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Being a Storytelling Church

I love a good story. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by storytellers.

Sometimes, they were old favorites that family members had shared dozens of times—like the one about the only time my grandpa ever went ice fishing. Others were fragments I wish I’d asked more about while I had the chance, like my great-aunt’s experience as a nun serving at an orphanage.

Recently, I surprised a student from my church’s youth ministry by saying, “You know, our church is a continuation of the book of Acts, right?”

He looked at me in disbelief. “Wait, for real?”

I shared with him that Acts is the amazing true story of the early church. It reveals how the Holy Spirit was at work in the first century. It’s an account of the ways God restored the lives of broken sinners.

People just like us.

James 5:17 (NLT) makes an incredible statement. “Elijah was a human as we are….” Elijah—the prophet of God who called down fire from heaven. And the same man who was taken up in a chariot of fire, never to taste the pain of death.


“Elijah was a human as we are…”


We serve the same God as Moses, the prophets, Jesus’ disciples, and the early believers. And we have the same Spirit. That verse in James isn’t a promise that we’ll experience everything they did, but it is a reminder that God has equipped us with everything we need to be faithful today.

Nearly two millennia after Acts concludes, God is still in the business of building churches, reaching the lost, and healing people overcome by sin. Every one of us carries pieces of that testimony. If you’re a Christian, God plays the leading role in your story, regardless of how long you’ve followed Him.

I’ve heard this line crop up in many church services: “One thing’s for certain—God’s at work around here.” Sometimes, it’s phrased like this: “It’s amazing to hear all the stories of God moving through our church.”

At times, I’ve been left thinking, “I’ve got time. I’d love to hear one.”

And that’s not me being cynical or dismissive. I know God’s at work in my church. I want to hear more stories of faith and answered prayer—stories that bring hope.


“I want to hear more stories of faith and answered prayer—stories that bring hope.”


Let’s step back from service logistics for a moment. Storytelling can take a hundred forms; the important thing is the heart behind telling them: to stir up the church to love and good deeds.

I’m not recommending having an open mic available at the end of every service—although, the small church I grew up in did just that. I can still remember members of the congregation making their way up front, standing out of the spotlight, and motioning to the pastor as the last song concluded. They weren’t trained speakers, and their thoughts were often jumbled. Some were crying. But they’d felt a nudge to share what God was doing—or a reminder of what He’d done before. Sometimes, it was a change in diagnosis. Other times, it was news that, after years of prayer, a family member had accepted Christ.

I can imagine some of my brothers from men’s groups having the opportunity to tell their stories to the church. It makes me smile because I got a front row seat to see God at work in their lives. I’d love for other people to hear those stories, all to the glory of the One who did the heavy lifting.


“I’d love for other people to hear those stories, all to the glory of the One who did the heavy lifting.”


What would it look like to maintain the “book” of your church? I’ve heard so many stories of church plants that struggled financially or spent years prayerfully seeking a permanent home. Then, God moved. What better way to fan the flames of faith than to recount the ways God has already showed up?

Does your church realize what God’s been doing there? If not, could that change?

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