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What was your favorite story growing up? For me it was Where The Wild Things Are. There was something magical about going away to a magical island to be wild and free. As I’ve grown older I find myself mostly reading books filled with facts, systems and practical information. I use those books to help me with ministry; however, I sometimes need a break. So, whether it’s fiction or not I’ll pick up a good story from time to time and get lost in it’s beauty.
I know I’m not alone on this because no matter what type of reader we are, we crave story. It could be a story from a movie or video game. It doesn’t matter because we need story because it connects us. Story connects us to our dreams and it connects us into relationships.
As youth ministers we need to share to our teens the story of Jesus Christ; however, that’s not always as simple as opening up a Bible and reciting scripture. Sometimes we need to take a step back and:
- Share Our Story – We all have a story to share. Whether you grew up in the thick jungles of the Amazon or suburban Chicago, your story is filled with meaning and truth. But, we hold back from putting it out there because it makes us vulnerable. It makes you vulnerable to how people view you, it reveals old wounds, it means admitting where you’ve fallen and triumphed. Our story is fragile; however, it is important to tell because it can be the gateway to introducing someone into a relationship with Christ. If they can trust you because of their story, they’ll trust you when you share the one of Jesus Christ.
- Give Them God’s Story – While sharing our story is important, eventually we need to share the story that God has given us. Granted you don’t have to look at the Bible as a story (there are so many different analogies); however, when you do make sure you share with them the richness it holds. That might mean giving them the context surrounding a situation described in scripture. Giving them God’s story doesn’t mean just handing them a Bible, it means helping them navigate and know it.
- Invite Them To Be A Part Of The Story – Many times we hear a story and we say to ourselves, “That’s great, but that could never be me.” If we just teach the facts or the Bible and never invite teenagers to be a part of the story than we are wasting our time. Our goal as youth ministers is to connect teens into a deeper relationship with Christ. If a teen has never done that before it can be intimidating and overwhelming. When you invite your teens to become a part of a story you can serve it up as an invitation to break the ice or as a challenge to stir the desires they might have been hiding deep inside. Every time you meet with a teen to share a story you need to be answering the questions:
What do I want them to know?What do I want them to do?
- Encourage Others To Share Their Story – While your story is awesome, it’s not the only one they should hear. If your ministry has you speaking all the time, your teens are missing out on how many lives God is really touching. Invite your adult volunteers to share their story, invite the teen leaders to testify and even search for the stories of men and women who have accomplished great things in the name of God. When they see others sharing their story, they’ll be encourage to tell theirs.
When you embrace the power of story in your ministry, you’ve discovered a key step to building relationships. Stories break down barriers, they build up dreams and fuel people to take bold steps. For us, it’s not just about laying down the facts, it’s about sharing why they are there and how God wants us to use them to do great amazing things.
How do you share story in your ministry?