Jesus was a great storyteller. He didn’t use fancy power points, brochures, or video. He invited his audience into stories. Stories paint a picture that capture our hearts and minds. Any leader who wants to encourage a team, invite people to volunteer, give, or be involved in advancing justice should explore the power of story. Here are five quick considerations for sharing a S.T.O.R.Y.
Sicken – Begin Your Story by Disturbing
We all want the world to be full of sunshine and rainbows, but it isn’t. The truth is most of us don’t want to think about unpleasant things, but God disturbs us out of complacency. The prophets regularly called God’s people to see the ugliness that their greed and pride created. They used pictures and stories to disturb.
A good story sets up something that sickens you. It creates the broader background through statistics that make your blood boil. Challenge someone’s thinking and grab their heart. They need to feel how wrong it is.
Something like –
“Did you know the person struggling the most in poverty is a single white mom with a child under the age of six who lives in the suburbs? On average she encounters more than three legal issues a year and can’t find or afford help. She has no right to a free attorney – unless she commits a crime. If she walked into the massive Bears football stadium with every seat filled, there would only be six lawyers available to help everyone in the stadium. The odds of her receiving timely help are extremely low. But the consequences of not getting help for her child can be catastrophic.”
Trial – Make the Story Personal
A good story will make it personal. Big statistics grab attention, but the story of one client’s trial makes it real.
Something like –
“Jennifer was a single mom with a five-year-old son who needed support. She tried to figure out complicated paperwork. She went to court but felt like she was in a foreign country. Anxious and confused she tried to tell the judge her ex was making more money, but the judge belittled her over wrongly completed paperwork. Her ex had a lawyer who made her feel stupid and she broke down crying in court which made her furious at herself.”
Help someone identify with Jennifer. She could be your sister, your daughter, or your friend.
Opportunity – The Story Needs a Turning Point
Every story has a turning point – an opportunity for change. It is critical that we recognize God is the hero in a story of change – not us. There is only one Savior, and you are not Him. But God placed you in the story and despite your fears and uncertainty used you to help change someone’s story.
Something like –
“Jennifer was at the food pantry when she saw the sign for legal help at a local church. She would not have gone to church on Sunday, but on a Saturday morning she entered the church to see a lawyer. She came storming into my office mad at how her ex’s lawyer and the judge treated her. Mad at herself for being so weak and powerless. I simply asked if I could pray for her. That was unexpected. She agreed and at the end of the prayer had tears in her eyes. The compassion was a stark contrast to her treatment in court. We talked through her paperwork and how to present in court. She was visibly relieved as she left to speak with another member of the caring church team.”
Resolution – Finish the Story
So, what happened? A good story provides resolution. If you lead a team of volunteers, this is critical. They want to know what happened. This is why Follow-Up Advocates are a critical part of our Gospel Justice Center teams–they walk alongside the client and capture the rest of the story.
Something like –
“Jennifer told us what happened. She appeared before the same judge only now she felt empowered and did everything right. The judge commended her and apologized when he ruled against her because her ex earned cash under the table that could not be proved. She left court happy. Why? Because a caring church team invited her and her son to church. After meeting with the attorney, she met with a Client Advocate who shared the hope of Jesus with her and she prayed to accept Christ. She left with her first Bible in one hand and proper court papers in the other. She lost her case but won a newfound faith and supportive church family.”
Hear more client stories like this on our YouTube channel.
Sometimes losses can be gains.
You – The Story Needs a Clear Call to Action
So, what will you do? Jesus often used story to invite those listening to apply the story and act. The Good Samaritan Story ended with a challenge to ‘Go and Do Likewise’.
Maybe you were part of the team that served Jennifer but did not know the whole story. Celebrate. Give God the praise for allowing you to be part of a team that God used to change her. Maybe you are considering volunteering. Imagine the impact you can have by putting aside your fear of inadequacy and recognizing God has always used broken people to serve others. That is His story in all history. Say yes. Maybe you are a donor and recognize God allowed your resources to support a caring team that changed a life. Or maybe God is inviting you to share your resources by donating.
S.T.O.R.Y. – Remember it’s God’s Story
God uses story to invite us into his story. Be part of his justice work that seeks to restore people in hope. Take Jennifer’s advice:
“To anyone out there who feels as though they need help with the court system, or possibly be in a situation where you have no other choice than to represent themselves in court – I know firsthand how hopeless and broken one can feel. I also know help is available. Call Administer Justice and take the first step. Everyone is wonderful and walks you through the process step by step. I know in my situation, I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but the attorney never lost patience with me or made me feel less. Whatever the situation may be, take the first step. The first step leads to a couple more steps. Help is available, take advantage of it. It is the road to becoming unburdened. You can do it!”
Share your stories and invite participation in the great work of God.