After being snowed out last week, we had our second Encounters with Jesus storying group tonight. We had another good turnout, with most of the same people coming back a second time. The narrative and participant guide, including the response page, are available here.
One of the challenges tonight with the story was that this one had a little more fictionalized content than the last one. I have mixed feelings about the fiction. The most important thing is to clearly communicate which parts come from my own imagination and which parts come from the Bible and which parts are historically verifiable. We were able to make that clear during our session tonight, but I think for the resources I'm going to have to go back through and do different fonts for each of those. If we don't do the fictionalization, then we'd have to do some introductory background information, which sort of takes away from the storying atmosphere. At the same time, I don't want to take away from Scripture and the power of the stories by interspersing too much of my own vision and imagination. But perhaps this is what pastors always struggle with. Because how can we teach people without bringing in some of our own culture and interpretation and life experience? For the time being, I'm trying to keep the fiction as the kind of details that just give background of what life was like, but I may have gone a little too far with this story.
On the positive side of things, we had some really meaningful discussion about what life with the Eternal One looks like. We talked about how to find it, how to grow in it, and how it should actually look. There were some really insightful comments from everyone involved, including those with no real background in the church.
The application time was amazing. Some people are really getting into the drawing part of it, and some just write down answers to the questions. But everyone is actually really willing to be real and then to share what they drew or wrote. We're being really intentional about praying for each one as they share. Today's question was what you are looking for in life and inviting people to ask Jesus for those things.
So in all, it seems like there are more positives than negatives here. What's even more amazing is being able to see God work in the people's lives throughout the week. I've had some awesome opportunities to have conversations with people, building on what we've been talking about during the week. I can't emphasize enough how the relationships that I have with the people who come are just as important as the content we're covering. I think the content and approach are important, and they're working for where we're at right now. But without relationships, I don't think that we'd be seeing the kind of fruit that we are.