I blinked, and November is already well under way. Surprising and a little unnerving, especially since I signed up for NaNoWriMo on a whim and currently have nothing but a handful of the vaguest of plot lines. A couple other friends of mine have signed up and taken the plunge, and I, much like a lemming inspired by their examples, followed suit.
Except I really did have good intentions. Lately, I've been fascinated by stories, and how they shape us and can be used to shape others. As part of our church planting class, we watched and participated in a presentation on the power of stories. It was an insightful presentation, and I learned a lot about what makes a story what it is: the linear story (what happens), the heart story (the emotions...the undercurrent of the linear story), and the archetypal story (the part of the story that appeals to ancient memory). We talked about worldview and meta-narrative and all of that jazz. We spent a lot of time examining different movie clips in this light, focusing especially on the movie End of the Spear. But while I left the presentation feeling like I had learned something about analyzing stories, I still felt that I didn't know how to craft them, tell them, or catch them in the moment of their creation.
Stories tell us a lot about who we are, where we've been, what we hold dear, and where we're going. It was my hope to convey this to my congregation on All Saint's Sunday; it was my hope to collect stories from different people in the church about the people in their lives who were saints to them - be these saints from the church or not. It was my hope to teach that because we are a community, these different saints affect all of us and are a part of our shared history - our shared story - because of their influence on one person. The stories of our saints - both known and unknown - are stories we know and share with each other. However, things sometimes don't go as planned in a church, and I had to scramble to fill up my sermon with other things.
In our visit to Boston last weekend (which I will write more about in another post, I promise!), the director for congregational development suggested we work on developing our story - and have it be one that we can tell in a short period of time (under 2 minutes). This story is not about an autobiographical account of how the four of us came to be in covenant relationship with one another and then felt this call to plant a church - but the why. Why live in community? Why plant a church? Why - other than because we feel God calls us to it?
On a lighter note, my interest in stories have been also fueled by a new Facebook application called Just Three Words. The principle of it is simple: you and all your friends add to a story three words at a time. I've had great fun seeing what people come up with and how all the stories I'm following have taken quite different tones and turns.
These different snapshots of the semester have left me wanting and needing to learn how to tell a compelling story, not just the verbal articulation of it, but the very structuring of it. What piece goes where? What is the hook? Where should it end?