How Will You Celebrate Stories of Life Change to Reach Your Vision?


kenthall5@gmail.com
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:30 pm

Rockbridge Student

Postby kenthall5@gmail.com » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:36 pm

I find it interesting how the subject of using stories keeps coming up. Using stories isn’t just part of small groups. In our Preaching/Teaching for Life Change class, one of the greatest lessons for me was the power of using stories in sermons as well. Stories take me away from my notes; people often relate to these stories.

People remember stories. Like Steve said, stories inspire people; they can imagine themselves in those situations. They stop and ask themselves, “What would I do/say in that situation?” This would assume, I suppose, that it is an inspirational story. If the story has to do with God working in a person’s life, then it would be inspirational.

When working in small groups, the testimonies of people bring them closer. They need to know each other very well in order to have that cohesiveness as a group. The story of how God came into your life and how He has worked in and through you is intimate and inspirational. However, I know some people (such as my wife) who were brought up in church as a child and don’t remember a time when they were not in the Lord. How do you counsel such people into realizing their inspirational story?

reidsmith777@gmail.com
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Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2018 3:29 pm

Re: How Will You Celebrate Stories of Life Change to Reach Your Vision?

Postby reidsmith777@gmail.com » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:13 pm

Everyone on staff at my church is encouraged to always be on the look-out for inspirational stories because they can have life-changing impact on those who hear them. We're reminded that "everyone number has a name, every name has a story." Kent, my wife also can't remember a time when she didn't have a relationship with the Lord; what she recalls mostly are milestones of God doing a significant work in her life that brought about transformation so the focus is not so much on the moment when she first crossed the line of faith and became a born-again believer, but on experiencing more of the fruit of the Spirit in her life as a result of taking her next steps in her walk with Christ. This has been something the Lord has used to encourage others in their own spiritual growth.

cas.sufficool@gmail.com
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Rockbridge Student

Postby cas.sufficool@gmail.com » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:34 pm

Something my church has been doing for years is praise reports, where twice a month someone from the congregation will be given five minutes on Sunday morning to share what God has been doing in the area of ministry that they either volunteer, staff or participate in. Since they have been doing this, I can see the possibility of easily incorporating stories from the small group ministry into the large context of the church body to encourage other about the ministry. I would also be interested to see how doing praise reports every time the group met affected the health, longevity and culture of the small groups. It is always great to focus on the positive things in life.

Steve talks about incorporating stories through different teaching pastors and the web, this reminds me how small group ministries can be focused towards the larger churches. In my rural church there is only one person on staff and that is the pastor. So, I think in a rural setting stories almost become more important to the longevity of the ministry. Instead of hearing from the one pastor who does everything in the church, the congregation gets to hear from their neighbors and friends. These testimonies then become the backbone for sustaining the ministry.

Of course, incorporating stories from the ministry at the church means there has to be some stories. This can be difficult when a rural church is just starting to form their small group ministry. As I reflect on this problem, I wonder if it would be beneficial for the pastor and small group leader volunteer to incorporate stories from other churches. Stories that testify to the impactfullness and growth a church see upon starting a small group ministry. I know this goes backwards towards the foundational steps, but it is encouraging to see how stories can play a part in every stage of the small group ministry process.

janetporter@sandyplains.org
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Rockbridge Student

Postby janetporter@sandyplains.org » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:55 am

I am so glad that the use of stories continues to be a part of each unit. I know from experience that stories get people's attention and help them to see God at work in other people's lives. When people hear about God working, they are inspired and want to be involved in that work in a variety of ways. Stories also help us celebrate what God has done. We have been talking about celebrating more at our church and I hope that it happens. With celebrations come more stories of how awesome God is and people are reminded of their call to fulfill the Great commission and the Great commandment.

As we begin our small group ministry, stories will be the best tool to help people to commit to a small group, especially if it is someone they know sharing the story. I will add that to my list of must-haves in our small group ministry plan, both to use stories as we promote the ministry and to train leaders to continually collect stories to ensure the success of their group. Steve mentioned in the book on p. 207 that one way to gather stories is to ask the group leaders to record short videos of the stories on their phones to send to the small group ministry leader team. Anyone have any other ideas of how to gather and use the stories from the small groups?

kenthall5@gmail.com
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:30 pm

Re: Rockbridge Student

Postby kenthall5@gmail.com » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:09 pm

