Story-telling. And Story-listening.

Tim Keel wrote: “Throughout history people have told stories and been shaped by them, and in doing so they have discovered and constructed ways of understanding who they are and what is happening in the world around them.”  [Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor, and Chaos]

The numbers we count in our weekend services represent faces. Faces of men and women and children. And those faces hold stories, everyone of them. Personal and real stories. And while we may not get the opportunity to engage every detail of every life story on the weekend, if we're listening, we will walk away with stories.

On one weekend alone, I heard stories—albeit shortened versions—of personal pain, deep loss, enormous joy, and quiet peace. I heard the story of a man who was literally dying; the cancer would take his life in just a few weeks. Another man told me the heart-wrenching, but inspiring story of his 35-year-old brother who died just a week prior. I celebrated with a man who started a new job that week—after being out of work for a year. I needed to hear those stories as much as those sharing needed to tell their story. They help me look at my own life, and they help me take in what is really happening around me. They connect me to others and help me live outside my own little world.

I want our guest services teams, our artists, our kids' leaders, our "core" people to hear stories like those. Stories that take us past the task of serving on the weekend. Past the rush of getting everyone into the service. Past the pace of a multi-service weekend. I want us to hear stories that cause us to pause and thank God for the people we get to encounter.

There are also other stories. Stories of our team members’ God-moments with our guests. Moments that touched them. Moments that called the best out of them. Moments where they got to witness God at work—right in front of their eyes. Everyone needs to hear those stories. Stories that help us “get it.” Get that God is using us right here, right now.

America’s authority on story-telling, Robert McKee put it this way: “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” 

Tell stories. And perhaps more importantly, listen to the stories of others. It is the ultimate human contact.

Before you can tell a story, you'll need to listen to story. Tune in. Stories matter.

(adapted from How to Wow Your Church Guests: 101 Ways to Make a Meaningful First Impression)