The power of a great story

IMG_3758I’m a bit of a superhero geek. The past few years of Marvel and DC movies and tv shows have caused me to tap into my inner nerd more and more. Lately, I’ve been addicted to shows like DC’s Arrow and The Flash and Marvel’s Agents of Shield and Agent Carter. All of these shows have added some fun characters from the comic books and the story lines are getting more and more captivating.

So why am I talking about my inner geek like this? Because I see in these comic book driven shows and movies something that the church needs to learn to use to communicate the Gospel. The power of a great story. We are a species that has always loved fascinating characters that are a part of a powerfully woven plot. We connect with story. For centuries, tales and folklore were passed from generation to generation through books and campfire-type sessions. And now we use technology to bring many of these same stories to life.

As I have been involved in the church over the years, I have noticed that we oftentimes tend to toss story to the side in favor of knowledge and instruction. I’m not saying these are bad things, they can actually be good and sometimes essential to grow in faith. I have observed, however, that some of the most impactful men and women of God have always been able to tap the power of the story. What are the elements of captivating stories? Strong characters, conflict, danger, romance, adventure, comedy, rescue…so much more! All of these share one thing in common. They involve action. The success of the Marvel movies of the past 8 years wouldn’t be if it were not for action. Knowledge and instruction would be left inside our brains if not for action.

My buddy Mike sent me this text yesterday. “This will start a movement… “Discipling through Modeling – getting away from knowledge-based discipleship and moving to obedience-based discipleship.” Obedience requires action. It means that when I learn something new about prayer or bible study, I must do something with it or I’m in danger of just having head knowledge and not heart transformation. The ultimate goal of every follower of Jesus should be to put into action what He taught us. And our teaching must leverage the power of great stories of people who live by action to illustrate what a life of faith looks like.

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