By Mark A. Taylor
Like every great novel or memorable movie, your story has a cast of compelling characters. And no matter how much you may hear about telling or improving your story, it will never be about you alone.
These other characters in your story set its plot even before you were born. Your parents and theirs, your siblings and your childhood have all colored and directed your story, probably in ways you don’t realize. This is why your counselor pokes and prods to know more about your family and your growing-up years. Your story is not about you alone.
And what’s true socially, financially, and psychologically is equally true spiritually. Like most Christians, you are likely the product of influence and teaching from a wide variety of sources. You came to Christ because someone invited you, demonstrated grace and obedience, pointed you to Scripture, and answered your questions. And despite the power of the Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit, you confess you need mentoring and accountability and companionship from other Christians if you are to stay true to Jesus. You will not tell a story of Christian victory if your story is about you alone.
Your spiritual story is just one chapter in a millennia-long account of God’s work through his people. Consider the faithful in every generation, and you realize you owe your story to many who have gone before. Your story is built on a rich history; it’s not about you alone.
That history applies not only to you, but also to your church and the movement that gave birth to your congregation. Certainly this is true for those attending the North American Christian Convention this summer. What a story this is! It’s a story of pioneering preachers unwilling to submit to the manmade rules of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. It’s the story of believers intrigued by the possibility of living and serving as Christians only. It’s the story of determined independence in response to those who leaned toward unproductive connections. It’s the story of insistent commitment to the deity of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, the efficacy of baptism, and the centrality of the Lord’s Supper.
Time will tell how much of this story is retold at this NACC. But you do well to remember it. Yes, your story is about you and Jesus and other Christians. Yes, your story is about you and the congregation that leads you to worship and serve him weekly. But there’s more.
At gatherings like the NACC, you can celebrate a movement nurturing the simple Christianity that has allowed your story to flourish. It’s one more dynamic way your story is not about you alone.