I am going off the beaten path today, because I have something on my heart and I’m feeling inspired! Will you join me on a journey to explore the importance of story? I would like to share how God can use your story to impact others.
I’m Micah Metz, social media coordinator at World Gospel Mission. Often in my job, I am searching for ways to package and post stories that will impact people and cause them to act and react to the mission and plan of Christ in their lives as well as other’s lives. I have been doing this for almost two years now, and through reading and researching so many amazing stories of God’s transformative power, I have constantly been reminded of something: “We all have a story.”
Micah Metz, Grayson Metz (son), and Maggie Metz (wife) Photo credit: Stuart Fritz
Len and Betsy Phillips, missionaries to Albania, stated in their latest prayer letter, “We are learning that each staff member and each student at our school has a unique and fascinating story reflecting the working of God’s grace and love.”
Story has fascinated me from a very early age. I grew up watching superhero cartoons, and I fondly remember things like family movie night on Fridays. I drew pictures and played with my Batman action figures for hours just imagining elaborate stories. What draws us to stories? What makes us go back to movies, books, music, etc. over and over?
We were created by the Creator to create and relate through story and expression. It is about community and unity. I recently released a comic book I have been working on for six years. Through all the trials, countless hours of editing, heartache, and victory there was one thing that consistently made me persevere: I have a story to tell. Since the comic has come out, I have been asked, “What gave you the drive to do that for six years?” The answer is simple: I love God, and I love comics.
How profound right? It’s almost funny how much we try to figure out special ways to somehow infiltrate other cultures or people groups by imitating—like some kind of ministry ninja—what we think they want. The truth is that people grow in community when there is a real authenticity of who we are in our story and our efforts to connect. There is always value in meeting needs; this is a big part of what we are all called to do as missionaries. However, we fail to achieve the whole gospel message if we stop at works. (I am referring to everyone who is a Christian as a “missionary,” because that is our role.)
James 2:14–17 (NIV) reads, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
The Bible tackles deeds but what about story? Oh my, the story is everywhere! First, let’s remember that Jesus taught most of His lessons through parables. Second, let’s consider the importance the Bible emphasizes on story:
- Romans 10:14 (NASB) – “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
- 1 Chronicles 15:8 (NASB) – “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples.”
I could go on and on. The lesson is that the bible values this balance of sharing story and deed.
Now that there’s an established Biblical need for story and deed, the real question is how do we take our story and go into the world and share it effectively to bring about real relationship building and life change? How do we become the missionaries we have been called to be wherever we are?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do have some strategies that I have observed and tried. It goes back to your passions, gifts, experiences, and influences. God uses all things together for our good. My struggles, my pain, my victories in Christ were all part of my experience when I wrote the comic book. This is the story I share with others when I talk about my comic with them.
The key is to live a life that is dedicated to Him and to begin to let habits form through constant reminders of scripture, prayer, and relationship. The key is to not settle.
We as humans have a tendency to waver back and forth in our faith, often caught up in the good or the bad that make us think we’re doing better or worse than we really are. When we have an attitude that shows we will not settle and we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us who we can help and interact with today, it becomes less about us and more about others. Habits can be trained and minds can be renewed. Romans 12:2 (NIV) states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
This brings me to my final and maybe most important aspect of storytelling as it relates to sharing the gospel. If we are built to be in community and share in story through creativity and experience, then listening should be a huge priority. Our stories are shaped by living life with others. This requires the practice of patience and deliberate attentiveness to others. This may be easier said than done, but isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
ACT: Missions is messy, but comfort zones create distance. Today, get out of your comfort zone and go talk to a neighbor, someone in line next to you at the store, or an older person you know is wanting to share stories with you. Listen, learn, and then act. Ask them what you can do to help them today and in the future. Be a missionary today!