I wrote new children’s book. This one is about and for my grandson, Jude. Hope you enjoy my reading of the book.
You can order a copy on Amazon here: Hey JudePosted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
Had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tracie Arboneaux-Gorham from the FB Group “Therefore, I create!”
We talked about my career as an actor and the recent books I have authored. It was a fun conversation.Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
I had the pleasure of being featured on The Story Blender, a podcast hosted by critically acclaimed author, Steven James. Some of his previous guests include international bestselling authors George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), Candice Fox, Steve Berry, Meg Gardiner, Sue Grafton, MJ Rose, and Robert Dugoni; comedian Bob Stromberg; Emmy-award winning writer John Tinker; and screenwriter Mark Bomback.
We are passionate about well-told, impactful stories. We love to listen to them. Watch them. Create them. So, we decided to talk with premier storytellers from around the country. Hear their stories and get their insights. From novelists to comedians to film makers to artists. Stories are told through a variety of people in a variety of ways. And here they are. The secrets of great storytelling from great storytellers.
I share some of my story and talking about some of the things that make live storytelling effective.
Give it a listen on their website at The Story Blender or on these podcast providers: PodBean, Spotify, or iTunes.Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
Lucy is the first child in my life to be in the “special needs” category. Oh sure, I had met other kids with special needs, but until Lucy, never really spent time getting to know them. The more I learned about Lucy and Kabuki Syndrome the more it became clear to me that she would be a child that would “stand-out” for her differences. The idea that her future would include being teased and treated cruelly by other kids began to sink in and frightened me.
One day my wife, Lorie, took Lucy to the park. While swinging on the swings another little girl, (at the park with her father) was staring intently at Lucy. Finally, she said to her father “that girl looks funny.”
Thankfully that father said, “Oh honey, I don’t think she looks funny, I think she looks beautiful.”
The little girl shrugged accepting that answer and went on with her playtime.
While this father handled the situation wonderfully, the fact is that there would not always be someone nearby to intervene at those teachable moments. I knew that this was just a glimpse of what would be a reality in Lucy’s future.
Then last year Mallory, Lucy’s mother, posted on social media:
“I have a rare syndrome,
I have a feeding tube,
I have a heart defect,
I have special needs,
But who I am is Lucy.”
And that was the inspiration.
As an actor, I am accustomed to playing a role—getting inside another person’s head. I imagined what Lucy would want to say to those people that looked at her, and all they saw was her differences. They didn’t see her, they saw the scars and what they perceived as defects. I believe she would say, “Those things aren’t me—Who I am is Lucy!”
While many people may consider this a good book for a child with special needs—and it is—the real target audience for the book is people like the little girl in the park and her father. And to be honest, people like me.
Available on Amazon: I AM LUCYPosted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
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:
“…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 amazon.comPosted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
I had the pleasure of bumping into my friend, singer-songwriter Jason Gray, last week. It was quite a fun coincidence. I knew he was coming to my town of Salem, OR for a concert on Sunday and we were actually hosting him in our home on Sunday night. Lorie and I were flying back from Dallas, TX on Friday and guess who was seated behind us?
I got to know Jason, before he became “famous.” We were both partners in a child sponsorship ministry several years ago and traveled together to Africa on a mission trip.
If you are a fan of his music, you know that one of the themes that Jason writes and sings about so eloquently is “weakness.” He makes the case better than anyone I know that God’s strength is experienced in our weakness. He uses his own handicap as an example. Jason is a stutterer. You don’t have to be around him very long to discover this. Yet, Jason is one of the best communicators that I know. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? He doesn’t try to hide it. He even makes jokes about it from the stage.
In addition to being an amazing musician, Jason is also a terrific storyteller. His stories reinforce his theme of weakness, as he shares openly and transparently about his own life. He makes the point that when we share our weaknesses and our failings with others, we are able to truly get to know each other better, like each other more and relate to each other honestly. He even quips from the stage about his stuttering, “now that you know that about me… I bet you like me just a little bit more.”
Oh how I need to be reminded of that. It is okay to have weakness, it is alright to share our weakness. In this age of social media, we spend way too much time trying to make ourselves “look good.” Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we put our lives under a microscope, yet work furiously to make sure people only see our best side.
I am inspired by people like Jason. I want to be more like him when it comes to being honest and transparent about my life. It is one of the reasons my newer presentations have been personal stories from my life. It has been freeing to tell my stories and to hear people afterwards thank me for being transparent and talking openly about my struggles and failures. Through that process they see that they we are not alone. (Check out Truth be Told…from a Guy Who Makes Stuff Up and Go Ask Your Mother…a Father’s Story)
Take a listen to one of my favorites of Jason’s. I think it is one of his strongest pieces and it is called “Weak.”Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
In my world as a itinerant artist, you often wonder if what you are doing really makes a difference. You get a lot of “good job,” “how do you remember all those lines?” and “thanks for sharing” comments. But rarely do you get to hear a real story of a life truly impacted or changed through the ministry/art that you present. But every once in a while you get a glimpse, a story comes back to let you know that something tangible happened. Such was the case at a performance of In His Steps in Arizona earlier this year. Writer, Tarina Lovegrove wrote about a performance she attended that was featured in Hometown Christian Magazine. I have included a portion of the article as a guest blog. Thanks Tarina!
