Storytelling Week 1: It is God's Story



I began this series because we need to talk about evangelism.  When I say "we" I do mean my church here at Bethelview UMC but also the larger Church.  The Church, mainly in the west, has shied away from it.  We have many reasons for doing so but coming up with reasons doesn't mean much when it is central to our mission.  That being said, we seem to have a hard time doing a lot of things the Bible outlines for us to do as well.  

This is a much more personal approach for me, I like good stories and I prefer to be IN those stories.  It seems to me, we've neglected one of the most important ways we can evangelize and share the Gospel and that is Storytelling, telling others what God has been about in the world.  More specifically, I think the best thing we can do is learn to tell our own stories of God's Good News in our lives.

This makes the Gospel real and current.  It brings us back to the Gospel truth that we don't worship just a crucified Christ but a risen Savior, God incarnate who cares what WE face - TODAY.  My story right now is raw and very real.  My fears fight to overcome my faith.  I have struggled to be available to my family and meet their physical needs as well as the emotional and spiritual needs as my wife fights cancer.  This IS where telling our story matters because Jesus IS alive, God IS faithful and the Holy Spirit IS present - right now.

So welcome to Storytelling!  I pray God's Story is more real to you and you'll get active in your part of telling it!
 Philippians 2:4-114 Let each of you look not to your own interests (gifts/spiritual endowments), but to the interests (gifts/spiritual endowments) of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself,  taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.  9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.      
There is a story of a conversation between Jesus and Gabriel which is purely fictional, but illustrates a good point...
      ‘After Jesus ascended to heaven, the angel Gabriel approached Him and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there."
      "I did," He said.
      "And," continued Gabriel, "do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?"
      "Oh, no," said Jesus, "not yet.  Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know."
      Gabriel was perplexed.  "Then what have you done, to let everyone know about your love for them?"
      Jesus said, "I've asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell other people about Me.  Those who are told will in turn tell still other people about Me, and My story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe.  Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about My life and what I have done."
      Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical.  He knew well what poor stuff men were made of.  "But what if Peter and James and John grow weary?  What if the people who come after them forget?  What if way down in the twenty-first century, people just don't tell others about you?  Haven't you made any other plans?"
      And Jesus answered, "I haven't made any other plans.  I'm counting on them."’
                                               -- Lifestyle Evangelism,” Joseph Aldrich, p. 15-16

Evangelism is a scary word to most of us.  It brings ideas to our mind of walking up to some stranger or knocking on the door of someone in your neighborhood and asking them, “Have you met Jesus?” or “Are you saved?”  Even for those TYPE A, Extrovert People, this is intimidating.

The reality is most people who make decisions for faith in Jesus Christ do so because of the life and involvement in church with family and friends.  In his book, “The Unchurched Next Door,” Thom Rainer notes that 82% of people who are unchurched are “somewhat likely” to come if invited.  If that person is a friend, it is all the more likely. 

Paul’s letter to the Philippian church is an important one, and it remains so to this day.  I think one reason for this is the comparison he makes in the verses I read at the beginning.  Paul tells the listeners we are not to be concerned just about our abilities; our gifts, but others, and emulate those good things in our life.  But then in verse 5-6 he tells us, as God’s Son, Jesus looks at the Father, and sees the role he is to play, and takes on OUR form.  What does he show us in doing this?  Not that we try to be God but to walk the path of being a servant, a slave.  High and mighty is not the goal but humble and meek.

We are called to be storytellers.  We are called to tell God’s story in our lives.  We do not have to be knowledgeable in theological terms or in Hebrew and Greek.  One of the reasons Rainer gives for why Christians are not reaching those who are unChurched is because we don’t witness, we don’t tell God’s story. 

You have family and friends who are not going to church but who are wondering and wrestling with their faith.  There are also people watching and waiting for a genuine friendship to happen with a Christian.  Rarely is difference going to be made if your friend Earl meets your friend, Pastor Ken.  I too have a mission field of friends and acquaintances I’m working to reach.  What if you told God’s story to a friend?  What if we all did that, what if we all lived the story and told the story?


And that story is the story we tell everytime we come to the table.  It is the story of God becoming like human beings – same skin and same blood.

 ‘I have given you an example’ (Jn 13:15) and in whose footsteps we are to place our feet (1 Peter 2:21).” (Pg 95, Tyndale NT Commentary on Philippians)

What Next?

The acrostic FRAN, stands for friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors.  Think about one or two people in each category who you know is not engaged in a church or with God.  Write their first name down and start praying for them this month.  This week, simply pray for God’s best for them. 
Friends:
Relatives:
Acquaintances:
Neighbors:






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