Stories have the power to inspire and engage our hearts. A good story invites us to embark on a journey with it’s characters. They come in many forms: a poem, movie, song, book or TV show. My favorite story being told right now is SWAMP PEOPLE. I am a bit behind the rest of the world with watching this reality TV show on the History Channel. I watched the first season on Netflix and bought season 2 on iTunes. Just watched episode 1 of season 2 last night. Wow…is looks like another killer season!
Why Swamp People? Although I live in San Diego, my hometown in New Orleans. The series is filmed deep in swamps of Louisiana. Even though I grew up in the suburbs of a big city, Swamp People reminds me of home in many ways. The cajun’s featured on the show are quite a cast. They remind me of many fishing buddies my dad’s had over the years (minus the cajun accents). They value family, loyalty and a sense of community connectedness. They share a passion for alligator hunting. Each week, viewers join the real-life cast as they attempt to “tag out” and catch their given allotment of alligators for the 30 day season. One of the characters, Troy Landry, is a cajun version of my dad (who fishes trout & red fish rather than alligators). His personality is likable and everybody in the area knows him. He’s known as “King of the Swamp”, well respected and the best alligator hunter in the area. My wife and kids are loving the show as well. When watching an episode we’re not in our living room watching TV. Instead we’re actually “on” the boat with Troy, Junior, Trapper Joe and Tommy. For my family, it is more than a TV show but has been a way for us to re-connect with our southern roots.
What stories move you? What TV shows or movies inspire you? Stories have a way of captivating us, don’t they? I think that’s why Jesus told so many of them. Some stories got the religious people mad and some opened the eyes of it’s listeners. Jesus knew the power of stories!
For those of us leading children and preteens, we should be reminded of the power that stories hold. Tell them often.
Here are a few ways you can use stories to maximize your impact:
1. Invite preteens into the characters of the Bible. Tell a story in such a way that students feel the fear that Daniel felt when going into the lion’s den. Invite them to feel the victory Daniel felt when God protected him.
2. Invite students into your stories of walking with Jesus. Share both your struggles and victories. For example, talk about how you became a follower of Jesus. How did you struggle with the decision? Why did you finally decide to surrender? What were your thoughts and feelings at the time?
3. Open student’s eyes to what their favorite movies/music can teach them about God and His ways. As you’re watching movies and listening to music on the radio, what does God speak to you? What can preteens learn about God through a particular movie, video game, TV show or song? Learn to take in media with an antenna up for anything that can be used to point students to Jesus.
The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God by telling stories. He comments on the world around him, helping us see that the Kingdom of God is bigger and broader than we can ever imagine. Sometimes an idea is so big and beautiful that the only way to talk about it is to tell a story. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that grows into a wild bush, yeast that works its way through dough, food coloring that transforms the color of water, the smell of bacon that fills a room, a yawn that springs from face to face, a YouTube video that circles the Internet. We are a part of this big and beautiful story. How will we tell it? How will we bring it to life?
Once Upon a Parable helps preteens discover the true meaning of the Kingdom of God.