A few weeks ago, I sent an email to our staff about a fantastic fall kickoff of one of our small group settings for moms. This particular small group environment happens around tables at our church on Fridays in one of our main spaces, which puts a pinch on our teams getting ready for Sunday. In addition, almost 100 little kids attend the childcare portion of the event, which infringes a bit on our children’s ministry space and routine.
The purpose of the email was to thank my fellow staff members for their flexibility, and to let them know it was worth it: many, many unchurched moms attended and were connected into loving, Christ-centered community. I shared some of the “wins” of the kickoff, plus the story of an unchurched mom who was really impacted by the connections she made.
We usually do a pretty good job as a team of celebrating when God does big things, so I wasn’t surprised at the emails I received that essentially said, “Awesome! Glad to help.” But one response caught my eye: “Thanks for telling the stories! That makes it all worthwhile!”
My first thought when I received that email was, “Am I sharing these kinds of stories enough?” On some level, I had known before that note that it was good to occasionally share about the great things we see God doing. But truthfully, when an important event or initiative that I’m leading happens and is over with, I’m far more likely to forge ahead to the next thing on my list or calendar than to stop for a minute to reflect on and share the stories of people who were impacted by what we worked so hard on as a team.
While it’s hard sometimes for leaders to take a step back and share stories about things that happen around and through our organization and people who’s lives are impacted by what we do, it’s a crucial part of casting vision and helping your team remember and be inspired by the “why” of what it is your organization is trying to accomplish. Here are a few reasons you need to take time to tell stories:
People are moved by stories, not numbers
Data is important in evaluating an organization’s effectiveness. Data can uncover uncomfortable truths about how we’re really doing in accomplishing our mission and vision. But people are motivated by stories. Sure, a stat may come along every now and again that get’s people’s attention. However, what motivates the people on your team are stories that remind us we are serving people. Data may help paint a picture about different aspects of an organization, but nothing tugs at our heart and ignites our passion like the story of a life changed.
Stories remind us why we do what we do, even when it’s hard
Ministry is hard, and some days we wonder if we’re really making a difference. There are times when your staff and volunteers feel the same way, too. Stories help us focus on why we do what we do, especially during seasons when we may not be making much noticeable progress.
Stories remind us that God is working
We’re in ministry because we want to make a difference, right? And by God’s grace, we often do make a difference, but there’s often something even bigger going on: God is working in people’s lives. When we tell stories that show how God is working and using us, we are reminded that there is no way any of this would be happening on only our own effort. There’s nothing more encouraging than realizing that it’s not us doing the work, but God working through us.
Stories give us reasons to celebrate
One of the most important things to do after a big event, initiative, or busy ministry season is to stop, look back, and celebrate what happened. The best way to do this is to tell the stories that cause your team to feel like all their hard work was worth it.
Chime in: How can we tell stories to cast vision?