Sharing Stories: Five Kinds
Sharing stories is an important part of Joy Groups. Stories are life-changing because they are one of the ways we help each other grow. They are living examples of how we have practiced the relational skills, of how we acted differently than our old ways, how we failed to act like ourselves, or how we were or were not satisfied with how we handled an emotion. Sharing stories creates belonging around us as we share transparently and openly. As we share stories, we practice synchronizing, and our understanding of a truth becomes more clear. When someone shares a story with guidelines, the listeners feel safe because it’s less likely they will feel overwhelmed. In my Joy Groups we tell five types of stories: Appreciation moment stories, Immanuel moment stories, growth/insight or failure stories, return-to-joy stories, or an Immanuel healing story. Let’s look at these separately. (Thanks to Dr. Wilder and those at THRIVE/Life Model Works who taught us the importance of stories.)
Appreciation Moment Stories
We usually share stories about appreciation moments at the first part of group. These stories can be about something that God has done in the week, just something like flowers or birds, or a special moment with someone. Appreciation stories should be less than 1 minute as there are several people in group who want to share in the 10 minute-frame time. These stories don’t need a lot of detail. Sometimes we do appreciation moments by asking each person to just say two words that indicate something they appreciate. This makes everyone smile and synchronizes brains without giving details.
Immanuel Moment Stories
At the beginning of group, we take a few moments for Immanuel listening prayer. Then we briefly share stories of what we heard Jesus say to us or what we saw Him doing. These stories should take less than 1 minute.
These are stories from the week that illustrate how we acted differently than our usual actions would have been. They show how we are learning the relational skills and how we are maturing. They can also be about how we did not act like ourselves. We messed up–but we learned from it. Some of these stories will show how God showed us something new about ourselves or Him or His truth. These stories might be shared during the lesson as examples. It’s important that they be less than 3 minutes, are minor on details, and major on what we learned or what God did. It’s good if these stories include some emotions as we share how we acted like ourselves. If we did not act like ourselves, we can say how we wished we had acted.
Life Model Works’ THRIVE training uses return-to-joy stories to help others see how to get back to being glad to be together after there is some kind of upset. They are about a moderate feeling story that I have told before. It’s about me; I am involved. It illustrates a particular feeling. Here are their guidelines: “Briefly describe the situation. Know the feeling words you will use. Tell how your body felt. Show the emotion on your face. Tell how you were able to return to joy or if you did not, what you wish you could have done. Be concise, less than 3 minutes.”
Immanuel Healing Stories
If we have had an Immanuel prayer session for healing with a facilitator (or by ourselves), it’s important to tell the story of what Jesus did to resolve that hurtful memory. This story will take less than 3 minutes. Very briefly share a couple of sentences about the memory. No gory details. Share briefly about the feelings and/or how it has affected you before going to Immanuel. Focus what you share on what Immanuel did or said and how that felt (peace, relief, comfort). If Jesus showed you a lie that you believed about yourself, share how He showed you the truth about that. Share how things are different now.
Get Good at Telling Stories
Sharing stories helps our brain. Hearing stories helps us grow. Get good at this skill.