Give me a story

In Dec 2001, during a meeting, I wrote a poem. It gets requested a lot and I am now seeing it pop up on other blogs – and without a link. So here is a retelling of the original poem and a new home for it. Its called “Give Me A Story”. And in case you were wondering . . yes, it was written in the middle of a mission conference and but it was not written out of frustration regarding the people around me. The tension had more to do with the human desire to sum up God’s ways and our inadequacies in doing so.

Give Me A Story

you want a statement to sum up the mission of God
go ahead
find your statement
make one up to help you
feel secure inside your safety cage of words
belted in by cords of cliches
locked up by logos lifted from sunday school memories

but give me a story
give my friends a story
so that they are not sentenced to meaningless lives

dont give me a story that I can easily believe in
give me a script that I struggle to understand
that stretches my faith,
that demands life insurance
give me a story that will rip me from my career
and pummel me into a quest beyond my capabilities
i need something worth dying for
i have most of my life left to give
but I need a story worthy of my investment

give me a story that I can touch
and smell
a story with real people
a story with a face.
a story with my face
my role
my place
my script
because I am
preselected to be a player
in this story that rolls its plot out in front of me
likearunawaycarpetunravellingfasterthanicanrun
in more directions than I can predict
in more colors than I can comprehend
a story that woos out my potential
and calls me
out of myself
to be who I really am

give me A story
give me THE story
give me MY story

tell me that God is bigger than you
BIGGER than your statements of ink
BIGGER than your powerpoint animations
than your projections of numbers
that make you impressed
but that make God stoop

give me a story that
makes me gloriously
a l i v e
to the purpose of God
makes me run without breath to keep up with His spirit
and at the same time
inviting me to
dance slowly
erotically
with
God
in an
end
les
s

m
o
m
e
n

t

of warm passion
nesting me in peace
and safety

tell me the story in new words
so that I dont trip over lame phrases of impotence
so that my mind does not vanillarize
over trivial expressions
used mindlessly by millions
who use words to steal mystery
from a transcendent God
who speaks freshly
with new mercies every morning
!surprises!
that awaken me from sleep mode
that spark in me new thoughts
dreams of impossible feats
daring adventures
miracles of the Almighty
performed by the hands
and prayers
of backstreet
backstage
people
in goodwill rags

you want a statement?

go ahead
i dare ya
double-dare ya
to box up The Omnipotent
to catch the Spirit of God
to nail the Son
on a cross-word puzzle

go ahead and try
but I wont hold my breath
and you wont hold the mission of God on a bumper sticker

Andrew Jones
Colorado Springs
December 2001

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

14 Comments

  • Powerful.
    Important!
    Do it again some time.
    Will be in the London area June 6-11…any chance of some conversation? What would you need to know about me to make that possible?
    …glad to be on t he journey with you,
    Wes
    Hi Wes, this is Andrew. I have a feeling you are the same Wes Roberts who has co-written “Reclaiming God’s Original Intent For The Church” which some of the Emergent people were reading last week in San Diego. If this is true, my thanks to you for not pushing your book in my comments section [what great retraint].
    What do I need to know about you before we have coffee in London, and you hand me a copy of your book? Absolutely nothing, my dear Wes.
    Absolutely nothing.

  • Great thoughts, flow, words!
    A hefty criticism of church marketing. I heartily agree with the “more” that a church or person has to offer than a nifty little statement, but I wonder if it has to be an “instead”? Statemtents aren’t enough, but do they always replace the power of a life lived? Expecting statements to power a life and change might be as wrong as expecting PowerPoint to calculate formulas. That’s the part Excel does. PowerPoint can present the results, but if you goof in Excel then PowerPoint can’t help much but to put up a superficial show of polished results. Without PowerPoint, the results might be right but won’t have such a clear focus and communication value. The power lies – I think – in feeding PowerPoint (the mission statement) with Excel processing power (the life story).
    Greeting from Heidelberg,
    Marlin

  • Andrew,
    I’ve followed your journey for the last few years and I can still remember reading that poem for the first time. I cried. God is so amazing … Your journey inspires, thanks.
    BTW, I saw that my blog is still listed under moshie in your original skinny list. I’m now at a new address http://www.soulgardeners.com
    Peace from South Africa,
    Thomas Smith.

