WHAT IS STORYTELLING?
Storytelling is the practice of sharing narratives, the cultural and social activity of celebrating diverse human experiences. Often, storytelling is a way to preserve culture, to instill morals, to teach lessons, to reveal truth to the listeners. The Christian tradition is dependent on storytelling – the Scriptures themselves are an example of storytelling, as the metanarrative of Scripture depends on the metanarrative of God. Prior to God’s story being preserved on paper, it was passed from generation to generation through an oral tradition.
Janet Yellen states that “stories create a bridge from the abstract to the practical.” This is vitally true: stories, and storytelling, are powerful tools to capture people’s experiences. They give us facts that cannot be captured in formulas, graphs, or statistics.
We each have a story, and stories, to tell – about ourselves, ourselves in relation to the world, ourselves in relation to each other, ourselves in relation to the Church, ourselves in relation to older generations, ourselves in relation to young adults. Pivot NW is interested in the stories you and your congregation have to tell. For example, here is an example that Martin Jimenez, Pivot NW Program Manager, gathered from his experience in his worshiping community.
WHAT KIND OF STORIES ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
We are looking for stories that encapsulate the vision of the Church for young adults, stories that give us a glimpse into the Church’s interaction with the generations.
- Any stories about how participating in the grant has affected your church, ministry, team, congregation, or even the greater community?
- A story that illustrates the urgency or need your congregation feels?
- A story that reveals a deeper question of congregational identity and how continuing with the grant may be in question?
- How has ideation, and the practice of ideating with those in your church been helpful? Successful?
- Success, failures, in the inclusion of young adults?
- Success, failures, in the participation of young adults?
- How young adults have changed you?
- How young adults complete you?
- How young adults have felt included?
- How young adults have felt alienated?
- Things that have worked well
- Things that haven’t worked
- Young adult feelings about the Church?
- Why do you think you congregation isn’t a space young adults want to be in?
- Vision for the Church?
- What has kept you away from the Church?
We want to hear the stories and specific experiences you have about your common search for God across different generations. We want snapshots of the human experience that you are in contact with in your church community. In short, we want the truth.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A STORY CHASER?
Being a story collector means being transparent. It is important that you preserve the truth and the stories that are shared with you. For instance, when you read a story from one of your congregants, do not change anything. Edit for grammar, but do little else. If you are recording someone or receiving a recording, do not edit out the person’s words, pieces of the story, or things that you deem to be irrelevant. Try to keep each story to about one page long, and once they are ready, send them to Lauren Pattie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOME TIPS TELLING A STORY
Some of you may be saying: why even tell us your story?
We want you to know that your stories and experiences matter. They are important, they are valuable, they are necessary. Your narrative and particular personhood are valuable, irreplaceable, unique, and beautiful. Truly, we believe that each and every story shared by each and every person is powerful, is worldchanging, is worth listening too. It may seem futile to you, and you may be wary of sitting down to type out your stories. We want you to know that there is innate value in your experiences, and the things you share may, indeed, change the life of your congregation as well as someone else’s.
- When you tell your story, be concise.
- Be vulnerable, drawing on your own experiences.
- Tell the truth. Be honest.
- Sharing your testimony is a powerful way to build the kingdom, inspire the kingdom, and allow God to work through your daily life. Revelation tells us that the devil is overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.
- It doesn’t have to be long! We’re not asking for a novel on the most personal and intimate details of your life and church experience.
RESOURCES FOR TELLING A STORY
From Pivot NW and Mark Yaconelli: