Are you a storyteller? Of course you are. We all are. We naturally share the stories of what’s going on in our lives – the illness, the home improvement project, the cute thing the grandchild did! Stories are part of our daily life: a bedtime story, the plot of a book or movie, the day’s happenings described over the dinner table; memories shared when the family gathers at Grandma’s — they’re all stories.
Stories catch and hold our attention. They encourage and move us; they teach and motivate us. A family’s stories unite them in shared history, values, and experiences.
When we intentionally gather and share stories of serving at church, the results are powerful.
Good questions bring out stories.
When you’re with other church volunteers, don’t just talk about the task or the weather. Seek out stories about serving. A story is any experience, thought, or comment about what happened while serving or how a person was impacted. Good questions will bring out those stories. What’s been happening lately in Sunday school? What do you like about being an usher? What led you to say yes when asked to serve? What good stuff is going on at your team meetings; in your ministry?
Leaders, do this several times a week! At every meeting, ask each participant to share something good they heard or saw around church. Pastors, challenge your staff to bring a story to every staff meeting. Recruit others to ask for stories. Those with journalism skills are especially good at interviewing ministry leaders or long-time volunteers. Pictures tell stories, too. Invite those who love photography or videography to highlight your Nursery or men’s club. Your high school and junior high kids would love to put photos into a PowerPoint presentation.
Be sure to share every story you gather with a dozen or more people. Share them in everyday conversation. Include a comment or brief incident in every email to your group. Include them in devotions, meetings and reports. Put them on your website, in blogs and social media. Pastors, watch for stories that illustrate your sermon message. Powerpoints and videos can be shown on a screen or an iPad in the lobby, on your website, or in worship. (Of course, get permissions, follow the laws and use common sense and sensitivity when sharing stories.)
Connect our stories to the greatest story.
Use stories a lot rather than a little and two things will happen. First, it will decrease the odds of people feeling uncomfortable about being highlighted, or upset at being left out. Second, it will snowball; others will start sharing stories, too!
Stories are especially powerful in shaping our church’s culture. If we want to equip people to serve, the culture of our church is just as important as, or perhaps more important than, our programs and systems.
Connect the stories
All our stories about serving connect us to the greatest story of service, the story we share every week at every church. Jesus served us by becoming human, receiving the sentence of death that we deserve, and giving us his own resurrected and eternal life. We serve others because he served and serves us. When we serve others, he serves through us. All our stories of serving lead to His story.