It's Better, Together
One of the fun things I did with our children when they were younger was to make up stories together. Our oldest son, Nathan, seemed to enjoy it the most. It started one night when he was a preschooler, and he asked for a bedtime story. I was all for reading books with our kids, but Nathan preferred books that weren’t really “stories.” He liked books about how things worked (trucks, helicopters) or about nature (a great topic, unless it was one of his favorites about parasites…). I longed to share actual stories with him. So, one night as I lay down with him at bedtime, I explained that we were going to make up a story together; I’d say one sentence, then he could say the next. We’d take turns until we’d created a whole story, together. Let me tell you, it was a wild ride. That child had an imagination. This became part of his bedtime routine, and some nights we laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face.
In order for this team storytelling to work, a couple of things were required of us. We each had to be willing for the next sentence in the story to be different than we would have expected. In other words, we had to take the sentence offered by the other and figure out how to run with it; no arguing or contradiction that the next line was not what we would have wanted or predicted. Secondly, we each had to relinquish control over the final outcome of the story. By agreeing to tell the story together, we were allowing for the fact that the end would be something neither of us could have predicted. In reality, these stories Nathan and I made up together rarely actually came to an end. Most nights, I finally had to say, “Enough! Bedtime!” as we both looked forward to starting a new story together the following evening.
It occurs to me that this is a lot like what we do together as a church. We share in creating the story of our congregation, as we seek to be part of the Greatest Story. Sometimes we get bogged down in the “mechanics” of how things work, and we have to find new ways to be creative and to tell new stories. No one of us can create or dictate the best “story” of our congregation. We have to enter into that work together, each one of us contributing, and taking what is offered by the other and figuring out how to “run with it” and move our story forward. By sharing in the creative work, each of us gives up a certain measure of control over the final outcome of our story. In reality, the story of Hebron Church and its place in the life of the larger Church of Jesus Christ never truly ends. Each generation takes up the task, creating and moving our congregation’s story into the future, as we seek to be faithful to the call of our loving Lord.
With prayers for your journey,