"Want to change the world? Make friends, throw parties, tell stories, and give gifts." ~Andrew Jones
Where could we get together? Who could we reach out to? What kinds of things could we do? Let your imagination run wild, and have fun with this! Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Where could we get together?
Go build a campfire, duh! Haven't you seen every picture on this website? ;D If that's not posible, how about that firepit in your backyard? If it's too cold there's always the coffeeshop or pub, and you never know who might be listening in. You could also try a community center or library, especially if you're starting a group where anyone's welcome. People will feel safe visiting, and the center can list you on their calendar. Or how about outdoor locations you already go to, like the park or the beach?
Who might be interested?
Of course there's your friends, they'd probably be your best starting-point. Or if you have family in the area, how about them? This could be a great way of strengthening those relationships, not to mention you won't feel guilty about only seeing them at Thanksgiving anymore. Seriously consider your neighbours also. Even if they're non-religious or belong to another religion, storytelling is so laidback they might really enjoy it. And if they're already believers, it could be the start of a beautiful experience of local church. And how about your coworkers, what do you do over lunch hour? How about grabbing a bite together over a story and some brisk discussion, and making everybody else jealous?
Also, don't forget the kids in your life! Children love stories, and statistically speaking most people come to faith when they're in their childhood or teens. Plato had it right when he said "Let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our stories shall be the education of our heroes." What if you started a storytelling group with the kids in your neighborhood, and the permission of their parents? This is even easier if you're a parent and your kids already play together.
That's just the people in your present social circle! If you wanted to reach out, you could start a storytelling group with the inmates at the closest penn. Often all it takes is a call to the chaplain. Or how about the homeless people at that park downtown? Or the seniors at the old folks home? Ask God to give you some ideas, he might surprise you with something that could be the start of a great adventure. Like, assuming you don't enjoy being bored.
What could we do for fun?
You don't have to get together and only tell the story and talk about it. Throw a dance party at your place, or a costume party! Do a potluck. If you're outdoors, play games!
Or your group might enjoy helping people with things like yardwork, home repairs, vehicle maintenance, or babysitting. Like what if you took that single mom's kids to the park for the afternoon and did the story there?
There are tons of interests you could create a storytelling group around, too. Riding motorcycles, for instance. Or watching the UFC. Or knitting. The neat thing about interest groups is that even if someone isn't into the Bible, they may hang out with your group because they're into whatever it is. What starts with flyfishing, could end with fishing for men.
How can I get the word out?
Let's say you're starting a group and wanting to reach out to new people. Word of mouth still works best, because people trust what their friends tell them. Social media can help with that, let's say if you create an event or a group on Facebook that can easily be shared. You could put an ad in Craigslist or Kijiji, or create a group on meetup.com or couchsurfing.com. Some of it depends on who you're trying to reach, too. Once I started a potluck group for college students. So I put up posters on the college billboards and at all the bars in town, and left notes on the vehicles in the college parking lot. The response was great!
"You could say that telling a story is the pretext for getting together in a personal way." ~Nancy Rambusch
This one's pretty obvious. You could try doing this stuff by yourself, but your friends might get worried. Especially if you're miming your stories.
One a more serious note though, we were created to be social creatures. Family, friends. It's first instinct to get together, even for introverts who need more alone time. The question is, what do you do when you hang out? For many people, they go to religious services and are all spiritual, but then in real life or when they're hanging out with their friends, God barely crosses their minds. It's like they're living double lives. The challenge is to find God in your normal everyday life, and let your story become his. That's where getting together with your real friends, in regular places, and having honest conversations about spirituality, comes in.
There's another reason. People don't change by themselves. People are changed through their interactions with others. So if you want to change, you need to find some new friends, talk about different things, and see yourself in a new way. Same goes if you want to change the world. You need to create a new culture - one that's based on simple yet powerful rituals that anyone can do, and rooted in groups where people can belong truly madly and deeply. For us, that ritual is gutwrenchingly honest storytelling and conversating. And that group is the one we want you to start.
