Got a Story?
From the Grecian orator to the mother reading her children a bedtime story, from the TV anchor describing a news event to the African chief narrating tribal history to his young warriors, from the preacher illustrating his theological argument with an allegory to the novelist writing his romantic tale—all these individuals have one thing in common: they are conveying a message through a story.
During His three years of ministry on earth, Jesus did not spend His time debating the finer points of the Scriptures with the leading theologians of His day. He simply conveyed His message of God’s love and grace through everyday life stories or parables.
Throughout history it seems that the best way to get one’s point across has been to illustrate one’s thoughts enfolded in a story. During His three years of ministry on earth, Jesus did not spend His time debating the finer points of the Scriptures with the leading theologians of His day. He simply conveyed His message of God’s love and grace through everyday life stories or parables. These simple, easy-to-understand narratives became our Lord’s trademark, particularly among the unassuming farmer and down-to-earth fishermen families. They thronged to the mountainside and the shores of Galilee to hear profound truths through stories about everyday things they witnessed. They could picture a man mugged and left for dead by common robbers; a persistent widow who eventually wore down the patience of a local judge; an unattached woman who lost one penny and acted as though she had lost her entire fortune; or a heartsick father scanning the horizon every day looking for a glimpse of his wayward son. Now two thousand years later, we still read, speak about, and reflect on these same stories.
If we (as administrative or local church stewardship leaders) are ever to effectively relate the importance of stewardship, we need to tell more stories. Not just any narratives, but ones that are personal—based on real-life experiences. When someone presents his or her personal stewardship testimony in church, it becomes an effective, educational tool that ‘grabs’ the members’ attention, helping them to incorporate the ‘bottom line’ of the story into their own daily lives.
One of the best ways we can make stories last a lifetime is to include a stewardship story each quarter about great men and women from the past during the children’s story time at church.
To get us started here is a story from my own family. My father, Ernie, was a faithful member of a small local church on the South Island of New Zealand. He worked as a salesman for a major brush company, and his only ‘claim to fame’ was that for many years, at the annual national conference of brush salespeople, he was named the number one salesperson for the whole country. The other salesmen and women could not understand how he was so successful because he only sold his brushes and brooms door to door from Monday to Thursday. The other salespeople often made most of their sales—up to 50 percent of their weekly totals—on Saturday, because that was when women who worked during the week were home, and they also had the money to purchase the brushes, brooms, and sweepers. The other salespeople probably never imagined that when we are faithful to our Heavenly Father with our observance of the Sabbath, He affirms our loyal respect of His time with such abundant blessings.
One of the best ways we can make stories last a lifetime is to include a stewardship story each quarter about great men and women from the past during the children’s story time at church. An example would be the life of William Colgate, and how a ship captain encouraged him to tithe 10 percent of his income. Later when he became an entrepreneur, he gave 40 to 50 percent of his income to the Lord’s work. The storyteller could distribute small toothpaste containers to each child, and ask them all to remember—as they brush their teeth—the significance of giving to the church and world missions.
This next Sabbath, let us begin a new chapter in the stewardship program at our local churches. Let’s highlight our stewardship emphasis with stories!