Bruce Feiler is an author and a regular columnist for The New York Times. But his family was falling apart. After an intergenerational spat, he began to wonder, “What is the ‘secret sauce’ that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, happy?” At that point, he didn’t know.
So Feiler embarked on a several-year-long research project. As he wrote in a New York Times article titled “The Family Stories That Bind Us,” the conclusion he reached was unexpected. “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”
In other words, if you want to build a strong family, tell each other your stories.
The same holds true for church families. Cohesive, caring congregations are knit together by shared stories. People in these churches share tales of faith, loss, and rekindled hope. They dare to be human with each other—to show the less-than-perfect reality of their everyday lives. And they testify to the unrelenting love of God.
In the Christian Reformed Church, congregations are beginning to incorporate storytelling in many different ways. Some have started a “faith sharing time” before Sunday school in which parents are invited to join their children to talk about where they’ve seen God at work that week.
Other churches invite parents to share a brief testimony at their child’s baptism. Youth groups are interviewing the senior citizens in their church, asking questions about their faith journey and talking together about how to build a life in Christ.
To gather and share these ideas and many more, Faith Formation Ministries (FFM) is creating a Faith Storytelling toolkit—an online collection of resources that will help equip churches become strong storytelling families. If you have a story to tell about how your congregation is sharing faith stories together, contact Sandy Swartzentruber, FFM’s resource coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Is Faith Formation Ministries?
Faith Formation Ministries (FFM) supports congregations as they carry out their callings in faith formation and discipleship.
FFM recognizes that each congregation has a unique identity, history, context, and calling. To that end, FFM listens, dialogues, and then suggests ideas and develops resources to strengthen these ministries.
Coaching conversations with our regional catalyzers range from a 15-minute check-in on a small detail to a year-long congregational revisioning journey, and everywhere in between. If you face a faith formation question or challenge, let's talk!