Using Failures as Stories

Cody Ray Charland | Sep 14, 2011

Our friend Lars Rood from Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas Texas, just came out with his first book titled, Youth Ministry on a Shoestring: How to Do More with Less. While much of the book deals with the financial side of being a youth pastor, there’s a lot of practical content about being more efficient in ministry.

One of the topics Lars writes about is the “buzz” that we can generate as youth workers. Stories are valuable resources that we need to use productively and wisely. When people ask how we’re doing, we typically have a story to tell what’s going on.

We live in a narrative culture. People absolutely love good stories and no doubt you’ve felt the pressure to have something good to reply with. Harry Potter didn’t become a billion-dollar franchise simply because the special effects were great. It was memorable, personal, and transformative.

When starting to change the youth culture of your church, you might see more failure than success. This is often the experience of youth workers who participate in our Sticky Faith cohorts. Are we supposed to just bury the bad and only advertise the good?

Stories don’t always need to be successful in order to be used. Lars points out that our failures as youth workers can be just as powerful and effective. These stories don’t always need to be about the successful, winning teams.

Scott Cormode of Fuller Seminary writes, “The first duty of a Christian leader is to provide a Christian perspective, an interpretative framework for people who want to live faithful lives” (from Making Spiritual Sense). Sometimes that perspective is about how bad things are.

And that’s okay. Use the current story to change tomorrow for the better. Be efficient in your narratives.

As we tell the readers in Sticky Faith, “You have more power than you think to bring about change through the stories you tell.”

Cody Ray Charland

Cody Ray Charland is a second year MATM student at Fuller’s Pasadena campus. He holds a BA in Physical Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. As Project Assistant with the Fuller Youth Institute, he handles social media, and helps with writing, technology, and research. He was formerly a Young Life leader as well as Youth Pastor at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC. Cody enjoys the outdoors, all things Tar Heel, and barbecue.


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