What's your story?
90 years! What a milestone. For those of you wondering, that is 1,080 months. Perhaps we should think of it in terms of weekly services. In that case it is at least 4,680 Sundays. It’s 32,850 days as a church family. 788,400 hours spent as a community of faith. 47,304,000 minutes of conversation, laughter and memories that have filled our history. There really isn’t an adequate way to capture the significance of the milestone. Yet, sitting in this seat and preparing for our celebration for the past several months has led me to give greater consideration to the ways we document what God has done in our lives. How does a church best recount the work of the Lord?
I realize there are numerous ways for churches to celebrate these milestones. Our way is but one way to do it and I trust it was meaningful for each of you that were here. As great as June 2nd was, I do want to remind you that we will continue to celebrate this milestone throughout the rest of the year. In October, we hope to refocus on our unique 90 and 90 campaign to help address needs within the church and beyond. In November, we’ll have our yearbooks available and hope to have a time to celebrate and look back on the year. So, the celebration will continue. Yet, even with those things in mind, there is a focus that I would like for us to have as we move into the summer and fall months.
As I read through previous brochures of previous anniversary celebrations, one thing struck me. It seems customary, not just within churches but within our culture, to document our past with measurable statistics. Consequently, we refer back to the number of years a staff member served and the dates of those years. Or maybe we point to the construction of a building and the date it was completed. We can point to the number of dollars that were spent, the number of baptisms that took place and the number of missionaries that were sent. All of these details are good and important, but it struck me that one of the things we don’t always remember to capture is the story behind the statistic. As a result, I fear we can at times miss the depth with which the Spirit has guided the church. When we look through the pages of Scripture we see the promises of God revealed through remarkable stories. Stories of rescue, heartache and wonder. Stories that help us relate to our own needs and desires. Stories that help us see the character of God and the joy of His salvation. Just as important as it is for us to document the number of baptisms, we should be capturing the stories behind the decisions. We need to hear and preserve the stories of what God has done so we can continue to truly dream about what God will do.
One of the more notable aspects to our church’s history is the story of David Jacks and Burl Avery Crouch mortgaging their home to help the church through financial needs. That’s a powerful story. As a result, it’s one we keep telling. Similarly, a former church member sent our office a letter expressing her desire to join us for the 90th but an inability to do so since she now lives further away. In this letter she recounted the ways this church lifted her up after her husband’s passing and the care she felt in the years that followed. She talked about the grace and encouragement that only a church can provide. And in that letter I was reminded of how important it is to share our stories. So, as we continue to move forward with a desire to honor the past and anticipate the future, I want us mindful of our stories. Stories that help remind us of God’s promises. Stories that reveal the power of His presence. Perhaps in the months ahead, we’ll have opportunities to capture those stories. My hope is to ensure that those who come after us are able to look back on this season and see so much more than the dates and statistics, but the stories of God’s mighty works.
So, let me ask you … what’s your story? What is God writing in your life? My hope is that as we reflect on our own stories we see the promises of God once more and these promises embolden us to live a life that anticipates God to add to our number the stories of salvation.