As I was reading a church newsletter the other day, a message from a pastor friend, William Adams, resonated deep within. Pastor Adams suggested a simple task in this newsletter which people may find themselves too busy to undertake- connection, true connection . . . listening to one another's story. How beautiful in its simplicity, but how crucial an element for an involved web of meaningful connections. These four simple words, "What is your story?" can make all the difference in the lives of both the one who asks the initial question and the one who responds resulting in authentic connection. As Pastor Williams notes:
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands in not quickly broken.
People may feel welcomed in a church the first time they come but later drift away because their connection isn’t deep enough. They don’t feel our surface relationships can sustain the kind of deep meaningful transformation that God wants to create in all of our lives. And that isn’t Christian.
The problem is we cannot share those kinds of deep meaningful, life changing relationships as we shake hands briefly on a Sunday morning. We cannot help others or ask for help from others unless we share a relationship that is more than a “how-do-you-do”. All Christ centered ministry is relational. That begins with listening to one another. . .
When someone calls to ask if they could speak with you one-to-one please accept the invitation. When you see someone new in church please ask them out for a soda or cup of coffee and listen to their story. And when someone shares with you a deep hurt, a shameful past or current situation, a difficult problem or loneliness simple say you will always be here to pray and listen.*
I think back five years ago and am so grateful I asked that initial question of my now dear woman blessing friend while at Bug Camp with my two-year-old and six-month-year old. Taking a leap of faith, I asked for her e-mail so that we may make a further connection for our kiddos as well as each other. In the interim, we have created book clubs, coached teams, facilitated groups, cried together, had great belly laughs together, prayed together, and worshipped together. What a difference four simple words can make. So, go out on that limb today and ask someone out for that cup of coffee or soda. Approach someone you do not know at church and begin by asking his/her name. Tap the shoulder of a possible woman/man blessing at your next outing and listen to his/her story.
A HUGE prayer of thanks to Pastor William Adams for allowing me to share his message.
*Taken from New Bethel UMC's October 12 Newletter