Finally, a little while ago, I ran across an article that said, in part:
Finding ways for people to share their stories wasn’t about investing a lot of time researching the best curriculum or purchasing supplies. I relied on something that already flowed freely and found its way into nearly every gathering of the church. Coffee. The large percolator coffee pot was started before worship every Sunday. During silent pauses of a prayer, we could hear the pot entering its final stages of brewing. After the benediction and handshakes, the worshipers moved from the sanctuary to the parlor, where they filled their cups and shared with one another the stories of their week.I've heard many jokes about our weekly Coffee Hour being "the third sacrament", but it really does serve as a time for people to grab a cup of coffee and a treat and have some conversations about what is happening in their lives, a story of the past, of a prayer for the future. People often share quite naturally, much like walking is quite natural.
What is not quite as natural as sharing snippets of stories is sharing more deeply with one another. Sharing our spiritual stories has a power that taps into that "new beginnings" power of God. As we speak, God speaks new things into being. This is very much the "witness to God's grace" part of our stated mission. Like our muscles, our ability to identify and witness God's grace in our lives atrophies if we fail to exercise it. So, one of the things we'll be doing in the next few months is looking for opportunities to share our stories of God's grace and power in our own lives. I'd love to hear your stories, and I'll do my best to weave my own (or particularly good ones from others, anonymously) into my sermons as well. Stretch!