I shared in my last post, “Stories, Your Website’s Secret Sauce,” that if we want to convert website visitors into church visitors, we need to share stories.
In my next post, I will share some ways to share that content on your website in an engaging way. But first, we need to find some stories. This is a difficult first step for many churches. The kind of stories I am talking about are stories of life transformation, stories that demonstrate the transformative power of God.
If we can’t think of any stories like that at our church, we have one of two problems. Either:
1. God isn’t transforming any lives at our church.
2. We aren’t looking.
I believe the answer is usually number 2. If God isn’t transforming any lives at our church, we have some serious work to do. But it is pretty common for churches not to notice the great things that God is doing. When we don’t notice, we don’t know, and we have no stories to tell. So how do we start looking?
When I was a pastor at University UMC in San Antonio, our directing pastor, Charles Anderson, had a practice of starting or ending meetings with the question, “Where have you seen Jesus?” It threw people off at first. They were used to coming to meetings prepared to share data and information, not stories. So, for a while, people were pretty quiet. But, after a while, people realized that they might need to prepare for meetings in a different way, by looking around for the things God was doing in the congregation and community. After some time, we started having lots of stories.
If you want to know how God is transforming lives at your church, you are going to need to start asking the right questions. What if, at every meeting and gathering, someone asked, “Where have you witnessed God transforming someone’s life?” Don’t feel like you have failed if people just sit and stare. Just ask again at the next meeting. Ask at the personnel committee meeting. Ask at the finance meeting. Ask in Sunday school. Ask when your volunteers gather. Ask that person who drops into your office to complain about the temperature in the sanctuary. Don’t be discouraged if no one answers. But ask again, and again, and again. Eventually, they will realize you are not going to stop asking, and they will start looking around. When they do, they might find something. Don’t worry if those first stories aren’t great. Praise people for looking and keep asking. Eventually, they will get it. And, once they get it, they will love to share so they will keep looking.
Take notes. As we get to the next step, we will talk about how to ask permission to share. Some of the best stories will never be shared outside of the privacy of the space you first hear them. But you will find some who are happy to share their stories. We can be glad somebody took some notes when Jesus was changing lives around Galilee, Judea, and Samaria, or our New Testament would be rather dull.
Start asking, start collecting. In my next post, we will talk about ways to share those stories in ways that may lead other people to get to know Jesus for themselves.