Pastoring and storytelling
”Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story…”Psalm 107:2
I love a good story. I would imagine most people do so too. There are lots of good reasons for this. Stories entertain us. They draw us out of our world and invite us into another one. They let us escape the everyday world and be immersed in other people’s lives, struggles, joys and triumphs.
But stories don’t just entertain us – they change us. Stories allow us to see things differently and view our world, and our problems, from another perspective. Even though a story might contain dragons, spaceships or far off lands, we can relate what we see in that story to our lives here and now. The best stories take us out of our lives, but when they are done they deliver us back to our world transformed.
It strikes me that the job of a Christian pastor is much like that of a storyteller. I’m not just talking about the way in which we preach (although that might need a bit more storytelling too!) But the way we pastor is a method of storytelling.
Often people will come to me as a Christian minister with problems and issues that they are struggling with. That’s part of living the Christian life, and it’s a real privilege to help people in these situations.
As a pastor what I want to do for people who come to me is to change their view. I want to take them out of their situations for a moment and lift their eyes toward Jesus. I want to help them to see things from an eternal and heavenly perspective.
But I don’t want to just give them a few moments respite as I share a Bible verse or two. I want them to leave our time together changed and transformed. I want their view of Jesus to change their view of their lives and struggles. My time with someone might not solve all of their problems. But I hope it will enable them to see Christ better and see how he is at work in their struggles as well as their joys.
What am I doing? As I open the Scriptures with someone, I am essentially telling a story. It is a true story and one with great power. As I take people to Ephesians 2, for instance, I am telling the story of God’s great saving power in bringing people from death to life. I am helping people see that they have been made alive with Christ when he was raised from the dead. I want people to know that they are now seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. I want them to see the story, that they are part of the story, and that they are changed by the story.
As Christians we get to be storytellers. We get to tell the wonderful story of God and his work in this world. We get to retell the old, old story of Jesus Christ and his work of salvation. We get to be part of that story and invite others to be part of it too. The Bible is full of stories, and Jesus was full of stories too. Perhaps we ought to be better storytellers, and we will be better pastors as we do so.