My job at First Baptist is to work with the music and worship planning for the Sanctuary service. This service is pretty traditional. We sing for the most part out of a hymnal, we sit in pews instead of movable chairs, we meet in the room that has the stained-glass windows and 35-rank pipe organ that were moved from the old downtown church. As much as I like contemporary music, I really love the all that tradition as well. Sometimes, though, we have realized that it was time to add a new element to the service that comes from the more contemporary models being used elsewhere. The "Faith Story" is one of those elements.
We are by no means a stuffy congregation, as all the interaction in the Java Junction can attest. We have lots of small groups, Bible Studies, and Sunday School classes, that have a great sense of community . Sometimes, however, people don't know about something really neat that is going on in some one's life. In spite of the structure of the Sanctuary service, the worship planning committee wanted to make sure that the congregation had a chance to share in some of that good news by adding a "faith story" to the service a few Sundays a month. These stories are told by ordinary members of the congregation to help us understand and celebrate the fact that God is working in our midst every day. We've heard stories about providential adoptions, involvement with the poor, interfaith interactions, a house remodeled for someone in the church who is wheel-chair bound, and much more. It's very inspiring!
David Swanson, in his review of the book "Jesus For President" says:
"In each of our churches there are astonishing stories that happen every week. People caring for each other, sacrificing for each other, taking risks for the Kingdom. But if your church is like mine, you probably do not talk about these stories very often. Whether we wish to avoid pride or simply don’t have enough time during our services, the result is many untold (yet inspiring) stories. Stories about people who are living as citizens of an alternative Kingdom. And while it may seem a tame response to a radical book, perhaps our first step is to become better storytellers.
The stories we tell shape us. What stories are being told in your church? Are they stories about power and influence that unwittingly celebrate the values of empire? Or, are you sharing the stories of ordinary people living out the extraordinary values of an alternative kingdom? "
So, if Pastor Dick calls you up and asks you to share your story, I hope you won't be shy. And if you hear of someone doing something that should be shared, be sure and let him know. We can all be blessed and uplifted when we hear how God is working today.