Are we at church or at a grand theater? It was truly hard to tell. I was so blessed the day Chuck Neighbors visited my church and performed a one-man show entitled In His Steps for our small congregation.
For so many of you who were not at the service that day, you really should visit www.mastersimage.com and try to catch the amazing performance that was showcased that fine Sunday morn. If you’re like me, you’ll be blessed beyond measure with his example of the impact of having Jesus in your heart and what it can do for your life, your community and our world.
The first scene opens with Mr. Neighbors singing “I Can Hear My Savior Calling” as he begins his narrative in a role as Pastor Henry Maxwell. Neighbors establishes a solid foundation that sets the scene for the spectacular presentation that followed.
Shortly thereafter, he remarkably remains in character, not missing a beat, adds a wooly red scarf, scruffy jacket and old worn out hat to his wardrobe and literally transforms personas to now represent the second character on set, a homeless man named Jack Manning.
Now, Jack Manning appeared on stage and inherently in front of what was personified as the front of a church, which really hit home for me, as it ironically was exactly where I was seated at the time.
Jack Manning who was poor and quite ill, asked Pastor Maxwell in front of the entire congregation, exactly what did he mean when he said it was important to follow in the steps of Jesus.
The moment was quite fascinating because unbeknownst to me, my attendance at church that day literally transported me to another place and time. I was not only attending church, I actually became part of the cast of the play without even knowing it. It was brilliant!
And then it happened… Jack Manning began speaking to the congregation too. See, his character was a printer by trade who lost his job several months ago and had been brutally struggling ever since. His wife had died, his little girl was living in someone else’s home for survival and very few people cared enough to provide compassion, kindness or understanding toward the matter. Life for them it seemed carried on… business as usual.
The insightful Mr. Manning repeated that he was “just stating facts” when he asks his question about what Christians mean by following Jesus. Through his monologue, Jack Manning revealed there were nearly “500 men, many with families,” in this city in the same situation.
In his heart of hearts, he wasn’t begging for money or support, he was merely trying to understand how Christian people with homes, incomes, money, resources and security could fathom praising the Lord, singing mighty hymns of worship, living lives of luxury and then choosing to turn their heads and hearts when faced with the homelessness and needy population in their very own backyards.
The light bulb illuminated itself even brighter for me when Mr. Manning referenced there might not be as much trouble in our world today if the people who sang these songs also took action to proactively make efforts to eliminate the devastation.
There I sat… dumbfounded, with my heart in my stomach. Guilty as charged.
There are so many great lessons to learn from this astoundingly heartbreaking yet truthful showcase. I just don’t know where to begin.
In retrospect, I look at my life and I see the could-ah, should-ah, would-ahs… but that’s not going to get any of us anywhere. Each of us has the same opportunity, in this very moment, to make a difference. What will you do? Make a change or business as usual?
I know what Pastor Henry Maxwell chose to do in the play. I won’t ruin it for you, I promise. Watch the play… it’s incredible! It’s a drama just exploding with a tremendous message that could lead to fantastic impact across our great country, if truly taken to heart.
I know I was completely touched and will not soon forget Mr. Jack Manning, Mr. Henry Maxwell or the real man who brought them and several other great characters to life that day… Mr. Chuck Neighbors.
For details on upcoming events or how you can book Chuck Neighbors for your church or community event, please visit his website at mastersimage.com. He’s a phenomenal actor, director, storyteller and writer who has traveled across North America as well as 17 other countries around the world, providing thought-provoking material that shares the gospel, touches the heart and with your help, will create a ripple effect of kindness throughout neighboring communities around the world.
Thank you, Chuck Neighbors… for sharing the Word of Jesus Christ! God bless you, your journey and ministry.
You can read the rest of the feature article here: Hometown Christian MagazinePosted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
“It changed my life” is an adage that’s often repeated. There are certainly events that are life-changers: birth, graduation, job, marriage, children, death… and so many more.
But can just the simple hearing or reading of a story actually change your life? I’m not talking about making us laugh or cry, or evoking emotions of compassion or anger. Those are a given. I’m talking about tangible change that results in action. Change that makes someone do or live differently.
