Why We Use the Word "Story"

From time to time, someone will ask, "Why do you call your ministry the Gospel Story-arc? Doesn't the word story imply that it's not true?"

The short answer is, "No, the word story implies no such thing."

Of course, stories can be works of fiction. But they can also be totally true.

For example, when someone comes from work and says to a spouse, "You wouldn't believe what happened at work today...," and then they proceed to tell what happened, they are telling a story. And the spouse listening to them will not accuse them of spinning a tale, at least not at first, and not without reason, but will assume that what they're hearing is true.

The word story is a generic term, much like the word drink in North American culture. If you ask for a drink in my house, whatever I give you to quench your thirst will not have any alcohol in it, unlike a drink served at a bar. Same word, different meaning—the context makes the difference.

But context is not the only difference when it comes to story. Author Kendall Haven explains, "Story is not the information...[that someone shares]. Story is a way of structuring information." It is a form of communicating, a form that gets people's attention, and that draws them in, inviting their participation, their remembering, and their re-tellings.

The Gospel Story-arc is not a work of fiction. It's content is totally true, 100%. We call it the Story-arc, because we follow the story structure found in Scripture revealing who Jesus is. 

By the way, it's the Gospel Story-arc, not "ark" (as in Noah), and not "arch" (as in construction and architectural design). A story-arc is simply a way of telling what a story is about using its plot line. I'll write more about this on some other occasion.

In the meantime, here's one more thing I usually share whenever someone looks skeptically on our use of the word story to share the Gospel. It's a hymn that was written in 1888 by none other than Fanny Crosby, and it's entitled, "Tell Me Story of Jesus."

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”


Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past.
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore.
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.


Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.


Tell how He's gone back to heaven,
Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding
While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit
He has poured out from above;
Tell how he's coming in glory
For all the saints of His love.







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Randal Gilmore