Gospel Storytelling–Part 8–Release Your Story

Well, this will be the final post in this initial series on Gospel Storytelling.  Now that you have developed your personal Gospel Story and you are ready to naturally give testimony of the Gospel’s impact on your life, the only thing left is to begin to pray that the Lord will give you an opportunity to share it.

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Simply pray that the Lord will show you the opportunities that already exist in the natural path and pace of your life.  You really do not need to create chances to share, they most likely already exist, you just need to open your eyes to the relationships that God has prepared for you and from love share your story as opportunity arises.

Just remember two simple rules.  First, don’t force the sharing of your story, just let it happen naturally.  Be ready at any time to share your story.  Secondly, remember to never make people a project.  Simply be ready to share with them out of love and concern for them.  Be patient, the chances will come if you are ready!

Enjoy the chances you are given to share God’s love for you!

Gospel Storytelling-Part 7–Begin Sharing Your

Over the last number of weeks, we have been working through the process of discovering, recording and writing down our Gospel Stories. If you have not been following along on this project check out the previous posts on Gospel Storytelling.  

If you have been following along, we are getting very close to the end. Next week will be our final installment of this series.  

Putting Your Story to Work:  This week I want to encourage you to begin to put feet to your story.  You hopefully have had a chance to write your story down according to the framework laid out last week, and hopefully have read it daily since then as you were encouraged to do.

Now, I want you to find one or two people to share your story with.  I want these to be Christian friends or family.  Please inform them that you have been working on learning to be a Gospel Storyteller and that you would like to share your BRIEF story with them.  Try and tell your story following the way you have written it, but tell it without reading it from the paper.  

It is ok if you mess up a bit, just don’t get frustrated.  This is just for practice and to get some experience telling your story.  Make sure to not take off down any “rabbit trails”.  Stick to the script as much as possible.  

When you are done with your story, allow your listener to ask any questions they may have.  Also, ask your listener if there were any parts that were not clear, or not spoken well.  Take their advice to heart and then adjust your story later if needed.  

One last encouragement: don’t think that you can’t share your story with your family, your wife and children specifically .  You may think they know your story, but they may never have heard it communicated in such a clear and concise method.  They might truly enjoy hearing it!

Gospel Storytelling–Part 6–Refining Your Personal Story

In the last episode of this series, you were encouraged to record your personal Gospel Story in writing. Taking the notes from the previous number of weeks you were invited to put on paper the history of God Breaking Into your life, God Breaking Through the sin, shame and hurts of your life, and God Breaking Out on mission through your redeemed life.

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If you haven’t had the time to read through each of these articles and spend some time reflecting on how God is working in your life, feel free to get caught up this week. Click this link for all the articles to this point.  GospelStorytelling.pdf

Hopefully, your had the opportunity to pencil out a rough draft of your story.  If you did not, stop and work on that now.  If you did, now we begin the process of refining that story into a short form that would be appropriate to share with a friend, teammate, neighbour or co-worker when an opportunity arises.

First off, let me state that we want to make sure all of this work is not to be used on people that we make into our projects.  We simply are doing this so we will have the confidence to naturally give testimony of the Gospel’s impact in our lives when opportunities arise and trust me opportunities will emerge when we are tuned in and looking for them.

Refining Your Personal Gospel Story: Set aside a period of time (30-60) minutes to transform your rough draft story into a more concise and clearly presented document.

Make sure you will be able to unplug and remove yourself from anything that will distract you.

As you begin your time of reflection, pray that God would remove any distractions so you might hear clearly from the Lord.

The goal of this exercise is to refine your Personal Gospel Story down to a 3-5 minute informal conversation you can have with a friend.  This week we will seek to get the written form down to what you can share in 3-5 minutes, then next week we will talk about creating opportunities to share the story.

