Telling Stories To Build Community

Doctrine may spur constructive debate, but nothing stirs the heart like a story.

"The church must not become a collection of marbles ricocheting off each another, but rather grapes that when pressed together become wine."

That was the exhortation from Dr. Joe Aldrich to his students at Multnomah Bible College years ago. However, that sense of oneness, of becoming wine, often eludes us.

Our Bible studies may have no more impact than a dull blunt sword. Our fellowship is anything but deep and intimate. We may talk about praying for our struggles and deep needs, but bold prayer seldom happens. For all our preparation as leaders, we may rarely witness the light go on in someone's eye, which signals the intervention of the Holy Spirit. What is missing?

Stories can touch the lives of others in a way that mere Bible study cannot. The problem is not Scripture, but a limited vision of how to teach Scripture in order for it to be "caught". Our faith and beliefs should lead to changed lives. Jesus used stories (parables) because they were effective in communicating truth. The Apostle Paul affirmed the value and power of our stories when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, "You yourselves are our letter…known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (italics mine)

God intends for others to "read" the story of His activity in our lives. He will use the story of one group member to explain and illustrate a biblical truth to the rest of the group. As has been said, "Changed lives change lives." In the process of sharing our stories, a sense of community is built within the group. Following are some thoughts to guide you as you explore the why and how of beginning or expanding ...

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