I had an “ah ha!” moment in October 2007. And it changed at least two things for me:
- the way I view interruptions, and
- my approach to church communication.
I had been reading the fifth chapter of Mark’s gospel.
Jesus is on his way from a boat landing into town when a man possessed by a legion of demons interrupts him . Jesus stops and heals him.
Next, Jesus is telling stories to a crowd of people when a man named Jairus interrupts and begs Jesus to come and heal his sick daughter. Jesus stops what he’s doing and heads toward Jairus’ house.
On his way, a woman who had been ill 12 years comes up behind Jesus and touches his cloak in hopes of being healed. Again, Jesus stops and deals with the interruption. He says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
A light bulb came on in my head. I realized that a lot of good stuff happens on the way to doing something else. And if I’m too busy to stop and deal with the interruptions, I might just miss what God’s trying to do with me and through me.
And then I recognized how much I’d been immersed in these stories from Mark’s gospel. Jesus used storytelling as his primary method of teaching. Perhaps I should do the same.
As a church communication guy, I spent a lot of time and energy relaying information about programs and ministries, calendars and events. Now I began to see that telling a story is much more effective than reciting facts, dates and bullet-points… especially in spiritual matters.
I began refocusing my work. My new passion was telling stories and helping others tell their stories. On the church website, in the weekly TV program, and in every other channel of communication, we began to feature the stories of how people were living out their faith in their day-to-day lives.
As a congregation, Richmond’s First Baptist Church was on the way to something else. Ten months earlier, Dr. Peter James Flamming retired after serving 23 years as Senior Pastor. The Pastor Search Committee was still interviewing candidates for his successor.
We were dealing with an abnormal level of angst and anxiety in the congregation. I don’t claim that the stories changed all that. But I was an eye-witness to softening hearts as people recounted their experiences with God. And many of those who heard, read and watched the video clips melted into God’s grace as they resonated with those stories… many of which involved dealing with some sort of interruption.
As Mark tells it, the folks who were around when Jesus healed the demon-possessed man were more concerned with the pigs than the miracle (I talked about that in a previous post).
But the healed man went around that part of the country telling the story of what Jesus did for him. And Mark says, “All the people were amazed.”