Now your aim will be to get your story to a two-page document. To make this happen we will follow the basic layout of a 3 point essay.  This layout will consist of the following points:

Introduction Paragraph: This paragraph will tell the reader/hearer what you will be telling them.  For this purpose, you should tell people about how important the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus has been to your life.

Breaking In Section:  This will be one or two paragraphs telling the short version of how God got ahold of you and broke into your life.

Breaking Through Section:  This will be one or two paragraphs telling the short version of how God Broke Through the shame, sin and hurts of your life.

Breaking Out Section:  This will be one or two paragraphs telling the short version of how God is now allowing you to partner with Him on his mission to redeem all things to Himself.

Conclusion Paragraph:  This paragraph will summarize what you have already told them and to remind them of how important the Gospel is to your life.

Once you are done with refining your story please set it aside and read it once a day until next week.

Gospel Storytelling -Part 5-Your Story Has Been Written, Now Discover It

If you have been following this set of articles over the last few weeks you have
hopefully taken the time to consider God Breaking In(to) your life (BI), God
Breaking Through (BT) your hurt, sin and shame and God Breaking Out (BO) on
mission through your redeemed life.

If you are like me, a good time of reflection always teaches me something. I
hope through the exercises of the last three weeks, that you have been able to
see how God has been active in your life for longer than you might have realized.

This is what I mean by the idea that your story is already written. Gospel
Storytelling has nothing to do with writing your own story but rather recording it.
The exercise this week is to simply record your story that the Lord has been
writing.

Recording Your Story Exercise: Set aside a period of time (30-60 minutes)
to begin to record “Your Gospel Story” that God has written.

Make sure you will be able to unplug and remove yourself from anything that will
distract you.

As you begin your time of reflection, pray that God would remove any distractions
so you might hear clearly from the Lord.

Pull out the notes you have tucked away over the last three weeks and review
what you have written. Now begin to write a rough draft of your story starting
with God Breaking Into your life, then covering how God has Broken Through
your sin and shame, hurts and struggles, then ending with how you see God
using you for His mission and His glory. Eventually, you will want to have this
down to a page or two but for now, write as much as you need to. Next week we
will talk more about simplifying your story.

If you are a verbal processor like me, it might help to record yourself telling your
story and then writing it down.

Enjoy this process and don’t stress about it. It should be fun to see how God has
been and is working in your life.

Gospel Storytelling-Part Four

Over the last few weeks, we have been addressing the three-fold act of Gospel-
Storytelling. That being, developing the ability to give witness to God Breaking
In(to) our lives (BI), God Breaking Through (BT) our hurt, sin and shame and
God Breaking Out (BO) on mission through our redeemed lives.

We have looked at the idea of “God Breaking Into Our Lives”, and “God Breaking
Through” the junk in our lives.

This week we turn our attention to the idea of “God Breaking Out On Mission”
through our redeemed lives. We need to be consistently reminded that we were
not saved simply to cleanse us from our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross and his
free gift of grace do allow us to walk in a reclaimed state with our creator God,
but we were also redeemed that we might be involved in God’s active mission of
bringing saving hope to others.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, JesusChrist, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14

Breaking Out Exercise: Set aside a period of time (30-60 minutes) to focus
on how God has uniquely gifted and called you to make a difference for His name
sake.

Make sure you will be able to unplug and remove yourself from anything that will
distract you.

As you begin your time of reflection, pray that God would remove any distractions
so you might hear clearly from the Lord.

Then ask the Lord to bring to mind ways in which God has gifted you with unique
skills, passions, and desires. Reflect on how God has allowed you to be used for
His Kingdom sake in the past and how you sense He is planning to use you in the
future. List doors that God has opened for you. List times when people have told
you that they see God at work in your lives. As you listen to God, make sure to
list every time you have seen God call you to partner with him on his mission. Do
not overlook the small opportunities as well as the large ones.

Once you have listed these things, keep them safely tucked away in a safe spot
until next week!

