Have you ever played a part
in a drama? Have you been part of
a story? Have you felt the
excitement of being part of something, something that placed you in a company of
people doing something worthwhile?
Tayla, our four-year-old daughter, has all of the above in her life.
For the last few months she
has been preparing for her school concert and it is taking over her life. She is preparing for a performance, but
the boundary between the preparation and the performance has blurred. She performs before the
performance. It is beautiful to
watch. Every day she refers to
songs, stories and moments that remind her of the concert. She recites, retells and connects her
life with the concert – it has become a narrative that brings cohesion and
sense to her life.
Yesterday, on our way to
school, she made a statement that echoes in the corridors of my soul. She looked at me and said, “Daddy –
when you mommy and Liam (her brother) come and watch the concert, you must hold
fast onto Liam because he will want to join us in the concert.”
Tayla knows the magnetic
power of being part of a story.
She knows that Liam will see a performance that will draw him into
something. She knows that the story will pull him into participation into the
The same day I had this experience
with Tayla, I read the author’s note in Don Miller’s new book about
stories. He writes,
you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get
it, you wouldn't cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield
wipers. You wouldn't tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and
put a record on to think about the story you'd seen. The truth is, you wouldn't
remember that movie a week later, except you'd feel robbed and want your money
back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we
spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel
meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a
story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either."
Paulo Freire writes that,
is suffering from narration sickness”.
I think he is right, I also think that the
church is suffering from narration sickness. We lack localized inspirational
stories. We need the kind of stories
that will pull Liam unto the stage. We miss these kind of stories.
Not because these stories are not out
there. We miss these stories
because we are fascinated by the stories created by the advertising world’s
We are allowing ourselves to be trained by
the media to miss the behind-the-scenes stories that are changing the world. In
Christian communities have the glorious
work to retrain people to recognize and live significant stories.
This will take courage.
Churches are used to either living
vicariously through their pastors (by outsourcing their stories for his/her
stories) or through the stories their pastors tell about other people (by
modeling without following). We have to live a worthwhile story – we cannot
just become voyeurs of other people’s stories. Churches, like school concerts, are supposed to pull people
into training and performing kingdom stories. These performance should be more
than just what happens on the stage at the concert. Like Tayla the boundary
must become blurred. The story is
supposed to be a magnetic pulse pulling us into rhythms of the songs, stories
and remembering – Monday to Saturday.
CS Lewis wrote,
that we can act and that our actions produce results. Everyone who believes in
God must therefore admit … that God has not chosen to write the whole of
history with His own hand. Most of the events that go on in the universe are
indeed out of our control, but not all. It is like a play in which the scene
and the general outline of the story is fixed by the author, but certain minor
details are left for the actors to improvise. 
The church are called to infuse these 'improvisations' with more than
living the message of the advertising stories, stories which mostly will have a short-term
excitement with a long-term price to pay.
We need better stories. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand is, for me, the ultimate story. And you?
 Pedagogy of
the oppressed, p.52
 Work and
Prayer, CS Lewis “Essay collection” – p.161