Have you ever seen a $100 bill lying on the ground and kept on walking? Absolutely not. A $100 bill is worth too much not to pick it up and put it in your pocket to spend later.
Stories of God’s goodness are a lot like $100 bills. They have great value, and if captured, can be a tremendous benefit later. However, while we would never walk past a $100 bill, we walk past stories of God’s goodness and power every day. We often forget to capture and share them to our loss and the loss of those that need to hear them.
There is incredible power in sharing stories. Here are four reasons you should be writing them down and sharing them often:
Stories remind us of God’s goodness and power. When we read historical accounts in scripture it reminds us of God’s goodness and power. When we share a story of a marriage restored or a family reconciled, it has the same effect on those who listen. Intellectually and theologically we know that God does miracles and changes lives. When we hear and tell stories of God’s power, we believe and trust God in new ways.
Stories give hope. Many times people feel like no one understands them or has been through what they have. They believe their pain is different than everyone else’s. They believe they have sinned in ways no one else has and have crossed lines they can never get back from. They believe that they have messed up God’s plan “A” and have now been relegated to God’s plan “B.” When we share stories of God’s goodness it gives people hope that they too could experience the same healing, restoration, and goodness of God. Whatever a person is lacking, if they have hope they can generally keep going. Hope is an incredible “X factor,” and I’ve learned never to bet against it. When you share stories, you are dispensing much-needed hope.
Stories are great teachers. Good teaching explains and calls for change. Stories illustrate what that change could look like. You can use Scripture to teach your congregation why they should be better parents and give them practical ideas to put it into action, but something happens when you share stories from your own life or the lives of others. If you shared a story about a parent who was wracked by guilt because of something they didn’t do and their kids still turned out okay, everyone listening would better understand how to receive God’s grace and forgiveness and how to trust God in spite of their failures.
Stories cast vision. If you are trying to cast a vision for how God can use your church, there is no better way to do it than with story. Are you trying to highlight the value of evangelism in your congregation? Share a story about someone who came to faith through the friendship of someone in your church. It would communicate more than any two sermons to hear someone share their life before and after Christ and then point to someone in the congregation and say, “Thanks for taking a risk and sharing Christ with me. It changed everything about my life.” As you teach and cast a vision from the scriptures don’t forget to share stories of what the vision looks like in action.
We have all had someone come up to us and say, “I remember two years ago when you shared that story.” They recount how it resonated with them, how they learned from the example, and how they believed or did something differently because of it. Odds are they don’t remember the three brilliant points from your sermon, but two years later they still remember the story and their life is different.
When I am in a setting where stories of God’s goodness and power are being shared, I make sure that I myself or someone else is writing them down. Then I file them away. If someone shares a story, it’s like they have given you a $100 bill. Don’t let it hit the ground. Instead, put it in your pocket. The right time will present itself soon enough and you will be able to pull out the story and bless everyone with whom you share it.