By Pastor Jenna Couch Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee
Share Your Story
I just recently returned from a Youth Ministry conference in Detroit, Michigan. It was called the Youth Ministry Extravaganza and put on by the ELCA’s Youth Ministry Network. The theme this year was “Story,” and many of our speakers spoke about the importance of stories in our lives; especially when it comes to our faith.
During the main group sessions, many speakers shared various stories with us just for fun, about themselves, and about the Gospel. Throughout the four day conference, we worked through the entire Gospel of Mark as it was told to us in story form. What a wonderful way to hear the Gospel! I sat there and listened to the different stories that were being told throughout the weekend. I was mesmerized by how others’ stories drew me into their experience.
Stories are powerful means of communication. Walt Wangerin, an author of several books, was one of the speakers at this conference.During his presentation, he said that through stories, the people listening experience the story in some way shape or form. In rational conversation, communication lives in the mind. It has less impact. Stories draw us in to experiences because there are usually emotions involved in the story. When we can feel the story, it has more impact. Another speaker at our conference pointed out that Jesus knew that experience + relationship = story. Think of how often Jesus talked in parables. They were short stories that had a point to them and drew people in. There are few greater gifts in this world than offering people a space to share their story.
So many times I think we forget that the Gospel is in fact a story. It is a story about God’s amazing love for creation, even amid and despite our disobedience and mistreatment of others. It is a story about a love so strong that God decided to enter into the story through Jesus and dwell with us in it. We are part of God’s story. How do we share God’s story and our story to others in a way that draws them in?
I’d like to encourage you to find ways to share stories with others and to listen to others’ stories. Stories are an incredibly powerful way to experience God. How is God with you in your story? How will you share God’s story with others? I’ll be sharing more about stories in the next couple weeks!