Imagine sitting on chairs in the church's parking lot; multiple "campfires" are burning safely in their containers, and people are roasting marshmallows and telling stories. They smile as they tell small "c" stories, express wonder as they tell Big "C" stories (see Your Congregation’s Big "C" Campfire Stories), but then get a bit quiet as they tell campfire stories of the world.
Campfire stories of the world tell what breaks the congregation's heart as they pursue God's call. These stories lead beyond the four walls of the Church, past the Big "C" church, and into the world. Here God's new creation people act as witnesses to and ambassadors of the Messiah. As Our World Belongs to God says,
The Church is a gathering
of forgiven sinners called to be holy.
Saved by the patient grace of God,
we deal patiently with others
and together confess our need
for grace and forgiveness.
Restored in Christ's presence,
shaped by his life,
this new community lives out
the ongoing story of God's reconciling love,
announces the new creation,
and works for a world of justice and peace.
There is, of course, a world of campfire stories. News stories come at us more quickly than we can digest them. The needs of the world overwhelm us. Our own communities often have a potent ache for things to be better.
As God's sacred family equipped by the Spirit and sent into the world on God's mission of reconciliation, local congregations need to discern where God is calling them to work and what world campfire stories they need to tell. This discernment process and story-gathering work are closely connected to the passions God has put in the congregation and what they love to do (see What’s Love Got To Do With It? The Power of Naming What Your Congregation Loves).
Gathering these world campfire stories can be a bit tricky. Tricky because too many folks hear only certain voices and stories. With this limited hearing, we may not gather the stories we need.
Here are a few ways to get the world campfire stories your congregation needs to tell:
- Follow the wisdom of Milestone 1 of Our Journey 2025: "Cultivate practices of prayer and spiritual discipline, transforming our lives and communities by the power of the Holy Spirit." We seek God's leading and guidance as we gather world campfire stories.
- Follow the wisdom of Milestone 2 of Our Journey 2025: "Listen to the voices of every generation, shaping us for ministry together." Different generations listen to and tell different world stories. Make sure you are listening to the passions of every generation.
- Follow the wisdom of Milestone 3 of Our Journey 2025: "Grow in diversity and unity by seeking justice, reconciliation, and welcome, sharing our faith as we build relationships with and honor the cultures of our neighbors and newcomers." Getting outside our usual spaces and interacting with believers from diverse backgrounds brings richer stories.
- Follow the wisdom of Milestone 4 of Our Journey 2025: "Share the gospel, live it missionally, and plant new churches in our neighborhoods as we discover how to connect with our local and global ministry contexts." When we move out into the neighborhood where we connect with our neighbors and envision global ministry, our world stories get both smaller (close to home) and bigger (out into the world).
As you gather your world campfire stories, use them to inform your congregation's prayers in every space, from committee gatherings to council to Sunday worship. And tell these stories as the stories that break the heart of God and so break our hearts leading us to action.
The campfire stories of your congregation; every congregation needs to have a bundle of campfire stories they tell about themselves, the Church, and the world. And every family of God needs to consistently and wisely tell these stories—sometimes around a real campfire in the parking lot while roasting marshmallows.