Creating Your Own Gospel Story-Part Three

Last week we began to address the three-fold act of Gospel-Storytelling.  That being, developing the ability to give witness to God Breaking In(to) our lives (BI), God Breaking Through (BT) our hurt, sin and shame and God Breaking Out (BO) on mission through our redeemed lives.

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You were asked to take 30-60 minutes of reflection to focus on the ways in which God has broken into your life.  I hope you were able to do that.  IF you were not, please take some time to do that exercise before you move on to the exercise for this week.

This week we want to move on the idea of God breaking through the crud and crap of our lives.  Some may feel that we have more crud than others or more than anyone else, but the simple fact is that we do not walk alone in having problems we must deal with.  

Everybody has problems, bad habits, addictions, hurts, shame, secrets, stumbling blocks and a myriad of other things that we wish we did not have, or at least we wish nobody would ever find out about.  

Breaking Through Exercise:  Set aside a period of time (30-60 minutes) to focus on how God has broken through the not so nice stuff of your life. Make sure you will be able to unplug and remove yourself from anything that will distract you.

As you begin your time of reflection, pray that God would remove any distractions so you might hear clearly from the Lord.

Then ask the Lord to bring to mind the ways that he broke through the muck your life.  These BT moments may be sins overcome, habits broken, hurts healed, rough edges rounded off, doubts dispelled, relationships restored or ended, etc.  Make sure to try to list anything God has done or is in the process of doing that is making you more into the person that he desires you to be.  Make sure not to rush this process.  It may take a bit of time for the memories to come to mind.

Make a list of the times and ways that God has Broke Through.  Once you have listed these things, keep them safely tucked away in a safe spot until next week!

Creating Your Own Gospel Story-Part Deux

When you look at the “Gospel Storytelling Logo above, the first question that may come to mind is “what does BI, BT, and BO stand for?”.  These three abbreviations are in the logo to remind us of the three parts of our personal gospel story:  God Breaking In(to) our lives (BI), God Breaking Through (BT) our hurt, sin and shame and God Breaking Out (BO) on mission through our redeemed lives.

One of the best ways to learn how God has worked or is working in your life is to hear testimonies of how he has worked in the lives of others.  With this in mind, it would seem to follow that the best way for us to help others see how God is striving to break into their lives would be to share with them our testimony of God’s work in our lives.

If you want to naturally give testimony to the Gospel’s impact on your life, it is as easy as following the BI, BT, BO formula. While some do not like the idea of formulas, we simply use this term to represent an easy and efficient way to outline the powerful work of God in your life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are serious about becoming more natural and proficient in your ability to tell your own Gospel Story, please take the time over the next number of weeks to do the activities presented in these articles.  These exercises will allow you to piece together your personal “Gospel Story”.

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Breaking In Exercise:  Set aside a period of time (30-60 minutes) to focus on how God has broken into your life. Make sure you will be able to unplug and remove yourself from anything that will distract you.

As you begin your time of reflection, pray that God would remove any distractions so you might hear clearly from the Lord.

Then ask the Lord to bring to mind the ways that he broke into your life.  These BI moments may have come through troubles, hurts, blessings, relationships, messages heard, scriptures read, songs, poems, quiet reflection, or any of a myriad of other ways.  God calls us all in different ways, and at different times in our lives.  Make sure not to rush this process.  It may take a bit of time for the memories to come to mind.

Make a list of the times and ways that God Broke In, the ways he got your attention, the moments when you cried out to him, the times that others spoke into your life.  Once you have listed these things, keep them safely tucked away in a safe spot until next week!

Creating Your Own Gospel Story-Part Uno

As a community, we have been redefining what will be considered success in our ministry.  Realizing we can not meet everyone’s wish list for a church, we need to set clear measurement standards that will allow us to feel we have accomplished the call that the Lord has given us.  We seek to do a few things and to do them well.

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Our first point of measurement has to do with how well we are developing Disciples of Jesus Christ.  We define a Disciple as a person who is “following Jesus, being transformed by Jesus and on mission with Jesus”.

