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Thursday, February 4, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Mark 4

There’s been a subtle shift that has occurred in the landscape in our faith communities. For many years, some folks in faith communities articulated their faith (and the positions their faith compelled them to take) using facts and statistics.

When we talked about the need for economic justice in migrant communities, for instance, how did we build our case? We resorted to statistics that talked about the scope of the problem and perhaps the ways in which we benefited from the labor of the migrant populations – hoping this sensitize people to this vulnerable population.

And when we talked about controversial issues like abortion, how did we build our case? Once again, we used statistics to show how some populations were denied access to health care and built a case why it was important for all people to have access to health care systems in all areas including reproductive health.

That approach may have been engaging, but often it failed to change people’s position.

And why is that?

We failed to change people’s positions because we forgot to engage another piece of them: their hearts.

The older I get, the more I realize how wise Jesus was in pointing all of us toward the method that is most effective in reaching folks and causing them to change their position. After telling the parable/story of the scattered seed, Jesus said: “But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight.”

And the author(s) of Mark later noted: “With many stories like these, [Jesus] presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke.”

The power of the story is that stories engage both head and heart.

I know it’s easier to use facts and statistics in communicating our beliefs and passions with others. It’s easier because we have something in front of us – buffering us from the possibility of pain and rejection if the other person does not respond the way we like.

Today, I would invite you to move beyond facts and statists and begin incorporating stories into your efforts to connect with others. While the sense of vulnerability in sharing your stories with others might seem frightening at first, you just might be surprised how much your story affects people in ways that facts and statistics don’t.

Til next time…

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