What is a deacon of storytelling? And why would we have one at Exodus?
I had the same questions myself, so I’m thankful the elders spent several months leading me through the commissioning process. In that time, we worked out how God might use this role to serve his people at Exodus.
So… in case you wondered, storytelling does not mean sitting in a circle on a rug and sharing picture books together, though that might be fun!
Our storytelling will be the kind that journalists do, but instead of sharing news of what people are doing, we will share stories of what God is doing — for his people.
Telling these stories of God’s present work in his church will encourage us as we live together on mission. And, as we share and enjoy these “small” stories, my hope is we will better see and rejoice in the gospel, the one great Story.
This Story is made up of countless stories of God’s salvation, one tale after another of the Father redeeming his children, rescuing them from slavery, bringing them out of darkness and death into his marvelous light.
Many of these stories have been recorded for us in the Bible. But the Gospel is not just a story about the past — it is still being written. Through Christ, we have been brought into the Story. Our individual narratives of salvation are part of the Story of the Snake Crusher.
The Psalms are good examples of this kind of storytelling, and they explain how important it is for God’s people. For instance, Psalm 78 could be said to describe the Israelites as those who had stopped looking for and sharing new stories of God’s provision.
They knew all the old stories, it seems. They remembered how he provided water from a rock, but doubted he would provide this day’s bread: “They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness? He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?’” (19)
Like the Israelites, we might be able to recite from memory many incredible stories of God’s deliverance. We might be able to tell the story of our own conversion or salvation. But sometimes we begin to lose perspective, seeing God’s work as limited to history, to Bible stories or to years past in our own lives. When we see him this way — distant from us rather than present among us — it can become easy to doubt his goodness, to forget his love, and to fail to trust him.
Disbelief, then, is a failure of imagination on our part. One remedy for this is to tell one another stories of God’s wondrous grace in the present, as the writers of the Psalms do.
The writer of Psalm 116 tells how God has “delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” (8) He does not want to keep this story to himself, but share it with his church: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord … in the presence of all his people.”
Psalm 118 says the same. God has rescued his people from their enemies in a battle, and the writer is compelled to tell the story: “I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord.” (v. 17)
We are not fighting battles with swords and spears today, but as the people of God we have many wonderful stories of deliverance to share.
Stories of conversion and salvation. Stories of God working through our community groups. Stories of God working through us to rescue our neighbors and friends and family members.
As we tell one another these stories, we can rejoice together in God’s work and be strengthened to return to our daily battles against sin, because we remember and have seen the end of the one true Story.
If you have a story of God’s grace you would like to share with the Exodus family, or if you are interested in being part of the storytelling team, please contact Joy La Prade on The City.