Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story – those God redeemed from the hand of the foe, those God gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. - Psalm 107:2 (NIV)
If this feels like a shameless plug for my friends’ church, that’s because it sort of is. Vince Amlin and Rebecca Anderson planted a church in Chicago called Gilead (#NotThatGilead). I was lucky enough to be present for some of the first Holy Spirit-inspired conversations that led to its founding. In their own description, Vince and Rebecca call it a “queer, story-telling, bar church.” Put another way, one of their core community disciplines is telling true stories that save lives.
Every time they gather for worship, the Word of God is proclaimed. It is proclaimed in the breaking of bread and the reading of scripture and the preached word. The Word of God is proclaimed in stories from the lives of people who go to church there. Stories of first loves and coming out of the closet, stories of life-changing encounters, stories of losing faith and finding it again, stories of the ordinary ways that God shows up in our lives and in the world.
Your story is the gospel, too. You do not need to be ordained to proclaim good news. You do not need a gift for rhetoric to touch people in the deepest places of their spirits. All you need to do is to be willing to share stories from your life that mean everything to you, those that you hold close to your heart.
Today, I want you to try something. Get a hold of someone who is important to you, and tell them a story from your life that they have never heard before. Make it a memory that is important to you and tell the truth. If you do that, it will mean the world to them. If you do that, it will be the gospel.
God, thank you for redeeming me and putting me on the path to life.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.