Of course you realize, this stuff isn't new. This is exactly what Jesus did. A church was basically a group of friends who got together at someone's house to tell the stories of the Messiah and enjoy their relationship with their new spiritual Dad. It was so simple and powerful that it flipped the Roman Empire. And it's still going.
"Those who tell the stories, rule the world." ~Hebrew Proverb
how to start a group
Ok. So now that you're all inspired, just go for it! Don't overthink everything or wait until it's perfect. Strike while the iron's hot, and send some invites right now to your first shindig. You can always experiment and change things as you go.
How about the storytelling bit, do you feel a little nervous? Don't worry, that's normal. Everybody loves a good story, and they'll enjoy it even if it's a little choppy. Storytelling is an ancient art that takes practice, and it may take awhile for you to find your own voice and feel totally comfortable. But you've gotta start somewhere, right?
Once your group gets started, here are some questions you'll probably want to figure out together:
1. Where do we want to get together? Not that it has to always be the same place.
2. When? Weekly, every other week, or maybe even just once a month for starters?
3. What kind of fun stuff do we want to do?
4. Who's telling the story? As the host you'll probably tell the first story, but after that it's up for grabs. You could take turns, or if somebody's really into it they could tell the story every time. Not that that would help the rest of you become better storytellers, just sayin. Whatever you decide, the 'how to story' pdf should come in handy.
5. Which stories are we doing? You could storytell through a book of the Bible. Or go through the parables. Or you could leave it up to the storyteller to pick the story! The lists of stories could help.
6. What do we do when we hit a snag? That may be where we come in. Like if you wanted to take this stuff and run with it by yourself you could. But it might be a little lonely...and not just for you, for your group too. You'd never believe this in the honeymoon phase, but at some point your group is going to go through a hard time, and if you're just out there by yourselves you're probably going to break up. It's how humans work. When that challenge comes, what's going to make all the difference is knowing you're connected to other groups, that you belong to something bigger. And that's not just true of your group, either - same goes for you as a group host. When crunchtime hits and you need some outside help or advice, you'll have people to go to. Of course, we're not going to tell you what to do. We'll just be there to offer support and practical help. And who knows, maybe the opposite will happen and you'll never need us, but you'll find other group leaders reaching out to you.
Not to mention, it's just way more fun being part of a movement! So before you do anything else, join here.
starting more groups
"The destiny of the world isn't determined by the battles that are lost and won. It's determined by the stories that are loved and believed in." ~Harold Goddard
We mentioned earlier that storytelling is more caught than taught, that it's something you really need to see for yourself. This is even more true for the experience of entering a story and talking through it as a group - there's an energy you can't describe. It's electrifying. It's like God walks into the room. People get emotional and break down crying. It's more real than anything else you've experienced.
When stuff like this happens, people talk and it spreads like wildfire. If that happens with your group, the day might come when you get too big. Either you can't all fit in the same room, or there are just too many people to have that same depth of intimate conversation. This could be your best day or your worst day ever, depending on what you do next.
Mathematically speaking, you have four options. You can add, subtract, divide, or multiply. Add means you do what most churches do when they hit this point - get a building, program everything, and see how big they can get. Subtract means you stop growing and, by default, start shrinking. Divide means you chop the group in two and then miss half your old friends. Multiply means you keep your original group of friends together, and help the newer people start new groups that will hopefully grow and start more new groups.
It's up to you, but you can probably guess what we'd suggest. :) And it probably goes without saying that we'd love to have the leaders of your new groups join our circle of group leaders here, and start sharing their group's stories with the movement. Let's stay family, and see how big and bright we can make this fire!
"Go and make disciples of all the nations." ~Yeshua of Nazareth
Ready to start a group? Do it here!
Not ready? Tell us what's holding you back here.
let's do this!