God knew what he was doing when He created the world with a word. Divine words shape communities. Similarly the words we use as leaders - the stories we tell - shape the culture of our churches. Stories help us keep effective models visible, they draw attention to the God who is active among us, they awaken our longings for more and remind us of what is possible. Stories throw our minds into fresh possibilities and our hearts into unchartered territory.
We create evangelistic structures through principles…
…we shape missional movements through stories.
Kingdom leaders increase momentum in the culture through telling an alternative story.
At Causeway Coast Vineyard we have intentionally cultivated a storytelling culture. Our staff gatherings primarily involve shared stories of life change. If you attended, you would notice there is lots of story and little strategy. It’s because for us the story is the strategy. Every time we share the story we treasure what the Father has given. In so doing, we create the climate for Him to do it again. Exodus says,“Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you.” Phrased differently, “whenever and wherever you treasure what I have already given and done, I will intensify my presence with you and my favour among you”.
Without stories of remembrance, culture drifts towards structure and momentum becomes momentary. We increase the momentum in the culture through stories.
Culture is carried through story.
Culture carriers are story tellers. They tell stories of the past and the stories of the future.
Every week remarkable things happen in our community… things we could only have dreamt of previously. Each week there are stories of divine intervention, dramatic kingdom outcomes where something shifted that previously seemed impossible. Stories like an entire classroom filled with 42 children surrendering their lives to Christ this week.
These are the BIG stories.
It’s important to tell big stories. Big stories change paradigms. They serve as a reminder that the impossible is invading and the Kingdom is drawing near. These stories of divine favour stick in our mind, they add to our momentum. When shared on a weekend, everyone is filled with awe and the sounds of the scriptures are heard in the room. We love BIG stories.
Yet, in CCV we don't always tell the big story.
We don’t always tell the big story because…
… the BIG story isn’t always the best story
The big story and the best story
Big stories are dramatic; they attract a lot of attention. The best stories are dynamic; they create a lot of traction. They move things and people forward. While the Big story details divine favour - outpourings of the impossible - the best story is often the story of reaching for the impossible in our ordinary everyday lives and failing miserably. It’s the best story because it reminds us we can all reach. Everyone gets to play. Everyone has permission to fail and everyone rejoices when an ordinary believer gets breakthrough in their everyday life.
Big stories shift paradigms. Small stories shift practice. Big stories remind us what is possible. Small stories keep it accessible. Small stories move the whole community towards action. The more people you want to bring with you, the more the story has to be accessible. So we tell our big stories to change paradigms and our small stories to move people. We tell our big stories to change minds and our best stories to capture hearts. When we sense an atmosphere of unbelief building in the minds of our community, we wheel out the big guns. When we sense that people think it’s possible for others but not for them, we wheel out our little guns. In those moments, we often have our children tell the stories of kingdom breakthrough in their context.
Suddenly everyone is thinking if they can do it, I can do it. And of course…whenever the storyteller is not a staff member you just strengthened your culture.
So there you have it. The big story and the best story. Most churches tell only one kind of story. Often they tell the wrong story at the wrong time. As a leader it’s your job to be skilled at both.