A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Stories - Part Three - Finding Stories of Ministry Impact
In this series, I’ve been writing about accelerating generosity through story-telling. I’ve explored the “why” in Part One and the “what” in Part Two, so now we’re ready to dive in to the “how.” In a later post I’ll tackle how to share stories, but first we have to find them.
When we’re first developing a culture of story-telling, we can’t simply cross our fingers and hope for spontaneous emails with subject lines like, “My life is completely different now that I trust God with my finances” or even “Your women’s retreat saved my marriage.” That would be great, wouldn't it? But the reality is most people are shy, and they have no interest in standing in front of a microphone or video camera. They’re afraid of tripping up the stairs or getting emotional in front of a group of people. They’re worried about being seen as “holier than thou.” And even the most outgoing, open people sometimes have a difficult time believing they have a “good enough” story to share.
Finding Ministry Impact Stories: How Lives Are Being Changed as a Result of Generosity
The key to finding ministry impact stories is to observe, ask, and listen.
- Walk the halls of your children’s ministry. Watch for families who seem particularly engaged in what’s happening, and have a conversation. Ask what they and their kids are learning. See what a difference the teaching is making at home. Listen for a possible story.
- Have a “debrief” with a missions team and listen as they share their experiences. Ask questions like: How did you see God at work? What did you learn about yourself? What would you want other people to know about your experience?
- Take the time to notice a couple holding hands—a couple who sat in your office just months before for counseling. Talk with them about how God’s working in their marriage.
- Be on the lookout for “stories in the making.” Your church is full of people who are struggling with all sorts of tough situations and, by God’s grace, your ministry will have a positive influence in their lives. Don’t wait for a story to have a full beginning, middle, and end before you pay attention to it.
Some of you may be thinking, “How am I supposed to fit all that ‘observe, ask, listen’ stuff into my already-packed schedule? Do you know how busy we pastors are?” Good news: You don’t have to do this alone.
- Involve your staff, lay leaders, and/or key volunteers in the search for stories. Explain that you’re entering a season when you want to accelerate generosity, and help them see how important stories are. Set up the expectation that at every meeting, you’ll be asking how God is working in their ministries and how they’re seeing the value of generosity being lived out. Over time, your staff and leaders will develop the habit of seeing your church as a collection of individual stories.
- Invite stories through your bulletin, e-newsletter, announcements, social media channels, and so on. While most people won’t spontaneously share a story, some will respond to an invitation to do so. Give them a call to action: “Share your story with us at email@example.com.”
Finally, pray for God to lead you to people with stories HE wants to be heard. He’s changing lives, and He wants to change more. He may be more excited by your new story-telling culture than you are.
Next up: Finding Stories of Generosity