Growing up, my local church would bring in a missionary couple once/quarter on a Sunday evening to present to our congregation about the work that they’re doing. Some were working overseas, others domestically. Either way, though, the format was the same.
My pastor would come on stage with his tie a little looser, and I could just sense it was coming. Nap time.
He’d give a brief intro, then have the congregation welcome the missionary couple to stage. They’d give a few words in another language, thank us for having them, hit the lights and queue the slide show. For the next 45 minutes, they’d scroll through slide after slide of pictures of huts, out-of-focus large-group pictures, and lots of “um…what is that, honey? Did you take that picture?”
And then I’m sure they said something after that, but I never caught it. I was enjoying my nap.
Part of me felt guilty, though. The most boring services of the year were the ones where someone who had given their life to serve others, and taken the Gospel to the most difficult areas of the world, were presenting.
But it wasn’t my fault. I had no reason to feel guilty.
It was the missionaries’ faults for being dull.
Dark rooms and pictures of people nobody know rarely inspire a room. Especially when you’ve got a 7 year old in the room.
If you’ve got a story to tell (and, presuming that you’re reading this, you’re alive, which means you do), tell it with gusto. Tell it like your life depends on it.
More accurately, tell it like someone else’s life depends on it. Because it does.
God uses other people to call us out of our normal existence and sweep us into the fuller picture of who He’s calling us to be and what He’s calling us to do. Rarely do moral platitudes do it. Ever more rarely do condemning opinions and judgments. Stories change the world. Stories shape ministries.
It was a story that helped shape my ministry. Over the course of 2 years, I listened to the story of a guy a few years older than me share his story of being called to ministry. I was 15, and it was his story that shaped the community I was a part of. Out of that community, 4 men are serving in full-time vocational ministry.
You’ve got a story to tell, so tell it. Share your pain, your frustrations, your disappointments, and your victories with those whom God’s given you the gift of building a relationship. Share it often and share it well.