Gather Stories as If Lives Are in the Balance

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Yesterday we talked about the 7 numbers that matter most in small group ministry.  As important as quantitative measurement is, today we need to talk about gathering stories, the qualitative aspect of small group ministry.  Why?  Let’s just say that while your ministry intelligence depends on the numbers we gathered yesterday, lives actually hang in the balance and depend on the stories you gather.

Lives Hang in the Balance

Really?  Lives hang in the balance?  Uh…..yeaaah!  Stories might be the single most compelling ingredient whether you’re talking about recruiting leaders or casting vision for a small group as the optimal environment for life-change.  As much as you might hope that a powerful sermon extolling the first century example of Acts 2:42 will compel a response, often overwhelming twenty-first century evidence suggests that nothing is as compelling as personal testimony.

How do lives hang in the balance?  Every opportunity to persuade and encourage an important spiritual step, might be the last opportunity.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic, there are lives in the balance every time the doors are opened or the conversation ensues.  Every time.

How to Gather the Most Compelling Stories

There are at least four ways to gather stories:

  1. Coaches can be taught to ask, “What’s the best thing happening in your group?” or, “What’s the best thing that happened in your meeting last night?”  These simple questions often prompt the recounting of story unlikely to be heard by senior pastor or staff (without the question).
  2. Make it your practice to provide regular opportunities for small group leaders to share stories.  This form (or your own version) completed at a small group leader gathering will often surface several compelling stories.
  3. Become a story maven; a collector of stories.  Always be asking people for their story.  People generally love talking about their story.  Simply making it your practice to ask for their story often leads to a very compelling discover.
  4. With permission, pass on the best stories to your senior pastor.  With a little work, these stories can become an extremely compelling live or video testimony; a powerful moment in a message or on the web.
No matter how you work at gathering stories, what you collect often provides the most important key to inspiring next steps for unconnected people.  Don’t miss the opportunity to share stories that prompt life-change.

Want do you think?  Want to add an idea?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Wayne Hedlund on January 18, 2012 at 7:27 am

    This is so true. Some of the most powerful Sunday services, small groups, and special events we have held included real life testimonies of people’s lives being changed. A 5 minute relevant testimony will outshine the pastor’s message almost every time. It’s also a great way to end your message, inspire people to action, or solicit a response.

  2. Anonymous on January 18, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Wayne! Appreciate your affirmation! Story gets neglected without intentionality.


  3. mark riggins on January 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    This is great Mark! I’ve downloaded your form. Simple/practical. Grateful.

  4. Anonymous on January 21, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Glad you found it helpful Mark!