cas.sufficool@gmail.com wrote:
> Something my church has been doing for years is praise reports, where twice
> a month someone from the congregation will be given five minutes on Sunday
> morning to share what God has been doing in the area of ministry that they
> either volunteer, staff or participate in. Since they have been doing this,
> I can see the possibility of easily incorporating stories from the small
> group ministry into the large context of the church body to encourage other
> about the ministry. I would also be interested to see how doing praise
> reports every time the group met affected the health, longevity and culture
> of the small groups. It is always great to focus on the positive things in
> life.
>
> Steve talks about incorporating stories through different teaching pastors
> and the web, this reminds me how small group ministries can be focused
> towards the larger churches. In my rural church there is only one person on
> staff and that is the pastor. So, I think in a rural setting stories almost
> become more important to the longevity of the ministry. Instead of hearing
> from the one pastor who does everything in the church, the congregation
> gets to hear from their neighbors and friends. These testimonies then
> become the backbone for sustaining the ministry.
>
> Of course, incorporating stories from the ministry at the church means
> there has to be some stories. This can be difficult when a rural church is
> just starting to form their small group ministry. As I reflect on this
> problem, I wonder if it would be beneficial for the pastor and small group
> leader volunteer to incorporate stories from other churches. Stories that
> testify to the impactfullness and growth a church see upon starting a small
> group ministry. I know this goes backwards towards the foundational steps,
> but it is encouraging to see how stories can play a part in every stage of
> the small group ministry process.
Chad,
You have some great ideas about sharing praise reports. I’ve done something similar occasionally at the end of Sunday morning services by asking if anyone has any praises. Too often, I hear dead silence. Occasionally, someone will give some general praise about God being good. Only on rare occasions will we rejoice over a specific praise.

It makes me think that people just aren’t watching or thinking about God being involved in their day-to-day lives. God does great things and we miss it. Of course, another possibility is that their minds just aren’t on this topic and they need some time to reflect.

I’ve thought that in the future I would give them an “assignment.” From now until the next time we meet, watch for God to work around you and make a mental note about it. When we get back together, have a testimony ready to share. Be ready to answer, “What happened?” “How did I know it was God?” “What effect did it have on me and other people?” This idea is probably coming from the teacher in me, but moving closer to the Lord is a learning process.

janetporter@sandyplains.org
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:49 pm

Rockbridge Student

Postby janetporter@sandyplains.org » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:10 am

Chad,
You bring up an interesting concern about not having any stories to share. It is hard to imagine a group of people who love Jesus but would have no experiences to share. Maybe in the beginning the stories would not be about a specific ministry of the church, but God is moving in their personal lives. Personal stories are inspirational, but they are even more motivating when they are shared from a person that we know and love.

kenthall5@gmail.com
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:30 pm

Re: Rockbridge Student

Postby kenthall5@gmail.com » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:44 pm

janetporter@sandyplains.org wrote:
> I am so glad that the use of stories continues to be a part of each unit. I
> know from experience that stories get people's attention and help them to
> see God at work in other people's lives. When people hear about God
> working, they are inspired and want to be involved in that work in a
> variety of ways. Stories also help us celebrate what God has done. We have
> been talking about celebrating more at our church and I hope that it
> happens. With celebrations come more stories of how awesome God is and
> people are reminded of their call to fulfill the Great commission and the
> Great commandment.
>
> As we begin our small group ministry, stories will be the best tool to help
> people to commit to a small group, especially if it is someone they know
> sharing the story. I will add that to my list of must-haves in our small
> group ministry plan, both to use stories as we promote the ministry and to
> train leaders to continually collect stories to ensure the success of their
> group. Steve mentioned in the book on p. 207 that one way to gather stories
> is to ask the group leaders to record short videos of the stories on their
> phones to send to the small group ministry leader team. Anyone have any
> other ideas of how to gather and use the stories from the small groups?
Janet,
One way that my previous church used to promote small groups (which they call “Share Groups”) is to show videos of people in the groups sharing their testimonies. This would usually be done at the very beginning of the service so as not to interrupt the worship. Since it was considered a promotion, it was part of the announcements.

However, in light of this unit, certain video testimonies or even live ones could be part of the worship. Glorifying God for who He is and what He has done certainly qualifies as worship. We have to keep in mind that worship is not just music. . If it is glorifying to the Lord, done in Spirit and truth, and comes from the heart, it is worship.

I have also had the experience in my small country church with people not having anything to share. I try to be encouraging when someone comes up with a general statement like, “I’m just glad to be part of this church!” It’s not exactly what we’re looking for, but at least someone spoke up. In a traditional church setting, that alone is rare.

cas.sufficool@gmail.com
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:26 pm

Rockbridge Student, to Kent:

Postby cas.sufficool@gmail.com » Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:41 pm

Thank you Kent and I think you are hitting on a mark. People do not see God in the business of their lives, or all the negative things that are going on drown out the underlying lesson that God is trying to teach them. Giving them time might also help, that is why at our church the person is asked a week or two in advance to prepare the five-minute praise report. This gives them time to prepare, calm their nerves and be looking for what God is doing during the week, so they have something to share about on Sunday!

I would be interested to see how the praise report times on Sundays change for your church if you would ask one or two people on Monday to be ready to share on Sunday! Very interesting. I also like your idea of giving out assignments to help the groups make note of what God is doing.

Statistics show that the majority of Americans like, enjoyed, or long for more schooling. Giving out assignments might be a way to tap into that desire and get people thinking about God more in their day to day activities. I appreciate you sharing your teacher perspective and I can see the benefit of what you suggested.


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