By Sam Gutierrez
Storytelling is an important faith-forming practice that is often overlooked.
Our God is a storytelling God. Because we are made in God's image, we are storytellers too. Our personal stories fit within the framework of the overarching story of God’s narrative: creation, fall, redemption, new creation.
However, telling our stories does not always come easily to us. Learning to share your story (testimony) with family members, coworkers, and friends can be stretching and faith-forming. We have to learn how to “speak” our faith. We have to practice telling our stories. Why?
Communities that create space for storytelling become places where grace is likely to flourish. Storytelling builds connection and acts as an antidote to pervasive loneliness. When we share stories, we feel heard and understood, and this increases our sense of ownership and belonging.
This is why in our worship services we are intentional about sharing stories from the organizations we support. When we take offerings for our community ministry partners, we invite representatives from those organizations to stand on stage with us and share the stories of how the money we give is used to bless others. During Advent last year, we heard stories from 3:11 Youth Housing (now AYA Youth Collective) – about homeless youth in our community and how our giving could bless and benefit that group of vulnerable persons.
Eric Boer has incorporated storytelling into our Profession of Faith class. As part of the process, young people are asked to write down their faith story and share it with others in the class. We then ask them to share a part of their story with the congregation as they publicly profess their faith.
We’ve also structured Alger 101 and Alger 201 around the theme of story-telling. If you are new to Alger and you attend Alger 101, you'll hear three key stories that shape our life together as a community.
Even in this blog, I like incorporate stories whenever I have a chance. A few weeks ago, I told the story about a child in our congregation who, when asked, “What does Pastor Sam do?” responded with, “Pours the water.” A few weeks after that, I told the story of the baptismal font floating down the stairs and into the parking lot during the Christmas day fire in 1971.
These stories are important. They help shape who we are as a community. They bond us together.
Let’s find creative ways as a community to tell more stories. As we do so, we’ll create space for the Spirit to form us into the image of Christ in ever-deepening ways.