“A good story gets into our bones, stays with us, and changes us!”
Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in White Oak, Pennsylvania wanted to start a new Bible Study that would invite people to not only learn more about the Bible, but that would also encourage people to more deeply explore their faith. But there was a challenge. Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church didn’t have a pastor at the time, and members had always assumed that their pastor would lead their class.
But the Holy Spirit sometimes leads us into new and exciting places, doesn’t it?
People began to notice that Pastor Michael had different plans shortly after he began his new ministry. “Why not develop a Bible Study that’s not led by the pastor?” he suggested. “I can support the Bible Study, but I don’t have to lead it.” That short question and Pastor Michael’s offer to support the class was all that was needed.
In Front Porchin’, we’re challenged to reclaim the lost art of storytelling and to create an atmosphere where people can explore their faith using common images and stories by focusing upon Pastor Jake’s list of top Bible stories. “I believe, if we all know and can tell these 50 some stories from Scripture, we [will] have a common language of symbols, images, and stories to address…the story of God and God’s people,” Pastor Jake writes. “God’s Story. Your Story. My Story. Our Story. The stories are not separate stories; but rather, one shines through the other. First, we take and eat that Word that comes to us sweeter than honey; and secondly, we begin to become more comfortable talking about Scripture and our faith with others.”
Sandy, a member of Faith, was set on fire with excitement after Pastor Jake was invited to facilitate a Bible Storytelling workshop for the SWPA Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Sandy remembers how the words that Pastor Jake spoke resonated with what she believed. She was especially drawn to the richness of the oral tradition that stands at the heart of the Bible and to how simple stories from the Bible reveal important truths. Shortly after the workshop, Sandy began to lead Bible Storytelling each Tuesday morning at Faith Lutheran Church.
“We begin our time together with a prayer,” Sandy says, “and then we spend some time in silent meditation.” “New members are welcomed and the concept of storytelling is very briefly explained. And Pastor Michael’s support continues to keep us focused upon the grace-filled perspective of God’s unfolding story.”
The Bible Storytelling group began by studying Pastor Jake’s “Top 40+ List,” and then moved on to the parables that are found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The group has also explored many of the Psalms in the Old Testament and has taken time to read some of St. Paul’s letters. “Everyone has a chance to speak,” Sandy reports, “and nobody dominates the conversation. We always focus upon the Scripture passage that we’ve chosen to explore; but, we also allow everyone in the group to express thoughts.”
Bible Storytelling began with 8 core members, but the group quickly grew to 24. People of all Christian denominations are welcomed, and a small snack is provided, too. Pastor Michael says, “It is quite organic, and [those who attend Bible Storytelling always] feel empowered to speak. We share weekly ‘Kingdom Sightings’ that remind us that the Word is alive and active.” Each week, the Bible Storytelling group ends its time together with a simple prayer from The Book of Common Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, send us out with confidence in your Word to tell the world of your saving acts and to bring glory to Your name. Amen”
If you want to learn more about Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in White Oak, PA