As a storyteller I have heard “life-changing” applied to my craft. I have often accepted the statement as a compliment, but not taken it too much to heart. I am not sure I really believed that someone was going to live their life differently because they heard a story I told them.
I decided to put it to the test. Could I actually point to life-change in my own life because of stories that I heard or read? Once I seriously considered the question I was surprised at how quickly the answers followed.
• It was through hearing and reading the Gospel story in my youth that I became aware of a need for Christ in my life. It was the added stories (testimonies) of other believers that convinced me to become a follower of Jesus, a change that resulted in me living my life differently.
• It was hearing the stories from a missionary to South America at a youth retreat in Michigan that I became convinced that I wanted to actually serve God as a vocation. One of the few Spanish phrases I can actually remember is the translation to a familiar song that he taught us: “He decidido seguir a Cristo” (I have decided to follow Jesus). I didn’t know the path I would take, but I have never considered a job for more than a brief season of my life that was not also a ministry.
• It was through first seeing plays as a kid and then performing them that I discovered my passion was to be on that stage as a performer. I wanted to tell stories like the ones I was seeing–I wanted to live them. It became the inspiration and motivation for me to find a way to combine my desire to serve God with my desire to be a performing artist. My first job after college was 10 years on the road with a professional touring theater ministry.
• It was reading the book In His Steps by Charles Sheldon that challenged me with the famous question “What would Jesus do?” Little did I realize that years later that same story would keep me awake at night–a still small voice saying “tell that story.” Later adapting that book to the stage has indeed been life changing. It launched my current ministry and set the course of my professional/ministry career from 1984 to this day.
I am still thinking through the question but these thoughts flooded in once I opened the door to the question, “Can a story change your life?”
My answer is without a doubt, yes!
Story really does matter!
Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
I often tell people I grew up in the church. It’s kind of a foreign concept in today’s culture…especially church culture. A church like the church of my youth is not as common today.
To “grow up in the church” meant you were either a PK (preacher’s kid) or one of the very committed that were at the church every time the doors were open. My family was committed. For me that usually meant at least 3 or more times a week: Sunday morning and evening services, Wednesday prayer meeting, and often a youth group function somewhere every other weekend. If you are reading this and thinking, “that sounds kinda Baptist” you would be correct.
Growing up in the church, like growing up anywhere, means you get used to routines that rarely change. Routines you take for granted. Routines that get so familiar you do them without really thinking too much about the meaning behind them. For me, one of those routines was Communion, or as we called it in our church, The Lord’s Supper (this was confusing to me as a kid because supper was an evening meal and we rarely did The Lord’s Supper at night).
In our church, as it is in many churches today, The Lord’s Supper consisted of crumbled up saltine crackers served on a metal tray and a half ounce of grape juice served in clear plastic serving cups. The pastor would recite the story of the first Lord’s Supper from the Bible and we would eat the cracker crumb and drink the juice at the appropriate times. It was a somber service in which we were to make sure we were “right with God” before partaking.
In movies I would see scenes of more liturgical churches taking Communion in various different ways, but they were obviously not the same ilk as the church of my youth, so I didn’t give it too much consideration.
Fast forward my life.
I joined a theater company that toured the country and did much of their work performing faith-based plays in churches of all denominations. It was a religious culture-shocking experience for me. I was on tour with people who professed to be Christian and many of them not the slightest bit like the Christians I had come to know in the church of my youth. I was now expected to perform plays about my faith in all kinds of churches, many of them also not the slightest bit like the church of my youth. It was in this environment that I experienced what I have come to call “My First Communion.”
It was in a church in Northern California. The service was much more liturgical than what I had experienced in the past. The pastor wore a robe. Kids called acolytes processed and lit candles. There were a lot of responsive readings with the congregation…all very unlike the church of my youth.
Then came time for Communion. I watched and quickly adapted to what the others were doing. We lined up and walked the aisle to the front of the church, knelt at the altar and waited with our hands cupped in front of us, my eyes frantically scanning right and left to make sure I was doing this right.
The pastor stopped in front of each person, spoke softly to them, and gave them what looked like a white round plastic disc, which the person ate. He the offered the cup, (actually a chalice) so each person could drink from it. (My first reaction to this way of serving the cup was “yuck.” I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to put my mouth were all these other people had just placed theirs.)
Finally it was my turn. The pastor handed me the plastic thing. Looked me right in the eye and said, “The body or Christ, Chuck, broken for you.”
Uh…wow…I was taken aback. He just said my name, I don’t remember his. I ate the plastic thing.
Then he held forward the cup and again, looking me in the eye, said, “The blood of Christ, Chuck, shed for you.”
