Missional Church: Storytelling & Storyliving

Another messy post full of new thoughts...

The theme of Story and storytelling colors so much of the emerging church. I think the missional church will focus on Story. The Bible isn't a random set of stand alone texts, but is essentially the Story of redemption, the Story of God, the Story of the Son of God, the Story of sin and salvation. However we say it, it is Story. And much of what God communicates to us is in the form of Story. Whether it's the parables of Jesus, or much of Old Testament narrative, or the early church in Acts, we get a lot of what God wants us to know from the Story, not just the "bullet points of faith."

So the missional church should be a storytelling community, where we take God's Story and retell it.

But one of the things I've noticed in the books by some in the EC is that when Story or storytelling is explained, it's often in the context of finding creative ways to tell the Story through experience. But this isn't typically explained as the personal experience of living it. It is the experience of imitating it. So we may create the retelling of a healing story of Jesus by having some people be the blind and others the crippled, and one is Jesus. Or we may use some sort of art to experience the Story.

I love art, and I do think it's an important part of life and God's community. I'm not saying it doesn't have an important place. But I wonder if there is an overemphasis on the creativity that aids the experience of the Story. I wonder if the missional church wouldn't be better served through the plain telling of the Story with exhortations to live it, and let the Holy Spirit drive it home as we do it. In other words, we could blindfold ourselves to see how it feels to be healed of blindness. Or we could serve a blind person an evening a week. It's the difference between faking experience of a story and storyliving.

We already have a canvas for experiencing Story, our own bodies and families and churches and community. We can act out a play about something Jesus did, but isn't it better to act it out in our community by living as Jesus lived? Won't that make the spoken story far more real for us and those around us?

I think the EC is spending a lot of time trying to think of creative ways to tell and experience spoken messages (or experience them without speaking). There's a lot of good in that. But the natural, normal way to experience the message is to live it and have it lived on you by others. That's missional, that's the truest art...to become the canvas of suffering and love and forgiveness for a world that needs to hear/see the gospel.

Missional Church: Post 1, Post 2