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What’s Your Congregation’s Story?

Every individual has his or her own personal story. You have undoubtedly heard many personal stories from your co-workers, friends, family members and others. Personal stories are self-fulfilling. People who repeatedly tell stories of personal weakness, failure and hopelessness are setting themselves up to create a future life of weakness, failure and hopelessness. You may have worried about others as you listened to a string of their sad personal stories.

Your Congregational Narrative

Congregations are the same way. If your members repeatedly tell each other stories about a church history of poor leadership, conflict, financial difficulties, or a thousand other negative narratives, they are likely to believe it’s all over and start living out the inevitably hopeless future.

If, on the other hand, your congregational narrative is one of spiritual strength, challenges overcome, and certain hope for an exciting, even surprisingly positive future, then you have sown the seeds for growth and transformation. Every congregation has had experience with hard times and failure as well as with good times and success. While stories of hard times and failure are true and must be fully acknowledged, they are most useful as an opportunity to lift up how your congregation overcame failure and created success. 

The power of conversations on the parking lot after meetings, around the coffee pot during fellowship hour, at home with children, and a thousand other places, is immense. The stories that members of your church tell one another about the congregation guide the future of your church. 

What to Do

Invite the people in your congregation to share stories about times when they experienced your congregation at its best. Who was doing what? How was the congregation fulfilling its mission and ministry during those times?

At meetings or small group activities, take time to share stories about recent positive events. How do the meeting participants see God at work in those events? Ask your people to discuss the most important qualities of their congregation. How could those qualities be enhanced? What are the greatest spiritual gifts God has given the congregation? How can members use them even more fully? Entertain conversation about future possibilities. Three years from now, what will your congregation have achieved that will most please the Lord? 

St. Paul recalled stories of people at their best. In his letter to the Thessalonians, he says:


   “... Constantly remembering before our God and

    Father your work of faith and labor of love and

    steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    ... He has chosen you ... you became imitators

    of us and of the Lord ... received the word with

    joy inspired by the Holy Spirit ... you became

    an example to all the believers ... the word of

    the Lord sounded forth from you ... .”

    (I Thessalonians 1:3-8)


The Good News is the story of God’s presence and work in the lives of his people. Your congregation’s narrative is part of the Good News story. Engage your congregation in a positive dialogue that fosters openness to the work of the Spirit and moves the congregation toward the exciting future that God intends for you and your people.  

If you would like to learn more about how to build a positive congregational narrative, contact us:

Glen Rediehs, M.Div., Ph.D.

1001 East W. T. Harris Blvd.

Suite P-317

Charlotte, NC  28213



Larry Webb, Th.M., Rel.D.

14013 Zephermoor Lane

Winter Garden, FL  34787


2009 Glen Rediehs

Glen Rediehs, M.Div., Ph.D. founded his own company in 1980. He has provided training and consulting to businesses, governmental agencies and churches. He has been a parish pastor, provided psychotherapy and taught in college and university Psychology departments for over twenty years. Dr. Rediehs specializes in appreciative and strength-based approaches to organizational change.

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