My Grandpa Soltau is a legend. I grew up hearing so many crazy stories about his African safaris, the time he shot blanks in church to get his congregation’s attention, and the stories about the mob coming after him with intent to kill.
I could probably retell many of these stories. More than the individual stories, however, I have been taught that I come from a heritage of men and women who love Jesus. And though I never met my Grandpa Soltau, I have learned that he is something of a patriarch for the Mogck family. I’ve heard his stories and how he has, in many ways, shaped who we are today.
Storying [stohr-ee-ing] (verb)
Growing up, I heard countless times, “You get that from Grandpa Soltau,” or “that reminds me of the time Grandpa Soltau…” Being taught the similarities with, and applications of, my Grandpa Soltau’s stories has made me more of a Mogck.
This is the process of storying: teaching the family ethos, heritage, traditions, tendencies, and goals through telling the family stories. A family that is good at storying reinforces a sense of belonging by connecting the family story to personal stories.
The family of God has a family story that centers around the Eldest Brother, Jesus Christ, and how he reconciled rebellious children to the Father. It is through growing familiar with this Story that one begins to situate his or her own personal story in the family of God.
The story of God extends infinitely farther than the typical family story. God the Father is creator of everyone, and every family derives its name from him. He is the patriarch of every family in heaven and on earth (Eph. 3:15). Therefore, this story is pertinent to everyone, not just the biologically linked.
It is the duty of those adopted, born, and collectively married into the family of God to know the Story, understand his or her own place in it, and help others situate their own story under the redemptive arc of the story of God.
How to engage in storying
- Learn the story of God as it is told in Scripture. Try reading through the Bible from start to finish asking questions along the way as though you didn’t know what came next.
- Learn the personal stories of others (in the family or not yet). This is what we are currently doing in our Community Group, taking time to hear everyone’s story — in their own words — and then asking questions to understand it as much as is possible.
- Connect the two using Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration as a story-rubric for aligning, contrasting, and applying the story of God to the personal story. Watch Jeff Vanderstelt of Soma Communities teach how to do this (he starts explaining the rubric around 35 minutes in).
- Get regularly reacquainted with the story of God and each other’s stories. In a family, this happens really well around the dinner table. So, eat together. Speak the Story into each others’ lives.
- Dramatize the story of God with your life. This is what begins to happen as you understand the story of God to be your family story. Your mindset, values, beliefs, traditions are thus shaped by the family story. See how the family is the theater of the gospel.
So, what’s your story?