Our church celebrated our 100 year anniversary and as an initiative for our centennial year we had the goal of having 100 women share their stories of God’s grace, redemption, and healing. To be honest it seemed in the beginning like a great way to creatively highlight women in our church, but what I didn’t expect was the deep encouragement, joint mission, and growth that would come from the simple ask of “Tell me your story.”
As I read google form entries of marital abuse, past abortions, the tragic loss of children, and the seasons of battling loneliness and depression, the faces of women that I had brushed shoulders with in the church lobby week after week came to mind. In their own words, they grieved and then celebrated how God had met them, healed them, protected them, and is now using them to be lights in the midst of darkness.
Stories Connect People.
In learning the stories of some of our women it gave me the opportunity to connect them with other women who have been or are walking through similar circumstances. This is 2 Corinthians 1:6 in action. “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you.” In our churches we have walking reminders of hope, perseverance, and faithfulness. One instance of this was getting to connect a young woman in our church whose husband had an affair and left her and her children with an older woman who had walked through the same situation two decades earlier. They have met for coffee, prayed together, cried together, and both been so encouraged to see God’s provision.
Stories Remind Us To Not Put God In A Box.
There is a temptation for all of us to approach church and evangelism with a checklist that is dependent on our own talents and efforts. When we hear how God is working and moving through different circumstances and how he uses different means to bring someone into a relationship with Him we begin to look at things differently. Suddenly a worship song, or a 10 minute conversation at the checkout counter, or the invite that was finally taken to join a friend on a Sunday morning becomes a display of God’s grace and pursuit.
Stories Grow Our Awareness & Healing.
In a world of polarization we can often categorize people in a number of different ways and rarely choose to take the time to actually listen, learn, and lean into the why and how they got to where they are. When we take those steps to get to know the person instead of operating out of assumptions we grow in compassion, joy, and empathy. Additionally, those that tell their stories and are met with grace, compassion, and understanding. In sharing the stories of our women we also communicated to everyone listening that the Church is here and ready to meet you in your current need. For both the storyteller and the listener we get to foster a culture of safety, forgiveness, and healing for one another.
Stories Rally Our People Around The Mission of God.
Reminding our people of “The Why” is what motivates them into movement and investment. Many of us are struggling with volunteer recruitment and last minute registrations. Post-pandemic ministry no doubt looks a lot different and we are still trying to figure out so many aspects of ministry and leadership, yet in the midst of those questions our mission and purpose is still the same; Loving God and loving people. This is why I love The Hope Initiative that Dr.Chuck Lawless is leading so many of our churches in.
As you look ahead to a new year with new opportunities and challenges I hope that you will integrate the stories and celebrations of what God is doing in and through your people. Maybe that is through a 100 stories campaign, or a weekly bulletin highlight, a special event with tacos and testimonies, or a special baptism Sunday. Profound joy, hope, and encouragement comes from the simple words, “Tell me your story.”
Ask, and then go and tell of God’s wondrous works.
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:8-9 NLT
Posted on December 2, 2022
Jacki C. King is a respected and popular Bible teacher, conference speaker, and ministry leader. She has a passion for seeing women fall in love with Jesus and His Word while challenging them to be on mission in their homes, workplaces, and communities. Jacki is a native Texan who now lives in Central Arkansas with her husband Josh, who is a Lead Pastor, along with their three boys. Jacki holds a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies and Ministry to Women from Criswell College and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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