Our second measurement standard is that the people in our LFC family will understand the meaning of the Gospel, that being “that we are an imperfect people, clinging to the perfect Christ, being transformed by the Holy Spirit and helping other imperfect people.”

The third measurement standard has to do with the ability of those in our community to be Gospel Storytellers.  A Gospel Storyteller is a person who can give witness to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives and to help point out that transforming power in the lives of others.  We wish to help everyone learn to share the impact of the Gospel of Christ on their life naturally and in the
everyday path of life.

In an article entitled “What are the New Measurements of a Successful Church” author Caesar Kalinowski gives ten new benchmarks of a successful church.  One of those ten benchmarks is:

Gospel conversations taking place naturally. Is our verbal proclamation of Good News increasing? Are folks growing in their gospel fluency? Does the gospel come up naturally and often?

We will be using a series of articles in this email newsletter to help us develop our own Gospel Stories.

To be able to tell your Gospel Story, you must first understand your Gospel Story.

Homework:  Take some time this week to think about your life and take note of where God through the Gospel has broken into your life, where He has broken through the mess and problems, and how the Gospel is breaking out of your life in ministry to others.

Gospel Story Telling: Part 1

Embracing the Imperfect Without Embracing the Imperfection

As a pastor, I find it very hard to keep the right things always before us as a community.  It is easy to get caught up in the concerns of the moment, or the hot issue at hand and forget to keep the important in front of the urgent.  As I returned from my sabbatical rest and study, I felt very driven to make sure that we judge our effectiveness by the right scorecard and that we truly learn to do a few things and do them well.

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These two main focal points I presented to our leadership upon my return were to make sure that we are teaching everyone to be Gospel Storytellers and that we were leading people in true discipleship.

In January, I preached through a short series on the topic of Discipleship and addressed the issue of a disciple being a person who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus and being on mission with Jesus.  We will continue to return to this amazing topic often and in many ways.  In and through the current series on Romans we are constantly addressing the issue of discipleship while also thoroughly addressing the idea of the Gospel.

Beginning this month, I want to be very intentional in using this newsletter and our weekly email newsletter to help us unpack the idea of being Gospel Storytellers.  The idea of Gospel Storytelling is “developing the ability to naturally give testimony of the Gospel’s impact in your life while on the natural path of life”.  I will unpack that more in future writing, but before we even get to that I need to share again our definition of the Gospel.

We are defining the Gospel as “Imperfect people, clinging to the perfect Christ, being made perfect through the Holy Spirit and helping other imperfect people”.  Through our study of Romans so far, we cannot help but see that we, all humans, are without a doubt Imperfect.

In my 8 years of pastoring here at LFC, I have had one sermon series that has generated the most positive comments, and easily four times the positive comments of any other. That series was “No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come as You Are Culture in the Church.”  This series, based on a book of the same name by Pastor John Burke, spoke to people of all ages, backgrounds and at differing points in the spiritual journey.  I believe that the church, over the last 20 years, has grown greatly in our ability to allow people to be more open and honest about their sin and imperfections.

I believe that the ability to be honest about our sin condition is the first step in truly understanding and sharing the Gospel.  I also believe that we have to carefully learn to embrace the imperfect person without embracing the imperfection that plagues each of us.  In loving the struggling person, it is easy to minimize the struggle that they face.  We need to strive to love the person while aiding them in overcoming the source of their struggle.  Biblical community exists to allow us to hold each other up while we stumble through the minefields of life, but our goal needs to get the person out of the minefield.

As we seek to become Gospel Storytellers we must start with a clear understanding of our imperfections and accepting the challenge to remove the stumbling block of sin that puts a rift between us and God.

I will have more on this topic in the weekly email newsletters for April, so please make sure to read them!  If you do not get the emails, contact the office to make sure we have all of your correct contact information.