Church #36. Meet Pastor Rebecca Sullivan. She is the solo pastor at Lakeview Lutheran Church in Maplewood, MN. With an average worship attendance of 65 on a given Sunday, Lakeview describes themselves as a “friendly little church that seeks to grow on our faith journeys by coming together and serving the world around us.”
One way Lakeview is living out their faith journey is to have one Sunday designated as Storytelling Sunday. Sullivan took care of the service, and then she invited my friend, Stephanie Luedtke, and me (Heather, the blogger) to provide a faith storytelling event.
Here is what Storytelling Sunday looked like:
Sullivan created a storytelling sermon where she invited two women from the congregation to share their faith stories. It was not a typical pastor’s sermon! These two women spoke passionately about God’s love for them and their love for Lakeview. Not sure if they realized it or not but their faith storying fed right into the storytelling event after the service. Their faith story modeling was permission-giving for others to share their stories!
After the service, that’s where Luedtke and I joined in. We hosted a storytelling session based on the concept: The More You Give, The More You Get! Over coffee, donuts and with 20 participants, here is what shaped our time together:
1.Give and Get Game. To play the give and get game, each person gets a small cup of skittles. Giving no instructions on how to do this, people are to give and get skittles from others. Play time is two minutes. People needed to move around to do this. Those with mobility issues stayed seated with other participants coming to them.
Then, we debriefed the game:
- What was it like to give away skittles?
- What was it like to receive skittles?
- Was it hard to have no instructions?
- Did anyone have a strategy?
So what’s the point? The world’s story tells people that they need more and more stuff. But God’s story teaches us to share. In fact, what we learn with this game is The More You Give, The More You Get!
2. Give and Get Story. Read Acts 2:41-47 (CEV) or do it as a simple storytelling. As you read or tell the story, instruct the group to participate in two ways: (1.) When they hear the word “they” or “them,” the participants should point to each other and say, “That’s us!” (2.) When they hear the word “together,” the participants should hold hands with someone. Read the story: On that day about three thousand believed [Peter’s] message and were baptized. They (that’s us!) spent their time learning from the apostles, and they (that’s us!) were like family to each other. They (that’s us!) also broke bread and prayed together (hold hands). Everyone was amazed by the many miracles and wonders that the apostles worked. All the Lord’s followers often met together (hold hands), and they (that’s us!) shared everything they had. They (that’s us!) would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it. Day after day they met together (hold hands) in the temple. They (that’s us!) broke bread together (hold hands) in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.
So what’s the point? Early believers shared what they had freely with others. The more they gave away, the more people liked them and the more people were being added to their community. It’s the same with our faith stories, the more we give of our stories, of our stuff, of our talents, the more we get in return. Things like new friends, a greater love, interesting experiences, and a deeper faith. It’s true! The More You Give, The More You Get!
3. Give and Get Weaving. To get people talking about their faith stories, we created a weaving with yarn storytelling. People were asked to choose three strands of string. Each strand represented an answer to one of the three questions below. They shared their answers around their tables:
Name one thing that gives you away
Name one thing that God has given you
Name one thing that this community of faith gives and gets from you
After sharing our stories, people knotted, braided, and then weaved their yarn stories into the window looms.
The window looms are a palate of neutrals, and they represent daily life.
What is weaved in is colorful yarn and ribbon, and they represent participant’s stories. Where the two intersect is faith – God at work in our lives. Faith and daily life are the stories we share with others. We learned that when we give away our stories, we get to hear in return the stories of others. Stories of faith. Stories of daily life. Stories of God.
Why does Storytelling Sunday matter? It matters because of the stories Jesus tells the people. Jesus used parables to help people understand God, faith and daily life. We, too, are called to be “Stewards of the Story!” (Check out this resource!) We tell others our faith stories because we are a part of God’s ongoing, ever-creating, redemptive story, and these are stories people need to hear. We just need a Storytelling Sunday to practice it. The More You Give, The More You Get!
For more information on this story, please contact Rebecca Sullivan at Pastor@lakeviewlc.org or 651-484-1465.