Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A New Old Venue for Senior Ministers

A New / Old Venue for Senior Ministers
Paschal Baute

“Truth went around the world but people ran away, finding truth too discomforting, Truth was lonely.
One day, Truth saw a beautiful lady down the road, well dressed, scrounged by admirers, entranced with her words.
Truth went up to her. “What is your Name?” He inquired.
My name is Story, she replied.

From then on, for most of the time, Truth went dressed in story, until people began to think that stories were only myths. –Jewish fable

A new ministry that I have discovered late in life, pushing 80, is storytelling. Now I have been telling stories, all my life, says my wife. I learned to create stories that helped clients change as a psychotherapist. But now, as a member of our local Spellbinders chapter, I get to go into public schools regularly and tell stories to wondrous, eagerly listening children.

Our local chapter here in Lexington is sponsored by our Public Library which offers training free to interested volunteers. Spellbinders is a national organization (see website) aiming to connect seniors with children via storytelling. This is the ministry that gives me the most joy and delight.

This past year my theme has been Native American stories that I accompany with collected artifacts. I was telling at Cassidy Elementary this past fall to Fourth graders because this subject is in their curriculum. I arranged for my granddaughter to be present as she is in kindergarten there, as well as my grandson who is in the second grade. Chloe, front row, gets up in the middle of one of my stories, approaches my left arm, taps me gently, and said, “Poppy, can I stand beside you?”

I could have died and gone to heaven right then and there. For anyone looking for a new ministry or new hobby, allow me to suggest this one. You are not un-experienced. Good preachers are good storytellers. You already know that a preacher who can/t tell stories will not be listened to for long. So, you already have much experience, talent and probably a repertoire of favorite stories, so this avenue should be a natural to many ministers.

Do you not imagine that shamans of old were good storytellers? I got re-interested in storytelling in the 1990s and attended several National Storytelling Conferences, held each October in Jonesboro, Tennessee. They bring the best storytellers in the world there and there are some five tents each holding a thousand people. If you can find your way there on the first weekend in October you will enjoy. But there are storytelling associations in many metro areas, maybe one nearby.

There is an explosion of new interest and use of storytelling today, even for organizational change. With the likely natural talent and experience you have a minister of the gospel, you will discover a new and exciting outlet for your priestly yearnings to connect with and move others int new frames.

I am developing this ministry for other groups, church groups and adults, and have begun some public performance. It gives me a way to integrate much experience to reach people concerning deep and basic truths, now newly clothed in STORY.

But nothing beats storytelling to my public school audiences.

Call Greg Davis, Lexington Public Library, 859 - and scan down to blogs
Lexington Spellbinders
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