  • Impressive piece of prose, Andrew
    wonder where God is taking you here in London?
    wonder what will be the story you write here in the streets of old London town,
    giving people a glimse of our Almighty God…
    Looking forward to see…
    PTD

  • “It gets requested a lot and I am now seeing it pop up on other blogs – and without a link.”
    Except for Greg @ the suppliants who DID dutifully link it…hmmm…so am I a blogger or a flogger…?
    Andrew, what’s the protocol about snipping from other bloggers? By the way, Dave-the-Rave has an interesting post about this issue and what it means with a Creative Commons license.
    In the future if we want to use something of yours should we ask your permission first? Honestly the reason I didn’t ask your permission is that the last time I emailed you it took an entire year (I’m not joking!) for you to reply.
    So…what’s the protocol on this?

  • Hi Greg
    Sorry about that email – i owe you coffee.
    Thanks sooooo much for honoring me by posting the poem. I just love it when others add milage to what i write and give new life to old writings. Some of my best stuff gets lost and i am indebted to others who took the time to put it in safe places.
    REgarding this piece, when Dave [or was it duncan???] asked about the actual link (you linked to my site but not to the occasion – as in poem-in-context) then i had trouble finding it. i actually went to your blog, copied and pasted into an email and sent it off to him. (Thanks)
    Since then, I tracked it down, buried deep in my previous blog,and have now given it a permanent and more visible link.
    My responsibility should be to create a permanent and accessible link, and then to maintain that address so that it never slides off your page. That is my obligation.
    My policy, which may differ from Steve T’s, is that the stuff on my blog is published, and it is out in the open – I write knowing that i have little control over the media once it has gone out – and others are welcome to re-publish as long as they give an appropriate link back, which then enables me to explain the context in which it was written.
    In this circumstance, knowing the poem was written in a room full of missiologists kicking around statments and logos, gives it some context and more meaning.
    So, you will never have to ask permission to use anything on this site, unless you plan to make a million dollars off it, in which case, you will have to buy me the coffee.
    Also, i changed the name to “Give my a story” after the mention on your blog (it was “Give me my story” but that never sounded right) – so thanks again.

  • “REgarding this piece, when Dave asked about the actual link (you linked to my site but not to the occasion – as in poem-in-context) then i had trouble finding it. i actually went to your blog, copied and pasted into an email and sent it off to him. (Thanks)”
    Ok, my bad…! Now I’ve fixed the link. Thanks for being so gracious.
    Hey, email me your address & I’ll send you some delicious Nicaraguan coffee. (…ok people, I might be a suck-up but at least I’m not a TATTLETALE like Dave!!!) 🙂

  • Don’t blame dave… we’ll have to give the guy a break this time. Unless he emailed too, it was me that brought up the issue!
    Actually, I was just asking Andrew’s permission to shake up my next church vision meeting by reading this poem out just before any discussion on a mission statement! Thanks for that…
    : )

  • Hi all, Good that TSK has decided that we can link anything off his site unless we make a million dollars, in which case we supply coffee – I`ll keep a good supply of coffee and some postage stamps just in case 😉
    Seriously though, Perhaps someone is feeling a little guilty for posting two sucessive entries of someone else’s work ( one off my blog) without initial attribution.
    Also, I haven’t emailed Goyo – or anyone else – about Andrews poem (which, as a tallish skinny kiwi poet myself Andrew, I thought was GR8. Tattletaleing? I don’t think so.

  • “Seriously though, Perhaps someone is feeling a little guilty for posting two sucessive entries of someone else’s work (one off my blog) without initial attribution.”
    Guilty? No. Devious? Absolutely! I think I’m going to change the name of my blog to “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” even though I do think this pirate’s learned a lesson…
    And now I need to send coffee to NZ, too. Aaaaargh!

  • On Mission Statements

    Our church website doesn’t have a mission statement or doctrinal statement on it. No one has really given us a hard time about that, but it is somewhat unusual. I resonated with Andrew Jones’ words:You want a statement to sum…

  • Just wanted to say that this poem hit the spot in my heart and said so many of the things that i wanted to say so much better – thanks. So i’ve blogged it and linked it! Blessings,
    John

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