This Saturday morning I am teaching on storytelling the gospel for a group organized by Scripture Union in Perth, West Australia. Its part of a social media training tour that was suggested to me at Lausanne World Congress last year in Cape Town. Peter Barney, also at Lausanne, asked that I do something in Perth. So here I am. Along with Geoff Westlake who has been a friend for 2 decades. And I know that both Peter and Barney will have a lot to say.
Saturday is actually my Dad's birthday. April 16th. He would have been 78. He passed away in 2004 in Queensland, Australia. His funeral came a day after my brother's funeral so it was weird timing and quite an emotional rollercoaster ride.
My blog was a great outlet for me during that time. I got to express the deep and conflicting emotions that I felt during his funeral in the form of a poem called Just One Nod. It's a piece of creative writing that I expressed in Aussie-speak, appropriate for the Australian context, something that points to the inability of some men to find appropriate outlets for emotion without resorting to violence, more than it points to a son grieving the loss of his father.
My father's death was, for me, a passage-way into a new level of adulthood, beyond the fear of losing one's father, a sad but also a strangely liberating occasion that I marked with an ear piercing. In fact, my friend Doug also lost his dad around the same time and we both had our ears pierced together. Mark Scandrette joined us, making three volunteers for a Pictish Piercing Party in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. It wasn't the wild primal tribal piercing ceremony that we anticipated but it was meaningful nonetheless. The story I told about that still ranks number one for that search request. Not as bloody as it sounds. And actually that post is a terrible example of blogging – during the training I will show you 7 things I should have done to that blog post.
So . . . blogging the whole journey of losing my father was, for me, a therapeutic experience.
But behind the scenes, there were "secrets and lies" in our family and it wasn't until my fathers death that we, or at least I, felt some freedom to talk about it. And blogging once again became a relief valve for those secrets.
It happened accidently. When the Ted Haggard infidelity event hit the media, I posted a video that I found online, and, strangely enough, my blog hit Google search number one for "Ted Haggard video". Thousands and thousands of people were viewing my blog and I felt I should not only point them in the right direction, but also offer some of my own thoughts. Which I did.
I felt I could relate somewhat to the Haggard kids and I wanted to blog something that might be helpful to them, and to all other kids with prodigal parents who did something dumb. I posted something quite personal called Carrying Your Dad's Dumbbell. That post ends with some words from Jesus on taking our load, and a prayer that he might do just that.
When I think of storytelling the gospel on blogs, it's moments like that when I feel the good news flows and people respond. Certainly much more than a widget saying "IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE JESUS THEN PUSH THIS BUTTON!"
So, although I still have a lot to figure out, one thing I have learned about storytelling the good news of Jesus through blogs is this: The hardest, toughest moments of your life, those times when you don't feel like blogging or when it really hurts to tell your story to your audience, are often the most meaningful. It's not easy to be vulnerable enough to share how God is real in the midst of tragedy or disappointment but it is precisely those moments when our voice is strongest, and when we find God nearer to us than ever before. When we find ways to capture those opportunities and bravely share our story, and how God's story inteweaves with ours,people are attracted to the One who draws near to us in our weakness, in our pathetic humanity, and shows Himself real.
In those times, we become storytellers.We become bloggers. We become the publishers of 'glad tidings of great joy'. And the story of the greatest news in the world finds a ready audience.
How to tell that story, how to be heard, how to be found on the internet, how to supplement that story with other media, how to integrate with other social media so that we can easily stream our lives . . . these questions will be the subject of our talk in Perth. Thanks to those of you who are coming along. Please keep me connected with your story by leaving me a link to your blog, or the first stages of your baby-blog.
A few links you might be interested in:
Talkin' bout storytelling and media in Los Angeles
Blogworld and my Keynote talk – [and my slide pres.]
Social media and the Cape Town Commitment
Find your Inner Luke and Blog On
You bring the memory of my dad passing away to the forefront of my mind. He died the month after my first child was born. I remember holding my son in front of his coffin wishing that my dad would had had the opportunity to see his newest grandson. We happened to live about 5 hours away from them.
My brother was with me, and drew us close in a big hug. I have a big, really big big brother. I mentioned what I was regretful of, and he told me that dad was able to see him, at least a picture at least. You see, my brother was at the hospital the day after that nights birth. He took a phone pic, and forwarded it to our mother, who happened to have a new phone capable of receiving said picture. She showed the pic to my dad!
Thank God for mobile technology, and an elderly mother who is an early adapter. 🙂
Thanks for today.
This post has been in me for several days – and you’ll see the impact that today has had on it I imagine 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this post. I have found the same thing in my life. In fact the more I wear a mask of “everything is fine” the less effective I become both as a pastor, as a believer, and as a writer. It is the sharing of our honest journey with God that people can relate to and identify with. The Immanuel principle “God with us” and the knowledge that Jesus is a High Priest that knows our human weaknesses, is the drawing factor in why people come to love Him so much.
Blessings to you!
I used to blog a lot – then people started using RSS more and more – commenting less and less and I too drifted away
blogging became a chore and no-longer THE place to swap stories to encoruage one another to re-dream Kingdom stuff
and now I’m back again reading this reminded of the dumbbell – reminded how Jesus IS in what we do and say and how we process
and I’m thankful that He used you (again) to speak into what I do and who I am.
We’ll be waiting for each bit of news from you and the family in China.