Ministry Journey Blog

Thoughts on Ministry

07 Feb

Published Article-A Good Story

Posted in Uncategorized on 07.02.12 by Merlyn

Published in Connections Magazine (Jan/Feb 2012)

Learn about Connections here

A Good Story

By Rev. Marcus J Carlson

Everyone loves a good story. Whether shared by a family member, friend, stranger or colleague, we all seem to enjoy hearing a good story. Movies, television, books and other media provide us with many stories, ranging from terrible to life changing. There is something about a story that allows us to experience or see something in a way that we cannot without the story. The connection we find creates a unique link, parallel or understanding that enlightens us to our own life story as well.

One of the great tragedies in our culture today is that we do not often take the time to listen to the stories those around us have and need to tell. We all have a story to tell, and we do not often tell our own story. For whatever reason—even in the midst of our great love of stories and our need to connect to others in community—we have neglected to share and listen to the stories of those around us.

While we are willing to consume the stories that can be enjoyed through various media, our individualistic nature has caused us to avoid sharing our stories with each other. It has caused us to forget that those around us have a story they desperately want to share. This is true for people of all ages, but especially for children, youth and emerging adults.

My own two children (ages four and six) are always sharing stories with me. It is one of the ways they seek to connect with their father (notice the parallel with ourselves and God in this). The youth I encounter also have a story they want

to share, and they need adults who invite the sharing of their story without judgment.

We forget that the Bible—often treated like an unneeded, dusty instruction book—is filled with stories. The Bible is a series of stories of God, humanity and the world. The Scriptures tell the larger story, of which we are a part and with which we need to connect. It’s a story that will show us the very heart of God, as well as who we are and all that God has in store for all of creation. We are all a part of God’s story—and the more we connect to that story, the more we are able to recognize that God is writing a story in our lives. The more we engage with the God who loves us unconditionally, the more we are able to see where and how we fit into His story.

There are also a lot of false stories we encounter each day. The culture often has a story for us, as well as for our children and youth, that is far from the story that God desires for us to hear, experience and embrace. The stories our children are being told are causing them deep pain and leaving them feeling abandoned and alone. Our children and youth are constantly being told by individuals, groups and organizations that they are not good enough and that they do not matter.

I read various studies on children and youth; whether the studies are from 1970, 2000 or today, they demonstrate that our children and youth are hurting and have been told a false story. While the circumstances of their lives and the details of the stories they are being told have changed, the stories continue to be painful.

The challenges our children and youth face have and continue to change, but there are truths that have not changed. Our children and youth have always—and will always—need their parents, as well as other positive adult relationships. Parents will always be the most significant and important influence in the lives of their children and youth, especially when it comes to their spiritual lives and their relationship with God and His church. The stories we tell (and do not tell) our children are, and will continue to be, the stories that shape their lives the most.

While we may never have a more entertaining and attractive story than the ones that are told in our culture, we do have access to the most important story, a story that is different, the only story that can lead to abundant life. We have the greatest story ever told—God’s story.

As parents, as adults who are in relationship with children and youth around us and as followers of Jesus, we need to tell His story and our story. Parents and other adults who share their faith and their faith story with children and youth have a powerful impact on the lives of those children and youth.

One of the most significant influences—if not the most significant influence—in the faith of children or youth is the faith of their parents. One of the best things we can do for our children as parents is to grow our own faith, and then share that faith with our children. We rarely share our faith with others, especially with those closest to us. As parents and as adults we must share our faith and our story with not only our own children and youth, but also with all children and youth with whom we have the privilege of having a relationship.

We must allow our children and youth to see our faith, to see our relationship with Jesus Christ, to see that we, too, are trying to understand and experience the great story God desires to write in our lives. We must authentically and honestly live out our faith for the sake of our children and youth. We must allow them to see our victories, our questions, our strengths, our doubts, our failures and our scars. If we as followers of Jesus can share the story God is writing in, around and through us, then they will see the story God is writing in their lives as well.

Our children and youth (along with the world) need to be told a different story, a new story, a story of love, grace, hope and redemption. As followers of Jesus we are called to be a part of the world, but we are also called to give Christ power in our lives, not the world.

As we engage with the greatest story ever told, may we also remember that while we have the great joy of knowing and sharing the story, the most powerful part of God’s story is that we know the storyteller. May we never forget to engage with God’s story, listen to the stories around us and share our story with those we encounter—especially with our children and youth.

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