Stretch as you seek to tell that 'old, old story'

by Bob Turner

“Tell me the old, old story/of Jesus and his love.” So goes the old hymn, and it is still true that the church’s calling is to tell that old story. 

The challenge we face is how to tell it in new and fresh ways in a culture that keeps changing with stunning rapidity. How can we communicate the timeless truth of the gospel in ways that will touch minds and hearts bombarded by a steady barrage of competing messages and noise? How do we tell that old, old story in ways that are compelling and attractive?

As we seek to communicate to those outside the church, we must also find ways to keep persons within our own fellowships informed and inspired. Our church may have great plans and aspirations, but what will come of them if the people do not embrace and share the vision? How do we capture their hearts and minds and get them on board?

For pastors and leaders in small congregations, this presents yet another question: how can I do all the things that need to be done on a schedule that is already packed and with resources that are already stretched thin?

These are some of the questions I have faced in my career. Having served for nearly twenty-five years in small congregations and organizations as a campus minister, an associate pastor and a senior pastor, I have faced the challenge of finding the time, resources and energy to handle worship planning, leadership development, pastoral care, communications work and administrative tasks all in the same week, and then week after week after week.

I’ve also found it difficult to locate creative partners who match up theologically in order to assist in tasks essential to telling the story – tasks such as designing promotional materials, producing newsletters, creating and maintaining web sites and more.

As a result, over the years I gained a fair amount of expertise in desktop publishing, web design, developing e-newsletters, creating slide shows for worship services and announcements, and so on. I have also amassed a considerable repertoire of creative elements for worship, Bible study, or other church settings—elements such as dramatic pieces, poetry, litanies and calls to worship, prayers and first-person sermons.

I also have begun creating what I call liturgical video shorts—5- to 7-minute videos on liturgical themes, including baptism, Holy Week and Ash Wednesday. Ways to make that old, old story sound (and look) fresh and vibrant again.

Out of necessity I learned how to do all these things, which ultimately resulted in the creation of 808Turner Enterprises (808 simply stands for BOB). Telling that old, old story requires us to further stretch ourselves in ways we’d perhaps never thought of. And, it also calls us to seek out like-minded creative partners who can help us along the way.

I encourage you to find what works for you in your context as you seek to tell the stories. It’s a process of discovery, but a necessary one as we proclaim the good news of the gospel.

Bob Turner is an ordained American Baptist minister and the owner of 808Turner Enterprises (www.808turner.com). One of his newest resources, a Lenten devotional book, can be found on Alliance Connect (https://allianceofbaptists.org/allianceconnect)

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