By Ryan Weber
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere for the past two years, you’ve probably heard of the amazingly successful Broadway musical, Hamilton. It tells the story, in hip hop, of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, his work as Secretary of the Treasury, and how he helped form so many of America’s foundational principles.
One of the coolest songs in that show is simply called, “My Shot.” It a song that Hamilton sings as he enters into America as a young immigrant and wants to make a name for himself. If you want to fully comprehend how cool (and white) I am, I will be more than happy to rap the song for you if I see you in the lobby.
The theme of Hamilton not throwing away his shot runs throughout the musical. He doesn’t want to throw away his shot at being a part of the Revolution, being George Washington’s private secretary, becoming Treasury of the Secretary, and potentially running for President. At the end, though (and this can’t be a spoiler if you know your American history), Hamilton does throw away his shot, quite literally, as he gets killed in a dual with Aaron Burr.
The musical does a phenomenal job portraying Hamilton’s thoughts as his life comes to a close. Instead of thinking about all the things he had accomplished, or priding himself on his own personal ambition, what he regrets the most about throwing away this shot is that he won’t be able to spend time with his wife.
When everything else faded away, the what of Hamilton’s life quickly transformed to a who.
The who (not the band, of course) makes our lives worth it. And in the context of our Storytellers series, those people to whom we decide to share our story and The Story make everything worth it. And when it comes to sharing our story with those around us, specifically our Top 5, we cannot throw away our shot. We’ve talked about the how and the what of our story, but I’m super excited to talk about who we get to share our story with!
I can’t wait to gather together with all of you this weekend.
If you’ve been hanging around Journey for more than a month or so…you may have heard us mention the phrase “Top 5.”
Let me take this opportunity to explain what we mean and why it matters to the mission and vision of Journey Church.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus has given us the task of spreading HIS STORY to EVERYONE in the entire WORLD! That’s one of the reasons we are currently in our “Storytellers” series at Journey – to help us get better at sharing our story.
WHY A TOP 5?
I don’t know about you, but when I hear EVERYONE and WORLD – it’s not very personal. In our day of global news and connectivity, sometimes we can be desensitized and the larger the number, the less motivated we are. We know that there are roughly 89,000 unchurched people in the LKN area! (8 mile radius of our Huntersville location.) There are a few people that get really excited about that number, but most just see it as a mass of nameless, faceless people that we refer to as “them.”
When we narrow down EVERYONE to 5 people we know personally – the charge of the Great Commission can really take hold. When I read Matthew 28 and put the names of the 5 people that I know and am praying for in place of “nations”, it becomes a very personal challenge to be a witness to those folks.
“Matt, go and make disciples (share His story) to Jim, Sally, Tom, Sam, and Bryan – baptizing them and teaching them all that I’ve commanded of you.” WOW! If that doesn’t make you feel responsible for being a better storyteller – I don’t know what will!
HOW TO DECIDE ON A TOP 5
I keep it simple. I renew my list every year. I write down the names of people that are in my circle of relationships (neighbors, friends, parents of kids’ friends, co-workers, networking group, the girl I see at the salon, the guy I see at my favorite pub, etc.). This usually becomes a long list. Most of them I cancel out if I know that they already have a growing relationship with Jesus. The rest, I just pray over and ask God to give me clarity on WHO he wants me to focus on.
Obviously, your list can be more than 5 or less than 5. The goal is not the number; the goal is to personalize the Great Commission in your life. Not to allow our minds to settle for the faceless, nameless crowd that we are trying to reach – but give them a face and a name!
At Journey, we exist to Humbly Point Everyone to Absolute Hope (Mission). WHY? Because we want to see Everyone’s Story Changed by Absolute Hope (Vision). This is the reason we have a Top 5. To not glaze over the word EVERYONE and let a year go by where we haven’t actively shared our faith with a single person. When you sit in church, and you hear someone repeat our church’s mission – I want you to think of your Top 5.
Who is it that God has placed in your life TODAY that needs Hope?
Who has God been whispering to you to re-connect with (old co-workers, neighbors, etc)?
Who has God given you to pray for every day?
This is your TOP 5.
I am excited to share on Sunday about how to tell your story. There are many reasons why we don’t really share our stories, but it can be narrowed down to a couple of primary reasons. For example, many people don’t share their story because of fear. Many people are afraid of what people may think of their story. Once we are confident in our relationship with our Creator then we can boast about Him and His work in our life. Look at how Paul talked about his story.
2 Corinthians 11:27-30 (NIV2011) 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV2011) 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Paul shares his weaknesses with others. This type of sharing often freaks people out because they are afraid of what people will think of them. Paul suggests regardless of what people may think about us, when we are vulnerable with others about our weaknesses it points to the sufficiency of Jesus in our lives! We must trust that it doesn’t matter what we look like to others. In our “post the best pose” social media driven society, this type of vulnerability doesn’t really compute.
This fear of being vulnerable it just one example of what we must overcome to be able to tell our stories. I hope to see you on Sunday so that we can further understand how to tell our stories that have been changed by the greatest story ever told!
See you Sunday!
