My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors—a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
Psalm 78:1-8 (NIV)
In an article in the New York Times, Bruce Feiler wrote, “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” I think he’s right.
Our identities are shaped by stories. Our lives are connected by stories. Our faith is grown through stories. It is one thing to tell your kid, “God is faithful”. It is another thing to tell your kid, “When you were young, I lost my job. I was unemployed for eight months. I didn’t know how we were going to keep our house. But our church family surrounded us. God provided for us through their generosity. I am so thankful for what God did through our church family.”
Story sharing has an incredible ability to open our eyes to the ways that God is at work. The prophets knew that (2 Samuel 12). Jesus knew that (Matthew 13). Story sharing is a powerful way to cultivate the kind of honest vulnerability that is necessary for discipleship. This is why Christians need to be intentional about listening to and sharing stories.
How do you cultivate storytelling in your communities? What ways have you found to tell the next generation about God’s faithfulness?