If you hang around people with a passion for disciple-making long enough, you start to see certain characteristics emerge. Good disciple-makers tend to be fluid in the way they approach their days and avoid rigidity in the interest of responding to God’s Spirit. They are also consistent in their efforts to connect with people, and to connect people with one another. Most of them, furthermore, are good storytellers.
Why do disciple-makers tell stories? First, stories have a unique power to captivate audiences across every age and culture. They create natural connections with people by drawing them in, and connections are fundamental to disciple-making (as we mentioned above). Second, because stories are vivid, they help people “see” important concepts with their emotions and hearts, not just grasp them with their minds. A well-told story casts vision by reinforcing what it looks like when God shows up in a person’s life.
Since your desire is to be an effective disciple-maker (or else you wouldn’t be reading this), here are a few ideas to help you become a better storyteller. If you have other thoughts on this, be sure to leave a comment below!
Listen. In order to tell stories, we have to listen for them. This begins by asking questions and allowing others to share their thoughts without interrupting them. Hand-in-hand with listening in conversation is the art of “listening” to the events of the day. Rather than plowing mindlessly through 24 hours, we do well to recognize that God is seeking to bring certain people and circumstances across our paths all the time. With this attitude we’ll be much more alert to the cool things God is doing and then be able to share them with others.
Regularly summarize Scripture passages and share your summaries. It’s an excellent practice to summarize the passages we read in such a way that we can share them. Not only does this force us to concentrate on the passage at a deeper level than we otherwise would, but it also prepares us to share with others what God is teaching us, which is a fundamental disciple-making skill. Since a huge amount of the Bible is in narrative form, this practice will strengthen our storytelling chops.
Establish reviewing habits. Most of us would have more stories to tell if we simply were able to recollect the events of the past days and weeks. It takes effort to capture important events in our minds. If you doubt this, just ask a school-aged male what he did today. Rather than leaving the happenings of our lives to memory, if we can establish habits of regularly reviewing the events of days and weeks gone by, we’ll have good fodder for storytelling. My practice is to use a Moleskine journal and record things that have happened, and I also paste emails with great stories and feedback into OneNote. Though I’m not as consistent with this as I’d like to be, sometimes I go back to these items and can enjoy them, pray about them, or tell others about them.
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Each Thursday we send out our Training Resources Newsletter, which shares a new ministry tool and an encouraging story about God’s Spirit preparing someone for service.