing or two about churches. I have been in literally thousands of them in my 45-year career as a touring actor and storyteller. These are humorous, clean, and thought-provoking limericks on the Christian life. They are fun to read, quote, and share with others. This is a perfect gift for pastors and church leaders, and really anyone who as ever sat in a pew.

Get Me to the Church in Rhyme.
Limericks to read and pass time.
On God, faith, and church,
With a smidge of research,
And if you should laugh, that’d be fine!

Available as an ebook or paperback at

Why Everyone Loves a Good Story

Chuck Neighbors in Not The Way I Heard It

“I remember 1965—that was the year there was a riot downtown ….”

“Let me tell you about the snowstorm that I was stuck in….”

“We also had a sick baby and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong….”

I am learning something about people through my newest presentation, Truth Be Told… from a Guy who Makes Stuff Up. I am learning, or relearning, just how much people connect with personal stories. Normally when I perform one of my dramatic pieces, people talk to me afterwards with comments about the play and how it impacted them. All good stuff. But with “Truth Be Told” the comments are different. This presentation is my telling stories from my life, and people are coming up to me after the presentation and wanting to tell me a story. Sharing a story from my life has triggered a response in them to connect and want to tell their stories.

So what’s happening? Why do people want to tell me their stories? I think there are at least three reasons:

  1. Identification. When I tell my story, people are drawn in because they can relate. There is a certain amount of “been there, done that.” And they listen because they want to see if I did what they did in a similar situation, or how I handled it differently. They relate and connect because we hold certain details and situations in common.
  2. Authenticity. Because they identify with the situation, they are drawn to the truth of the story. I share the story and in a sense relive it before them, bringing all the emotion of the first time. In the process they see that I am a real person, not just a performer. Being authentic breaks down the barrier between speaker and audience, causing them to care about me and the things I care about.
  3. Validation. Because they identify and because of the authenticity of the story they have heard, they now have a sense that their story matters. Being real and vulnerable in the telling of my story has freed them to want to tell their own stories. And because they connected with me through my story, I am the one they want to share it with.

I am finding this to be very encouraging— the sort of response I was hoping for! In our current culture of instant and cyber communication, the sharing of story is at risk–replaced by the instant sharing of information. Not that there is anything wrong with all the social media… but in many ways it can become sort of anti-social. We run the danger of making our lives about the latest status update and in the process lose the art of really talking face to face with people and sharing our stories.

The art of telling your story is for everyone, whether as a performer, pastor, speaker or just a friend in a coffee shop, or sitting in a living room, or around the campfire.

When is the last time you shared a story from your life face to face with someone?

Invite Chuck Neighbors to tell his story and/or host a story workshop for your church or organization.

The Beatles LOVE – Cirque du Soleil, AMAZING!…

and yet it left me wanting….

Finally after all these years I saw my first Cirque du Soleil show. It was everything I had heard it would be and more. Every single aspect of the performance was flawless.  I am awestruck by the talent, the athleticism, the precision, the costumes, the lighting, the sound and the multimedia. It was sensory overload. In fact there was so much happening at once that it is impossible to take it all in! Where to focus my attention was a dilemma!

Knowing that I am in theater, some people indicated they were anxious for my critique.  If by critique they expect criticism, I have none. If they meant review, as I said, it was amazing and flawless.

Why then was I beginning to get restless during the final half hour of the 90 minute show?  I was surprised to find myself checking my watch.  I’ve puzzled this for the last couple of days and I think I know at least part of the answer.

  • After having my senses bombarded for 60 minutes I was actually starting to feel tired.
  • After 60 minutes I felt I had seen it all… a sense of “you can’t top anything you have already done.”
  • After 60 minutes I finally realized that this was indeed a circus and there would be no story, no climax, no resolution.

And that last point really says it all.  Being a theater person, I am all about story.  I forgot that this was a circus and for some reason I had the expectation that there would be a story. And yes, for those who have seen the show, there is a thread of story and characters to LOVE, but it is fleeting, and with so much happening, easy to miss. The show is many things, all good, but it is not about a cohesive story. Nothing wrong with that. You just need to know going in that you are not going to experience a story.

Would I go again?  Absolutely! But if given a choice of going to see a show that has story or variety show or a circus, I would probably choose story… but, then that is just the kind of guy that I am. Give me the choice of a good movie or a good concert, and I will probably pick the movie.  What about you? Are you a “wow me with an experience” person? Or are you a “tell me a good story” person? (Yes, I know  they are not mutually exclusive–one can also be wowed by the experience of a good story!)

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