In that moment, I was overwhelmed with emotion (and it had nothing to do with the fact that what was in the cup didn’t taste at all like grape juice). Suddenly this Communion just became transformative. No one had ever said my name during The Lord’s Supper. Oh I had heard that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, that he shed his blood for me…heard that many times. I knew it in my head. But for some reason hearing it like this, spoken directly to me in the context of this Communion service…well, it all became very real…very personal…it hit me in the heart. For the first time it really sunk in that He did it for ME!
Sometimes we need to hear things differently for the message to sink in, to penetrate our hearts. For me, this was one of those times.
The Body of Christ, The Blood of Christ…for ME!
On another note, this week I learned that a church board decided not to invite me to their church. I share about Jesus through storytelling and acting. This board didn’t think that I what I did would be appropriate for a church worship service.
It was something different, that they had never done before.Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments
I recently had the pleasure to meet Grant Norsworthy at a gathering of artists in Nashville. Grant is a musician, speaker and music/worship mentor (see info box below). We chatted over lunch about work and ministry and I was impressed with what Grant had to say about story and the bigger picture when it comes to worship. I invited him to write this Guest Blog. (Note: Grant is Australian so read this with the proper accent for the best effect!)
J.R.R. Tolkien is best known as the author of two GREAT stories: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Both stories are incredibly powerful and wildly popular. I wish I could say that I’ve read both numerous times, but I can’t. Like most people (I guess), I had to settle for the Peter Jackson directed screen adaptations.
I’m a fan of both stories, but I do find The Lord of the Rings to be far more engaging. What about you? If you’re like me and prefer The Lord of the Rings, we are not alone! The Hobbit has sold about 100 million copies, while The Lord of the Rings has sold in excess of 150 million. The Lord of the Rings movies grossed over $10 billion at the box office, while The Hobbit trilogy gathered less than $3 billion. All impressive numbers, but the difference is huge.
Both of these incredible stories – like any good story – describe a conflict and its resolution: An obstacle that must be, and is overcome. But while The Hobbit is about some greedy dwarves and how they get their treasure back from a dragon, The Lord of the Rings depicts the incarnation of absolute evil in Dark Lord Sauron and the war fought by the good beings whom he would seek to destroy and rule over. It’s the supreme struggle between good and evil! What could be more compelling than that?
Generally speaking with stories, the bigger and more overwhelming the obstacle, the sweeter triumph over that obstacle tastes. The more difficult the conflict, the more satisfying the resolution. Stories with BIG conflict and a correspondingly BIG resolution will make a BIG impact. They engage us like nothing else can.
The story of a person from an uneducated, deprived background earning a Ph.D. is more compelling than a 5th grader moving from a B to an A in mathematics. The story of escape from a Nazi concentration camp is more compelling than escape from a large, wet, brown paper bag.
The conflict that is resolved is bigger in The Lord of the Rings than in The Hobbit. That’s why it connects more deeply and more widely. But, to me, there’s a story far more important and powerful than even The Lord of the Rings!
I believe the greatest and most important story of all is of God and his created human beings – you and me – all of us. It’s the story described in The Bible. It’s the ultimate struggle of God’s goodness versus the evil of Satan – the devil. And it’s not just some made up story! You and I are characters in this epic, real-life, unfinished story.
In perhaps its simplest “elevator pitch” version, this great story’s central theme is worship. The plot? Having been rejected by His own creation in the Garden, God summons his beloved people to return to Him – to worship Him above anything else. He knows this is the only way that people will be able to truly live as we were created to live.
As God spoke through the first of His Ten Commandments:
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
But forces of evil stand in defiance against God and use all manner of sinister deception, power and influence to entice people to worship anything but God.
The story has always been about worship: The worship of God or the worship of something – anything – else. From the dawn of time to this very moment, there has always been a monumental conflict for humankind between the worship of God or Satan’s counterfeit, idol-gods.
But where’s the conflict and resolution in the Christian “worship” of today? Where’s the irrepressible attraction of the greatest story if “worship” becomes something that happens only once a week inside a church building designated by very specific, semi-passive activities?
With the imperative attraction of conflict and resolution removed from what we call “worship”, is it any wonder that many people turn away – leave The Church – or perhaps sit inactive and passive in a pew – unengaged, unmoved and uninspired?
And so, let’s expand our view of worship. Let’s move more deeply into the overwhelming, monumental conflict that is raging over our worship.
As we should have learned in school, the elements of story are:
The setting of worship is not just inside a church building. The war rages anywhere and everywhere we find ourselves.
We are all characters in this great story – not just the people with microphones on the platform, or in the stories we hear from The Bible.
The plot of worship is so much more than what happens during that hour or two on a Sunday morning. The plot is deep and wide and rich and woven through every facet of our lives.
And there is conflict. And there will be resolution to this epic, life and death – eternal life and eternal death – struggle of worship.
Therefore brothers, in view of God’s great mercy, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, and let that be your spiritual act of worship.
Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments