Todd Miechiels from The 315 Project - The Church is in a state of Story Poverty

Todd Miechiels from The 315 Project - The Church is in a state of Story Poverty

The Ministry Growth Show

April 26, 2021

Episode Notes:

This week on The Ministry Growth Show we're joined by Storyteller and Founder of The 315 Project, Todd Miechiels. Todd has a passion for helping the Church tell better stories more often. In this episode, we discuss the power of storytelling and introduce an idea The 315 Project and Reliant Creative have been ideating on for a couple of months. The Church is currently in a state of Story Poverty. We've all been called to share our story and testify of what God's done in our lives, and yet the stories of how God is working in the lives of His people often go unshared. How can we end story poverty in the Church? #endstorypoverty

Episode Transcript:

You're listening to the Ministry growth Show brought to you by Reliant Creative, the creative agency for gospel centered ministries. Find out more at Reliant Creative dot org. Welcome to the Ministry Growth Show, a podcast dedicated to helping churches and ministries grow and make more effective impacts for the Kingdom of God in an ever changing digital world, whether you're building and growing a gospel center ministry or leading a church, if you want insight into the strategies, struggles, challenges and successes of other ministry leaders, you've come to the right place.

Welcome back to the ministry Growth Show Today on the show, I'm going to be talking with Todd Michaels, he is the founder and Director of the 3 15 project. Todd. Thanks for being on the show, Zach. It is my pleasure brother.

Yeah, I'm excited to have you. We've we've had quite a few conversations and the recent months and I'm excited to to share and explore what we've been talking about. Um can you tell us a little bit about your ministry background and experience as we kind of lay some foundations for today's conversation? Yeah, I'll give you the super quick origin story and you can ask me to elaborate if you want or we can share it another time.

So I came to Christ at 35 years old, I'm 49 right now and about four years into my walk, I was minding my own business in the internet marketing consulting world, it would be to be marketing, and a pastor challenged me to consider getting baptized and as a part of that, at the mega church, I was required to tell my story on video and let it go public.

And that basically gave me spiritual vertigo, but I wanted to take in my walk with christ. So I went through this process uh, and as I was going through it both as a, you know, follower of christ and as a internet marketing kind of tech guy.

I said, man, this is an effective way, maybe historically effective way to help people tell their story and to capture and share those stories using the tools of the age and after just like trying to tell everyone that idea and everyone's saying that's a great idea, that's not our mission, you should do it.

I very reluctantly started a ministry on 2001 of the 3 15 project, really just hoping that if I did what I could do as a layman, that maybe I could demonstrate what's possible with just intentionality and the others would come along and it was meant to be an open source cooperative project and certainly nothing I was imagining still leading after 10 years.

I thought that we would put ourselves out of business frankly and that's really the idea and so out of, out of that. As you said, spiritual vertigo, you realized, hey, if if I was a little bit fearful of sharing my own story, especially in a video context, I wonder if that is what the rest of christian dumb is experiencing.

Maybe I can help get people over those fears and barriers to help them share their stories and share their testimonies. Actually, when I shared my story, I said, okay, I'm immature, I don't have a story.

I'm a fraud. What will people think? And I knew that I had an issue with it. But what I told my pastor was, man, I'm sitting in the balcony with a plethora of influential business leaders that frankly have walks far deeper than mine with greater platforms in mind because I know them from the marketplace and like why in the world wouldn't we give them the opportunity to share their story? Why do you have to get dunked in a tank? Why isn't there the opportunity for everyone to share their story? I never thought million years that that those mature christians that I sat with would be as fearful or more fearful than I was.

But what I learned is that the vast majority of christians are in some way hesitant to resistant to sharing their story in such a open public way where you can't take it back? Yeah, Well, I'm sure there's some barney quote to support that at some point.

Huh? Um, to to give us some context to today's discussion. How do you define story within the context of ministry? I saw that question that pre notes and I think the way I think about it, you know, words can be dangerous because if his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts and we try and explain things or compartmentalize things in words.

I think that's one of the ways we get in trouble. I can just tell you what's in my heart. To me. I hear story, it has a component of being known and knowing the father, knowing what he's done for you or what is doing for you or what you've seen him do.

So you might take a definition of someone who's witnessed has witnessed something in their own lives or around them that's bearing witness giving testimony. You know, it's, uh, I think about that question all the time and I'm like, okay, so it's linear.

You know, conversion stories. Sure, you can check that box, but that's not what the woman in the Well did. That's not what the guy outside the gates did, right. They just simply testifying all I can tell you is this is what I know.

And so that is a story. Um, and I was focused originally on video stories because there's a B two B Internet marketer. I'm like my gosh, what kind of efficiency and effectiveness, what would happen if we weaponized these word of mouth stories? Uh, but as I get older and hopefully a little bit wiser and maybe a little more flexible and less zealous.

I'm opening up to the, you know, there's so many mediums and ways to, to capture and share stories that, you know, we're starting to look at more holistically ways to do that. Yeah, yeah. I love that.

The testimony. Hey, I just, I just want to share what I saw christ do in my life. The woman at the well, like I don't, I don't know anything about this dude, but he told me everything about my life and I just have to share it because it was miraculous, right? And I think when I when I say story when we're talking with ministry leaders often is um The tendency is to run two.

Okay, let me tell you about my ministry the strategies that we used to do the work or fight the cause that, are. we exist to fight. Or let me tell you about the data and statistics that are centered around this cause that we're working to resolve.

That's what I what I've run into is as an agency owner is the definition within the ministry space. The ministry sector around story is, let's just talk about our ministry and that's what we're so desperately at least I'm so desperately trying to get ministries to like change mindset towards like no, that's not what I'm talking about, when I say story, what I'm talking about is how has christ transformed life in an individual or a community, let's talk about that, and let's share that story, and because we know that those stories are happening on repeat at scales and rates that we could not even comprehend, um but those stories are powerful and so that's that's what we are.

When we define story. When I talk about story, I'm saying what is christ done in an individual's life to transform that individual, and that doesn't necessarily have to be now that person is a believer or a follower of christ, there can be transformation taking place, pre commitment to following jesus, right? Um but what is God doing in his life? Yeah, the story, I heard a story the other day um about a, this is coming out of, I'm not going to share the location just for security purposes, but a a muslim man had a dream and in that dream he saw christ on the cross and instead of the king of the jews sign that you know we all know was nailed to the cross.

Um the sign had a phone number in the dream and jesus picks up his head in this muslim man's dream and he says to the guy in the dream, I want you to call this number. And so the guy calls this number and it's a believer in that location, a follower of christ, I had no idea the phone call was coming, I mean it's miraculous that the muslim man even remembered the phone number from his dream to call it, but he did, he calls it up.

And the guy he who answers the phone starts sharing christ, the muslim man told him the dream and the guy goes oh let me tell you about jesus, and he starts telling him and the muslim man just kept saying God forbid it, God forbid God forbid it hangs up and isn't now a follower of christ.

But oh my goodness, you can see how God is pursuing that man and pulling at his heartstrings and just like how awesome is that, to hear a story of how God is pursuing this dude through a dream and he hasn't made a commitment to christ yet.

But that story is edifying to the church, so we can see is the body of christ. Oh man, God is moving in some miraculous ways, regardless of any of our efforts. And so those, that's the type of stuff that we we want, the ministry spaces start telling more often because those stories are powerful.

Well that that appreciation in valuing those stories that don't tie conveniently into a Kpi of a typical church. You know, it's attraction. All those are the stories that I think God uses in the body of christ is almost like a tapestry, a journey of all these pilgrims that at some point on their own walk that God's got a plan for them, I think, think of all the um conversion stories that come that can be concocted and almost microwave, you know, microwave cooked up for churches that are our ministries that are, you know, hyper focused on baptism, hyper focused and um salvation hyper focused on conversion stories.

Right? And yet that can't be helping. It's not it's not taking the church in the right direction, just simply because How many people do we know that they've had that two x four experience, they may be shared their story and they want nothing to do with christ.

And it's like to your point, I think it can't be overstated uh that we need to be on the ready to help capture and share any evidence that God is alive and working in the lives of his people. Mm. Yeah.

Um why do you think storytelling is so important? Mhm. Boy, everywhere you look these days, it's like whether it's secular faith based, you see all these psycho, psychological, sociological cultural nuclear family like workplace, um, to tell one story has a healing property to both the storyteller and those that hear it, it allows us to be known and connected.

I think it's just in eight, it's it's in us, I'm not an archaeologist or sociologist, but I've I've seen glimpses of studies and research that just, you know, say how important storytelling was around campfires and cave paintings.

It's like, it's it's who we are in us and I think that when we're not able to create the space and the margin and the permission to take our masks off and and know that someone cares enough about us to know who we are, that that what we have to say can help us grow and help others grow.

Um we lose probably the one of the greatest vehicles to connect and unify and empathize. Um so your question is loaded and I'm it's I can't wait for us to interview people that are actually at the forefront of that knowledge.

Like why is storytelling so important? Not just to the individuals in their walk with christ and their ability to make disciples, but for us is the body of christ to stay in the community. Yeah. Well I mean, yeah, there's the ramifications of storytelling and and the effects of storytelling on us as a species I created in the imago dei were created in the image of our creator who is a storyteller.

His primary use of communicating with us was scripture, which is a bunch of stories right? Not to oversimplification, but at the end of the day, he's chosen to primarily speak to us through his word. And so if were created by a creator in his image and he is a storyteller and that's a part of having that community that we know we so desperately need as as people.

It just makes a ton of sense that storytelling is powerful. It's it's effective. It's at a wide variety of things. Like there's a uh infinite number of applications for it. And and so yeah, I think it obviously is a loaded question but there's just significant um effects of storytelling on us as humans, as people.

Um when you, when, when you just unpack it like that, I wanted to go back and say, what a dumb question, like why is storytelling important? It's almost like because you helped me realize even in this moment, it's like my gosh, it was obviously important to moses because he wrote all the stories down.

It's important to David because he wrote like 100 or so psalms, which is just another way, I mean, he's literally in those songs testifying to what God has done through poetry and song in verse and jesus obviously as you said, believe stories was important paul, without paul telling stories and sending these letters out, we're not sitting here having this conversation most likely.

Right? So it's like sometimes I think a question like yours is can be so dismissed, why is storytelling important? It was like that could be the most disruptive change provoking question if we really stop in looked at it in the context of the word and the spirit.

Yeah, yeah. And and that's a good segue to my the next question. What are what are, what do we think the areas or what do you see of the areas in the ministry sector? Both the church and the para church space.

Right. What do you see is lacking in that sector when it comes to storytelling? I think having observed and worked with churches for 10 years and and been the real again reluctant director of a nonprofit for 10 years.

I think there's a starkly anemic willingness to co relate the power of story to help drive growth and transformation in an organization of people group. We have so many great programs and ideas and strategies to help grow our churches grow our ministries get more outcomes.

But when I cynically and and naively look at revelation 1211 where we're going to overcome the enemy with what Jesus did on the cross and the words of our testimony. I'm like, you think we'd be giving more precedence and priority to asking this question that no one really seems to be asking, it's like ought we not to be able to drive growth and transformation if God is in this and leading us through the words of the testimonies of our people.

And I just think that that to me it starts with that is there a willingness to what I call? Um you know, take a step back back up if you really truly want to begin to understand and see ways that you can drive growth forward by leveraging the power, personal stories and technology.

And we've talked about this off line. I mean at great length we've had many conversations, you and I just riffing on this and talking about this and, and idea eating. But um, this idea of story poverty across the church landscape.

Can you, can you introduce this idea and share why you think the church is in a state of story poverty? Yes. Yeah, man, I've enjoyed these explorations and I think the idea requires, like, I love that movie, big with tom Hanks, you know, where he he kind of gets in the body of an where he goes back to nine years old and he sees the world through the eyes of a nine year old.

And when I stepped back and I look at that, I'm like, yes, 1% of one of 1% of people in the church are either able and willing and ready to tell their story and or having the ability to capture that story.

So it can be shared by any other met by any other industry, by any other business, by any other, you know, world social issue, that would be like, abject severe, earth shattering poverty. So, you know, you and I even asked some some business leaders almost like, just almost testing some theory, we said, what percentage of people in a people group, like a Villager community, if they didn't have regular access to clean drinking water, would you start to think that that community might be in a state of, you know, moderate to severe poverty? And the answer is that we heard back, we're like, you know, if 20% of the people didn't have access, and I'm like, wow, because I know just looking around and doing thousands of hours of studying and research, I can't find the church that has maybe, You know, we're 80% of the people in the church congregation don't have access to the ability and the opportunity to tell their story and have it shared using technology so it can be leveraged.

And uh so you start to ask, I mean, I wrote about this about four years ago because you know, there's there's kind of two ways, there's many ways for someone with a calling on their heart to try and help change improvement.

You no one is to try and pick a fight and plow concrete, which has never worked for me. And the other is just kind of abide and love like love people and change and that's a lot more pure. But there is that tension between if you're trying to end poverty and a village where people are losing their lives because they don't have access to water or food, like are you going to wait and love and hope that they change, or are you going to try and proactively advance forward and push change? Right? Um and that's attention, it's attention that uh challenges my heart, it challenges my pride, you know, a lot of ways, because you know, you're just like my heart breaks when I see so many people in the church that are unable or unwilling to tell their story, but it also breaks knowing that there are people that are willing and able to tell their story, but their church, for whatever reason, is unable or unwilling to provide the opportunity for them to tell their story um you know, said so that's a long winded answer, uh oh yeah, if, if the primary, if we break down the primary calls of jesus ministry to love God love others and make disciples like that last one, make disciples such a crucial and important piece to that scripture tells us in all kinds of locations that it is the word of our testimony, right? Sharing our story, what has god done in my life is such a crucial and integral piece to making disciples, one of the conversations you and I had recently shared this analogy that I thought was just so powerful and if I bought it, forgive me.

But um I think you said something like if I told you There was this organization that had 50,000 locations across the United States and that organization did, I don't remember what you said, either 14 billion or 114 year in revenue And the primary role of that organization, that 50,000 location organization.

Their primary role in purpose was to help people read, but They only were able to help one out of every 10 people that went through their programs read. What would you say about that organization? Clearly That organization should, it shouldn't exist like their dysfunctional and not using and stewarding those 14 114 billion dollars in funds effectively.

I'm reading this book called from Megachurch to multiplication right now and I just I'm just started. But one of the one of the quotes are statistics in this book is the average cost per baptism in the typical american church Is $1.

5 million. And and so if I back to that analogy, if I told you there was this organization that was existed to help people read and they only helped one out of every 10 people read. You'd say that was a gigantic failure of an organization and that is the case with storytelling across the church landscape.

Back to that barn, a quote we kind of hinted at earlier, I think it says something like nine out of 10 Christians will never share their story in their life of their walk with christ and I don't know if I'm quoting that, that barney quote, exactly right, but it's something like that, it's an and that if discipleship is a primary call of christ on our lives and storytelling is an integral and crucial piece to making disciples, like if if the word of our testimony is going to be the thing that pushes back darkness and and and and is the thing that or is a crucial piece of the puzzle to making disciples and and making disciple making movements um whether it's here in the United States or globally like you and I have talked about this before, I have a very global international bent towards where I'm feeling the Lord Pole and your your heart is more towards the Western Church.

But um like there's there's we've missed the importance of our story and our testimony across the church landscape and man. What if we could what if we could start making a shift in that, in that mindset, Making a dent in how comfortable believers are and sharing what God has done, what how comfortable people aren't sharing what God has done in their life in in those transformation stories, those testimonies.

I think that the the ramifications of that could be really significant and exciting. Yeah, I mean, to be willing to take a serious look at the issue of story poverty, right? Would have to start with a stark and again, very disruptive question about the status quo, simply asking, is my church in a state of mild, moderate or severe story poverty.

Right? And even forget what the answer actually is, because you can find that out, right? We're coming up with ways to statistically kind of survey the soil. The question is, does anyone care to ask the question? Yeah.

Right. And that takes courage. And what I found is I've said, God give me empathy and heart for these pastors, because the last thing they need is someone picking at them, tell them another thing they have to do.

And I'm like, where do I go with this message? And it's like, it's the businessmen and women, it's the philanthropist. It's the people that give faithfully into the offering plate or the tie. But they kind of check their brain at the door when it comes to stewardship.

And you you hit on a perfect example. I've tried every single like me and I could think of to to get folks to have this conversation. But it's like if you knew for a fact that your church was spending $100,000 on average two help someone get baptized, quote unquote, acquire a customer and you hate to use that language.

But I'm just I'm sick of kingdom business leaders that I open to start a conversation or slow down and have a conversation. Like if the church is running like a business enterprise, let's help it improve.

If we can if it's not running a business enterprise and let's just go straight biblical. But you know, part of the reason for story poverty as you well know name the church that has unlimited resources and time and human capital to go around capturing more stories, right? So even from a stewardship standpoint, if I say to a businessman, if you love your church and you're a businessman and you understand the basic principles of cost of customer acquisition, right? Can I ask you a simple question? Why do you think it is that your church might be spending $11,000 to acquire a customer getting bapt,ized, But they're not willing to spend an average of $100 to help get that story of life change back out to the outside the walls of the church, which we would simply call a word of mouth customer testimonial.

So even if your church is like completely attraction. All right, it still makes no sense that you wouldn't be taking a percentage of your resources two share and celebrate the stories of life change Two at the very least is sacrilegious and business, right? It sounds to lower your cost of customer acquisition, right? Because if we don't start thinking like this and something many are.

And I'm praying that those that are hearing this message of like, man, I got something I want to say about this too. Like we want to hear from you. But it's like if we don't start thinking about, it's like, what, what do you think is going to change this? The cycle of raising a bunch of more capital to build more wings, more buildings? And then we see a bunch of buildings getting shut down.

And it's like, where do you stop the madness? And it's It's not rocket science. But you know, I had a 24 year old young man, I took him to coffee and he was like, this is not a resource issue. It's a priority issue.

He was wise beyond his years and I'm like, I wish these pastors and these business leaders that love these pastors would get together for five minutes and have a intentional conversation about how they can use storytelling to advance their outcomes and you know that the health of their church and I know I've trusted God's gonna make those conversations come to light through through this podcast and through the folks that you and I know and I'm so excited to just almost sit back and share the table and just hear what God has to say about our lessons.

Yeah, well, I mean we've talked about this a little bit already, but the applications for storytelling are run the gamut of the ministry space, for his glory, how he is. He was glorified when we share of what he's doing, right, when when we share of, oh my goodness, this is what I saw God do in this person's life.

He is glorified by that for the edification of the church. When I hear a story that muslim man and the dream that he had earlier in this podcast, like those kind of stories for me, they almost every single time bring me to tears.

Oh my goodness, it is so encouraging and edifying for me as a part of the body of christ to hear how God is moving, how he is pursuing unbelievers, how he's pursuing believers, how he's working in the lives of people to to transform life.

And then for like you talked about that um the the outreach applications when we when we share the stories of how God's moving, I mean look at the current landscape of the church and everything going on in our culture right now, so much division, so much separation politically, so much division within the church.

That's been so sad to see um like regardless of where you stand on any of those things or any of those topics, or any of those political ideologies, you can't argue with my story if I share with you what God has done in my life, there's nothing that you can do to argue against that, that's what he's done in my life I'm getting.

And so it it transcends all these this crazy separation and division when we share and testify of what God is doing. So, both for his, for his glory, for the edification of the church, for outreach purposes, storytelling, it runs the gamut of application for all of these things within within the Church and ministry sector context, and I just think it's a firm believer in the power of story and the need to be obedient to do what he's asked us to do, go testify of what I've done, um, especially that the man at the well right, he, like I want to follow, you know, don't follow me, go tell All that I've done for you and the next time Jesus comes into that community, there's 4000 people that are followers of Christ because that guy just said, I don't know, he just healed me, like I can't tell you anything else, but this man, jesus healed me And you have 4000 believers the next time Christ comes through that town or maybe it was Paul, I can't remember.

but you see that like it is such an important piece to the gospel message, is sharing and testifying of what God's done and in the lives of people that he's pursuing. I don't think, I don't think it's a pastor on the face of the planet that isn't also moved by the type of story you just mentioned.

I mean most pastors, I've got to meet a pastor that doesn't appreciate and understand the power and the importance of story. And I think that most of them are just like almost hopeless, right? It's like, how am I going to add one more thing to our church? And I think you can continue to explore this idea ending story poverty.

I think the rally cry is this isn't something you need to take on an add to your trick. You simply need to mobilize and unleash your laypeople. Like, like a prayer ministry. Like let the people help each other, tell their stories.

And, you know, there's there's such a, there's such a let the people tell their stories, but there's such pressure on these churches and these nonprofits to crank out these amazing stories, that there's no place to rise up a group of lay storytellers.

Yeah, I think that's and that kind of segues into my next question. I think that's one of the barriers is this perception that especially for those mega churches that are used to the high production value worship, high production value story testimonial stories that they do once a year on easter.

Like, we can't do this on a regular basis because it costs too much to put together a film like that. Like, videographers are expensive, whether we hire in house or outsourced it to a contractor, it's just expensive to do something like that.

But there's there's so many other ways to tell stories in audio and user generated content. I mean, we have the power of these mobile devices is insane. Now let's equip and train and raise up our people to use that type of technology to get these stories out.

It doesn't have to be the high polished, high production value story and that's coming from an agency owner who is like, that's what I do. Like we do high production value video storytelling, like everything that we do, whether it's brand development or websites or graphic design campaigns all is so that we can have a holding place for the stories, like that's our core offering and the best thing that we do.

And I'm telling you as an agency owner who does high production value stories. We've got to, we've got to find a different model for communicating these stories because it's not working. These $30,000 silver bullet films aren't working.

And there has to be a better way to share these stories and share these testimonies on a more regular basis, on a more consistent basis. And like free these, especially these large organizations, the larger churches, free them up to be okay sharing content and stories that isn't super polished and high production value stuff.

Um, I mean there's, we're already starting to see trends that people don't trust that stuff anyways. Those really polished commercials from the Nikes of the world. People are not trusting that content anyways.

So let's go create content that they are trusting. So I'm getting off topic a little bit, but I think that is maybe one of the barriers. What other barriers do you see? Um, for ministries telling stories, churches telling stories of how God is at work In the lives of people all over the world? Are there some things as you've pursued this idea over the last 10 plus years that you see re occurring and coming up on a consistent basis? Yeah.

It's always the urgent, right? It's the urgent video that needs to get produced by a certain date with certain budget, with limited resources for some editorial or strategic purpose and there's no margin in there to create what I would describe as a almost like an agricultural process to evergreen story harvesting.

Like you, you ought to have a church that has a regular evergreen process to cultivate stories, right? So that when you look at, you cultivate the stories so that you and you rise up people that can help each other tell those stories, right? I think there's this, there's this shockingly ignorant or arrogant or naive lie that we believe as maybe church attenders, maybe as pastors.

Hey, if if a dude has a story in their heart and they're willing to share it and they have an iphone in their pocket, I'm sure if they wanted to they would do it. But that's not that's inherently not true, right? Like they think of the think of the money time, human capital, resource investment, this church is spent in, say the 19 fifties, sixties and seventies, let's say that the 20th century in helping disciples make disciples that can and will tell the difference jesus has made in their life, two other people in their neighborhoods, in their workplace, in their communities, right? Like there's a big emphasis on that, but that doesn't seem to be translating into the digital realms where you have infinitely greater reach, infinitely greater effectiveness, infinitely greater efficiency, right? So it's like, when I look at, I think part of the problem is, and we've talked about at length when a church is doing all it can with what it's got, and they're able to create that one beautiful video that everybody celebrates and collapse too.

Like at some point, you gotta just be real like, man, these guys got to check that box and move on because they got 100 other things they got to do and the danger. I think one of the biggest contributor story, poverty, most people in those pews that are watching that video, Well almost rest on their laurels and say, man, that's incredibly powerful.

And no one will look around the congregation to say, yeah, but there's 99.9% of the people in the life of this church that aren't going to tell their story, right? So I think it takes, um, you know what, barnacles, revolutionaries, this is not going to change through an incumbent approach.

It is simply not, there's too much inertia, but I think in the same way, you know, para church ministries, kitchen ministries, food bank ministries. If if some people can get together and basically what I call standing up a story ministry, You can stand up a kitchen ministry, you can stand up a story ministry and if you can train and equip 1525 volunteers to work in your kitchen and serve amazing food to hundreds of people for different ministry purposes and reasons.

You can certainly set up a couple of cameras and help people tell the difference, uses man in their life and capture it for them. And in addition to serving spaghetti, maybe we could serve up some stories of life change mm one And as if if any of the listeners of this podcast have heard other episodes that we've done.

We do a lot of, we've had a lot of guests on the show that have talked about disciple making movements and disciple making principles and all these. There's a long list of multiplication, tive, reproducing disciple making models that exist.

And we've had a lot of those leaders on the show and that mentality that training and equipping mentality of those strategies, I think so applies to this space. Like there are some barriers. People are fearful of sharing their story, they're fearful of being vulnerable, especially in a video context.

Um there are resource barriers, there's technological barriers and so um a part of this idea is is that raising up training, equipping people at lay people and otherwise to share their own stories and and be equipped to go teach others to do the same and and you know, I don't know if this is going to look like coming alongside those organizations that are already doing it coming along, so like it's going to be a coming alongside a partnership idea that is going to have any kind of dense in what we've talked about, ending this idea of story poverty.

And so um I guess that kind of segues well into this last question. If our, if our listeners want to learn more about this idea, if they want to learn more about how we can all start working together, partnering together, having discussions around idea, waiting on this idea of ending story poverty.

What can they do? Yeah man, thanks for having me on and thanks for being so generous with your platform. And you know, I'd ask him to pray and I think, you know, it's coming on me right now. I think I think I'd invite every listener to just ask and regardless if I work at a church, if I work at a nonprofit, if I support a church, if I support a nonprofit, if I'm a consultant or a culture an agency, I just ask each one of us to turn to the Lord God and say God almost I'll just do this real time for me, God.

God, I acknowledge and confess that there are testimonies that are being held captive. There are testimonies that could be unleashed for your glory. Would you give me the courage to enter into conversations both with you father in spirit and communion, but also in community, in the pursuit of your will for your glory.

And I think it starts with a posture of at least for me almost that acknowledgement, that confession almost like weeping for us as the body of christ. It's like we repent and that's what I feel like I've got.

I'm sorry that we've put so much time and energy into elevating our own brands, our own little kingdoms, our own congregations, our own churches. Mm Through your grace. We're still here. Like it's not too late to repent Father.

What would you have us? No. About the stories, Right? What what can I do? And so there's one thing that I think that anybody and everybody can do and we're trying to make it so simple. We've got this domain end story poverty dot com and we got a little form on there.

It says if you want to learn more about how you can help end story poverty fill out this little form, man. I think if people would intentionally pray a prayer like that, simply be intentional to fill out a form like that.

You have no idea the ripple effect that that might cause that doesn't matter if you're a congregant, you're on the finance committee, you're a pastor. You don't feel like you have a voice or influence you do, right? That's how movements start.

That's how change happens. But I think I'm looking for inviting people to come together and say that we we we can do more to help people know who you are by simply helping people that have been changed by you tell the difference that you've made in their lives and what could be more precious than that.

And I think it's you know, I'm even thinking of like one of the prophets in the books, it's like, let us turn our faces towards God right? Like, I almost feel like God's saying like you guys have turned your faces away from me and this is like something that's so simple, so simple.

I mean, I'm even thinking right now Zach in this moment, you know, what would it look like for a church? And I know there's churches out that are doing this, I know there are that this simply had the equivalent of a clipboard, a binder, a video camera sitting up in a sunday school classroom is just like if you'd be willing to share and testify, the difference, jesus made in your life, before you go on with your busy day, before you go on with your work week, in the same way, in the same reverence, you might approach communion or adoration or your prayer closet, we want to just invite you to testify the difference guys made in your life, but you know what happens and I it sounds so cynical, right, but the approach I see and I'm an exact, I got to know that there's churches that are doing exactly what we just said right there, I just don't know who they are yet.

But what typically happens is like, let's throw some stuff up in planning center and come up with a campaign or some banners that say share your story, right? But I think what I've learned coming out of my own life experience as a follower of christ when most Western american christians see a directive to share their story.

For so many of us, it just breeds guilt and shame. I think very few pastors that I know are saying man, you're broken, I'm broken. We all struggle with fear, pride, apathy, dualism, selfishness. But if we have any chance, any chance at all laying that stuff down, it has to start with being able to be courageous and being willing to not even tell and share the different cheeses made in your life, but to let him reveal it to you right in that quiet place in your heart and that's way off topic.

But but I think this is a spiritual warfare issue. I think it's the spiritual warfare is the thing that's causing the chaos that keeps story poverty from happening. So maybe my prayer would be like, man, we just appreciate people signing that form and just praying with us and seeking the Lord, that might be a great place to start.

Yeah, yeah, if you are interested in learning more about this idea, in coming alongside us as we explore this and pray about this and find churches and organizations and partners that want to explore ending story poverty, you can go to end story poverty dot com and just sign up to learn more.

Just a email form fill out and we'll be reaching out with, you know what that looks like next, but um this has been awesome, Todd, I really appreciate you being on the show. Can I pray for you real quick? Always brother, always father, I just lift up Todd, I thank you for his passion and his desire to help the church share what you're doing in the lives of believers, in the lives of unbelievers, how you're pursuing people, how you're pursuing hearts and minds, and um I just uh we just lift up this idea that him and I have talked about it at length and we just laid at your feet and asked you to be a part of this, we know that story is so important to you, it's such a um it's deeply ingrained in your heart and and you've been granted in us and um I pray that we would be obedient to do what you've called us to do, to share our stories, to make that an important piece of our our lives as we pursue you and loving you and loving others and making disciples father, we love you so much, thank you for Todd and his willingness to come on the show and talk about this stuff um and pray that you bless his ministry and pray that you would just go before us as we pursue this idea, jesus, thank you for who you are for your invitation and to being a part of what you're doing, we love you in, jesus name Amen, thank you God, thanks Todd appreciate you being on the show and uh we'll be in touch, thank you for listening to this episode of the ministry grow show.

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