Keep telling the story

Published 10:14 pm Monday, July 4, 2016

By Michael Brooks
Brooks is a pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church and adjunct instructor at Jefferson State Community College.

It happened every year at the worst time. The college mandated evaluations at the end-of-the-term. Since this was the time when final work was due, some students were careless or tardy in their work and some weren’t happy with grades.

I felt the evaluation was time to take revenge on the teacher, knowing I’d have a session with the dean to discuss what they wrote.

I’ll never forget one student I had in a Bible survey course. Her evaluation was meant, I think, to be critical. She wrote, “All Dr. Brooks does is read the Bible and tell stories.” I rather took this as a compliment since it was said about the master teacher, “Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables” (Matthew 13:34, NLT).  In public speaking we teach the value of stories. Some studies show an audience forgetting up to 90 percent of what is said after two days, but stories are more easily remembered.

We tell students personal stories have even greater impact if the speaker is willing to be vulnerable and share what happened, whether good or bad. When students talk about humorous or hurtful things they can move an audience. I suppose one benefit of aging is having a bevy of stories that can be retrieved in speaking or writing to illustrate scriptural principles.

For example, I can’t think of biblical stewardship without remembering Earl and Stanley. Earl was enlisted for the finance committee one year, and he never wavered in his desire for people to give to the church. The problem was he never wanted the church to spend money!

On the other hand, Stanley told us, “There’s too much hurt in the world for us to sit on God’s money. Let’s spend it and help people.”

And I can’t think of serving outside the spotlight of public acclaim without remembering a lady who decided on her own to “police” the sanctuary after worship services. She picked up trash and saved re-usable bulletins. “This is God’s house and I want it to look nice for him,” she told me.

The early church impacted their world with the story of Jesus. They told of their encounter with him and how their lives were changed. The apostle Paul told his conversion story twice in the book of Acts, so we surmise he most often used it as a “hook” to get the attention of a street crowd when he preached the gospel. Every Christian has a story about meeting Christ. As the old hymn reminds us, “Keep telling the story, be faithful and true. Let others see Jesus in you.”