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Why Do Our Stories Matter?

A question I get from family, friends, and other church folk is why do I need to know my story, what will it matter anyway? In my humble opinion it matters to you and the people you love, it matters to someone who will want (and need) to hear it, and it can matter to the Church. Not to mention it’s one of the few things that Jesus asks us to do (Matthew 5:16 & Matthew 28:19). Quick reminder, Jesus is speaking to us lay folks here too, not just a collection of paid, educated, and ordained pastors and church staff. So, here are three reasons that I am convinced that your story can make a difference.
We need to remember who we were. The most important part of our stories as followers of Jesus is the transformation God made in our lives; the change in our lives from the person we were before meeting Jesus and then the new creation afterward with God in our heart. We can’t lose sight of our past because it shapes who we are now. Trust me, I get that our pasts have a lot of messy stuff that we would prefer to leave packed away in the deep recesses of our memories. But, if we lose sight of where we were and how God changed us, then our egos and pride will take us right back to where we started. Humility before God is the first step toward obedience and humbleness to our own story is our next step to following God’s plan for our lives.
Because someone wants/needs to hear it. Once God has taken charge of our lives, people will start to take notice of the changes in our attitudes and behavior even if they are subtle. At some point, someone is bound to comment on the new you and maybe even ask what’s new. This is NOT the signal to deliver a fire and brimstone TED Talk and drag your friend into the bathroom to baptize them in the tub. It is an open doorway for you to share your story about how God has made the changes in your life. And the response you may get is a simple “hmm,” and that’s OK. It could be the first of many conversations about God, faith, and church with your friend. That is why in future posts we will discuss the ongoing stories God is writing in our lives and when to tell them.
Stories are the only way to be heard above the static. How many emails do you receive every day? If you are like me, you probably have multiple accounts that average about 150 new emails or more per day. According to Cisco Networks, we are quickly approaching 1,000,000 minutes of video content moving across the internet every second! Now add the hundreds of texts and notifications we receive from all our digital apps and you have a level of static/noise/distraction that can derail the most disciplined time managers. The messages that we are most likely to hear and more importantly, retain, are the personal stories of transformation of real people. These are stories of breaking through obstacles, overcoming challenges, and beating overwhelming odds but they don’t have to be superhero, action-packed blockbusters. Our superhero is Jesus and he makes all our stories worth telling. Your church needs to know your story so someone, somewhere, sometime might hear it and take their next step to letting God transform their lives too!
It is ironic that we are in a time that our world could desperately use the teachings of the church and every year we see decreased attendance and thousands of churches closing. Some of our congregants grumble that all the pastor is worried about is growth. What we all have to understand is that we worry about numbers because every number represents a person and every one of these persons has a story. Our job as pastors, staff, volunteers, and lay people is to tell enough stories until one finally connects one of those “numbers” to Jesus!

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