Tell the Story!

For the next few days, I am meeting with my co-author to review our editor’s recommendations for Chapter 6 on Yeshua. In addition to all the typographical and grammatical corrections, Michael (our editor) has written extended notes about matters of content and flow. The best was comment was left in a note appended to the page:

As we read the note, we both broke out in laughter. Our editor had nailed us! We hurried and made a poster to hang over our work desks:

How easy it is to want to preach about those matters that we care so deeply about. Matters relating to faith, spirituality, and religion are among the most deeply held. Sometimes we preach with words. Other times it is a shrug of the shoulders, a scowl or a full-face grin. We preach when we argue with others and when we walk away. We preach by those we associate with and those we don’t.

As we thought about it, an idea arose. As seminary trained ministers, we wondered what kind of leaders for church ministry would be produced if the very first day of seminary education confronted students with this statement: We are going to train you on how NOT to preach but, instead, to be a crafter of stories. For your first semester, you will listen to stories being told. You will research story-tellers and story listeners. You will learn to craft stories with words (both prose and poetry), with paint, with clay, with creative dance, with song, and in conversation. Perhaps you will find new ways to craft stories through gardening or cooking or … For the rest of your seminary education, you will learn how to listen to the stories of scripture and how to re-craft those stories for listeners today. You will be challenged to transform the great theological concepts into stories that children, youth, and adults can relate to. In short, your seminary education is all about transforming you into a story and a story-teller.

When you complete your seminary education, you will take your story-telling on the road—most likely to a congregation. As you tell them the intersection of your story with the biblical story, they will begin to trust you with their stories. Then, together, you will carefully tend to the laboratory of the living word (a story laboratory) that engages the world’s stories with the openness of the Gospel’s story.

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