As we continue to talk through what it means to be Storytellers in our world, I am reminded of our theme verse for this series. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT) I think this is a great verse to rest in for two reasons. First, it reveals that our life begins and ends in the worship and service of Jesus Christ. Secondly, it challenges us to be prepared to explain why a life that is rooted in Jesus Christ gives us an overwhelming sense of hope in this life. As followers of Christ it is not only important to live a life that is rooted in Christ, but it is our call in this world to share the reason for our hope with those who need to experience it in their lives. Here are three simple ways that we can share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ with others.
1. Live it before you speak it.
It can be said that people watch what you do before they ever listen to what you say. As someone who proclaims a faith and a hope in Jesus Christ it is important to realize that people will watch how I treat my family, friends, and the world long before they give any thought to what I might have to say about Jesus Christ. One of the easiest ways to share your story is to live a life that would make them wonder how you have the hope and joy that you do in this life.
2. Start with those close to you.
We call this our “Top 5” at Journey. What we mean is that if we are to really have the opportunities to share our story in this life, it will most likely be with someone that you are already close to. Whether it’s family, neighbor, co-worker, gym member, or whoever it is, there is a greater chance they will listen to your story because you are already personally invested in their life. I am convinced that the closer we are to folks, the greater the impact our story can have on their life for the Kingdom of God.
3. Keep it real.
When it comes to sharing your story you have to be careful not to over spiritualize things. There is great value in just being yourself and allowing people to see the fact that you may not have it all together, that the hope you have is not in yourself, but in Jesus Christ. People are given “Real-Life” everywhere now from social media to reality tv. So it is only natural for them to see real people living a life of faith. It is our responsibility to be honest and real, even if it means they see some our faults and imperfections. When people see the real you it allows them to share their struggles too.
It isn’t easy to share your story, but that is our call as followers of Jesus Christ. If we can become people that live a life worth sharing, continually invest in the lives of those close to us, and dare to be real with people, it will give us opportunities to share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
If you’ve never heard of StoryLine (by Donald Miller), I cannot suggest reading it strongly enough!
The concept of Storyline is to BETTER UNDERSTAND what makes a GREAT STORY – GREAT! And when you know the answer to this question, you can translate it into personally LIVING A BETTER STORY!
Here’s what I believe.
A Faith Worth Telling = A Life Worth Living
This goes hand in hand and can be flip flopped for the same impact.
If you’re living an experience filled life and faith, with all the ups and downs that come your way – you will have something significant to share with others. If you are sharing stories worthy of others hearing about – chances are you are living a life full of experiences and faith worth living. The key to unlocking BOTH of these truths is to engage in a BETTER STORY OF FAITH.
Once upon a time…Christianity was a faith worth telling others about. WHY? Because Christians lived a life worth sharing. They were risk takers, change makers, and became world changers. They proclaimed the gospel with boldness in Christ and respect for others. They had a faith that drew people in – not one that pushed people away.
The Gospel story has not changed.
The tenements of our Faith have not changed.
The Power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us has not changed.
We’ve settled to live stories that make much of the temporal, and little of the eternal. We’ve lived stories driven by fear, anxiety, and shame – not of FREEDOM and HOPE. We’ve settled to live stories filled with opinions and preferences and have lost the value of TRUTH and LOVE.
It’s my deepest desire to see people share their faith in Jesus. However, in order to do that – we need to accept that many of us may not be living a life of faith that is worth sharing! Let’s all LIVE A BETTER STORY!
Join us on Sunday at 9am & 11am in Huntersville and 11am in Denver as we continue our series “Storytellers.”
Evangelism is simply a word. But as you just read it, you may have had some very negative thoughts pop into your mind. If you had any negative thoughts pop into your mind than try to stick with me. I have no intention of changing your mind. I just want to encourage you that evangelism doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
Jesus says this about Himself in the book of Luke.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21 (NKJV)
This is Jesus saying he was sent to preach the gospel and that He is the gospel! That phrase preach the gospel in Greek looks like this – euangelizō. Do you see any similarities?? This is where we get out word evangelize. It literally means to announce/declare the good news. What is the good news? He says He came to preach to the poor. Let me first suggest to you that He is not talking about a financial poverty but a spiritual poverty. Those who are spiritually poor (all humanity) get to hear about how Christ brings healing to the brokenhearted, liberty to those who are captive to sin, sight for those who are spiritually blind, and freedom to those who are oppressed spiritually.
Here is how evangelism works and why it is not a dirty word. When you have been healed, set free, given sight, and experienced freedom that is really good news. Jesus declares that He is the only way to really experience those things. The way that others are going to hear about it is that He, Jesus, God, has charged His church (those who have say they have received what He brings) to TELL others about the good news. Who would want to keep all these good things a secret?????
Evangelism shouldn’t be dirty, scary, or intimidating. Evangelism is literally learning how to tell others the good things that Jesus has done in your life. If you don’t feel you have anything to tell then let me strongly suggest to you that you have never received Jesus. When we receive what Jesus has promised, I guarantee you have a story to tell. Maybe you don’t know how to tell it yet, maybe you have seen others do it poorly and you don’t want to be lumped in “with them,” but if you have genuinely received Christ and you believe in what He says, you have a story to tell.
I look forward to you learning more about how your story and the story of God intersects and how we the church can better declare that story to those around us!
Hope to see you all on Sunday!