God's Message came to Ezekiel: "Son of man, make a riddle for the house of Israel. Tell them a story..." Ezekiel 17:1
I am asked about once a month to suggest books on storytelling for people interested in learning more. I rarely have a good response. I learned to tell stories from Mark Ellwood, my high school history teacher. I learned more from The Second City and The Groundlings. I learned about story as a kid from the wisdom of Joseph Campbell as translated to me via the imagination of George Lucas in the Star Wars Trilogy. Then I learned even more by reading the narrative of the Bible, particularly the gospels. To be honest, I've learned the most about storytelling by telling stories. It's kind of like driving or eating sushi...you just get used to it and then you are good at it.
Today I rediscovered someone else who taught me that storytelling is fundamentally a missiological activity. Lesslie Newbigin says the following in his tiny book, Truth and Authority in Modernity:
"Perhaps one final point needs to be made. If, in the postmodern world, we tell our story, we will be met with this rejoinder: "Yes of course. That is your story. But there are other stories. Why should I believe this one?" How does the Christian respond to this? Clearly we must resist the temptation to propose some supposedly more fundamental and more reliable truth on the basis of which the story of the gospel could be validated. Certainly we may try to show how the biblical story makes sense of human life in a way that no other can; but even this becomes clear only when one is a part of the story. In the end, the only answer we have to give is along such lines as these: "I have been called and commissioned, through no merit of mine, to carry this message, to tell this story, to give this invitation. It is not my story or my invitation. It has no coercive intent. It is an invitation from the one who loved you and gave himself up for you...That invitation will come with winsomeness if it comes from a community in which the grace of the Redeemer is at work. Whether or not it is accepted is not a matter in our power. To be anxious about it, to fret about it, is a sign of unbelief. The one who invites is in control, not we...We have to tell and live the story faithfully; the rest is in God's hands. What matters is not that i should succeed, but that God should be honored."
Seven years ago, I wrote this in the margin of that book: "If believed, this changes everything."
Turns out, for me, it has.