Telling our Story – Kevin Durham

Lee Lethers Podcast

This is My Story ministry (thisismystory.org) – Everyone has a story worth sharing and doing so creates connections that allows the gospel to be shared powerfully.

Why is storytelling important and why have you made it your life’s work?

Our culture puts people with status and fame on a pedestal. After hearing athletes share their story, many people thought their story was not worth sharing by comparison. God is the author and perfecter of the story, which means your story matters.

“My heart grew in love with the story of the gospel in every single believer.” A few minutes and some good questions can often reveal God’s work in someone’s life. Each Christian has a hugely important story. They need to discover it and live it out so others can see the gospel in it.

Your testimony is a powerful tool in sharing the gospel, and it does not have to be dramatic.

Story vs. Testimony:

Story is more about revealing rather than sharing. Sharing a story is inviting someone into where God is at in your life now. Not just sharing about how you came to Christ, but how He is working in you daily to turn you from sin. In the first 10 seconds share how you were saved, then show the real struggles in your life. Each person has 3 stories: 1. The Public story – everyone knows this one. 2. The Private story – only some people know this. 3. The Secret story – This is where Christ is warring against sin in your life. Boast in your weakness of vulnerability, so the strength of Christ can become attractive to everyone, because they also have their own secret story.

Youth today (Millennials and Gen Z) are much more okay with being vulnerable than the previous generations. It is more culturally acceptable but is also contradicted with the messages from social media. Being as vulnerable as possible, while still being appropriate, is how to really grab your students’ attention.

“Unpacking the gospel” – while there is great value in studying the Bible, you need to know how to relate it to yourself and others. Work through the connections revealed in a person’s story that could help them understand the gospel at work in their own lives.

Flip the script on our culture’s dramatic way of storytelling. Find the person in your ministry with the story no one would think to be inspiring. Spend some time learning the intricacies of how God worked in their lives and celebrate God’s grace in it.

Kevin and his story:

Kevin was a pastor’s kid who felt the pressure of being perfect. Hiding his sin made him feel like there was no way out of the hurt and suffering his sin caused. He was saved at a young age, knew the gospel and understood it. He wanted what he knew to be true about the gospel to be true to his own life. His sin made him feel worthless and unlovable by God. One day while a guest speaker opened the invitation, God said to make his secret life public so he could free him. The weight of his sin and the fear of admitting shame made saying the words of his confession feel like vomit. However, this is the moment in which Jesus heals. His father was a picture of the gospel to him that day, by wrapping his arms around him and telling him that he loved him and that both him and God forgave him.

Create a culture where there is an invitation for the imperfect. Storytelling enables you to unearth where kids are at in a much deeper way, so you can get them to a place where they can receive freedom.

The best personal worship is often after mourning over your sin, in the overwhelming feeling of love, forgiveness and mercy that comes after. You want people to know that the gospel heals in the struggles of now.

“Redemptive Listening:” this is discovering someone’s story. Learn where they are at and how God’s story can meet them. Ask good questions and listen. Mining through someone’s story to find a point of brokenness you can speak truth to will take time, and that time is important. Share the gospel when you see what they are longing for.

Evangelism: Don’t forget about the relationship part when training in evangelism. You need the joy, hope and compassion to believe that there is always a story there. We have to care enough about someone to even ask them a question in the first place. First, ask with zero pressure, just to care about them. Then you can focus on how to bring them to Christ.

“Miracle Matt” – The story of Matt Manzari. The film shares what Matt believes without preaching at his viewers. The corresponding 6-week curriculum dissects who Matt actually is, so the gospel is elevated through him. This leads students to think about their own life, what their story is, and where Christ is at right now in their life. After the video’s launch in May, coaching on how to implement the curriculum will be available to Youth Pastors, and Matt or Kevin may be able to come to your church and help launch the curriculum.

thisismystory.org – watch the film preview and sign up for a newsletter.

Closing Thoughts:

Revisit the depths of testimony and think of the story, not just the conversion. Unpack the gospel using the story.

Your kid’s stories can impact the lives of others.

Prepare some students to share their stories, so someone can share every time you meet. Listen and then subtly add connections about how the gospel connects to their story. When students realize their story can impact their friends, they are moved.