When we think about being truly engaged with our few, we often consider the distractions that can take away from our already busy lives. But the truth is we all have certain tricks up our sleeve to help us to be more engaging, to be more relevant, and to be more present.
A while ago, I was with my group, and I needed an illustration to drive a point home. So I began sharing a story from my childhood. It was obvious pretty quickly that I had picked the right one. The signs were all there. Smiles started to appear. Fidgeting stopped. All eyes were on me. Even giggling and laughter followed. It was one of those times that was just a ton of fun.
As the service ended and I was making my way through our halls, I ran into one of my girls who looked up at me and said, “Ms. Karis, I really liked your story!” Then looking at me with a smile and big, sparkling blue eyes, she said, “Tell it again!”
I wish I could say that the story was sheer brilliance. I wish I could say that my art of storytelling was masterful. But the reality is that the kids were engaged because I was sharing a bit about me that they could totally relate to.Sharing stories is one of my favorite ways for small group leaders to be fully present—whether it’s telling one or listening to one. Sometimes it’s easy to plow through curriculum or race through activities as we try to manage all that can be handed to us. But if we remember to stop and think about all that God has done in our lives, we can remember that he has blessed us with stories. They are stories of strength and wisdom, fun accounts that prove a point, and challenging situations that aren’t meant to be kept to ourselves but to help grow those in our sphere of influence.
Hopefully, we have taken the time to prepare ahead. Preparing ahead helps us to engage in those truths in our own lives first. Dig through your history—through the funny stuff, the strange stuff, even the sad stuff. Where did God show up? What stories prove his goodness? Choose the right story, and after that, pair it with your lesson to pass those important truths on to your few more authentically. Over time, those stories will go so far in making faith real in the lives of children.
It is almost as if God sees us while we’re walking towards our groups, sees the stories that have been written in our lives so far, and says, “Tell it again.” So, whether we are reaching into the deep recesses of our childhood or relaying the crazy thing that happened just this morning, let’s be ready to share the stories that God has and is still writing in our lives.
Director of Children’s Strategy at Parker Hill Church