We speak in stories. Stories are the way people share what they really think and express who they are. Stories are the web that holds together a person's true beliefs. It is through these stories that we interact and communicate. They are the currency to exchange ideas and as such are more important than 'facts'. In an age of informational overload, Daniel Pink writes in A Whole New Mind:
"When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context…"
It is through these stories that we interact and beliefs are challenged. God reveals Himself primarily in story and Jesus often teaches through story. Christians need to understand the importance of this, including a greater understanding of their own story.
Here are three aspects of story that every Christian ought to know:
The Worldview story (Normative) : The worldview story is the driving story of a person's life. It is the story that shapes their interpretation of all things. This may be the humanist story or a postmodern story but none-the-less it interprets all other stories and life experiences. A Christian can recall when they became a Christian. Their whole life changed. This is because their worldview story changed. Christians not only have the greatest story ever told, but also each of our individual stories only make sense connected to the grand story as revealed in scripture. (Read: STORY AND BIBLICAL THEOLOGY PDF by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen)
Our Person Story (Existential) : Often Christians assume their 'testimony' is simply a resume like collection of facts about their 'conversion'. This is because many Christians have a wrong view of the gospel. If we see the gospel simply as the entry into the Christian faith, our testimony is reduced to this. As we grow as Christians, our personal story includes the continual grace renewal that the gospel brings. It is the idols that, by grace, lose their grip on our lives. It is the suffering that softens our hearts to love others. It is God using circumstances to sanctify us. It is our identity being changed and conformed to the image of Christ. This is the story we speak to others daily in both word & deed. (Read: To Be Told…Know Your Story. – Dr. Dan B. Allender)
Mission & Story (Situational) : When your worldview changes and your very values and identity change, how you live will change. Loving others and sharing your story will be a natural result of your understanding of the gospel story. Anything less than this is a rejection of the Biblical story. This is because in your worldview, you will see God as a missionary god and you as a missionary too. Christians ought become great listeners as well as story tellers. We must re-think evangelism to be the sharing of our story, God's story and listening to others stories.
Listen to the Sermon: Telling Gospel Stories (MP3 & PowerPoint)