It’s Our Job to Tell The Story

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, MaryAnn McKibben Dana is curating reflections from our 2016 National Gathering. Watch this space for thoughts from a wide variety of folks, especially around the question, What “stuck”? What ideas, speakers, workshops or worship services are continuing to work on your heart as you envision “the church that is becoming?” We’ll be hearing from ruling elders, teaching elders, seminarians, and more. We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Martha Spong

As a pastor who is also a writer, I’m fascinated by how ideas circulate and how easy it can be to feel you missed the moment for getting in on a conversation.[1] What can I add to the public discourse? Maybe it’s enough to stay quietly where I am and plug away diligently at my sermons, being careful not to offend anyone with my theological stances or political opinions. I don’t really feel that way, but perhaps you see the point: it’s easy to stay small and safe.

Aric Clark is a friend-I-had-never-met-before, a fellow blogger (Two Friars and a Fool) and an author (Never Pray Again). I attended his workshop, “LectionARIC: The Art of Hermeneutical Vlogging,” in which he made the case that the basic work of hermeneutics is part of what it means to be a practicing Christian. He asked, “How is it we with the best story to tell are the worst storytellers?” I know I often stop at the idea level; unless I have the absolute deadline of a Sunday morning sermon, I may let a thought float away. Aric makes the point that there are plenty of people thinking about ultimate matters (pain, suffering, death, climate change, war) without the framework our beautiful and redemptive story can offer, and we are letting the conversation happen without us. Aric commends Vlogging, or video blogging, as a way to meet people where they are and start a conversation. If we want to share our story, we need to use the medium that will reach people.

What if we find that prospect daunting? T. Denise Anderson is a blogger (SOULa Scriptura) who is also an “in real life” friend and colleague; we’ve worked on the RevGalBlogPals blog and book together, so I know she has important things to say and a powerful writing voice. I was excited to hear her preach at closing worship. She did not disappoint as she sent us out with a message reminding all present that we are appointed by God and do not need to worry about going out there alone to do God’s work, nor to be embarrassed by it. We must not give this crossroads in the life of the church all the power. God is with us in the work. And we’d better not try to talk ourselves out of doing God’s work; “staying stuck and staying stagnant is not an option” for us.

It’s our job to tell the story.

[1] See Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for a story about a book concept she set aside only to hear that a friend was now writing on the same somewhat eccentric concept.

martha spongMartha Spong is the Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals, an ecumenical ministry engaged in creating resources and community for clergywomen.