Shape it Story-like

The most insightful thing I ever said?

“You and your wife’s marriage is shaped like an argument. What you need is a marriage that’s shaped like a story.”


Photo: Sara McAllister

When I uttered this, I was just beginning to climb out of my argument-shaped marriage and dip into my story-shaped marriage. (Both were to the same woman, mind you.)

We’ve had some great arguments since that time. Just the other day we spent half an hour arguing and exhibiting the proper form for doing squats. We both marshaled YouTube videos. In the end, we agreed to disagree. All this while millions of other married folks were making love. Ah well.

But we’ve enjoyed the last 4 years of story-shaped marriage. Immensely.

How to Shape Things Argumentatively

But we began marriage differently. How? With lots of convictions about what Christian marriage was supposed to mean, what it symbolized, what it demonstrated to the world. And yet it was not until rather recently that we realized that we could not enjoy our marriage, much less provoke our friends and neighbors with its beauty and mystery, if our marriage was shaped in an argumentative fashion. As though we each had something to prove, an argument to win, a victory to claim over one another, over other married couples, and over the rest of society.

About the same time—and I highly doubt this was a mere coincidence—I awakened to the fact that my ecclesiastical life was tragically shaped like an argument instead of a story. I thought of other denominations of Christians, of my pastors, of my elders, of my church friends, of non-Christians, as my opponents in an argument that I couldn’t lose without losing my very self.

Church Planting Sculpture

You’ve really got two choices in church planting.

  1. Plant a church which is shaped like an argument that you are determined to win.
  2. Plant a church which is shaped like a story which you are determined to tell, and in which you are determined to dwell.

I have made some arguments on this site — about 104 of them to date — about how to wisely plant a church. But what you’d experience if you spent a couple weeks with our church plant is not the strident corporate embodiment of a set of  church planting convictions. What you’d experience is the living body of Christ pulsating with life and carrying on in and with the story of redemption.

Heading into 2014, I feel like the luckiest church planter ever. I’ve got a wife with whom I regularly marvel at the joy of doing life together. And I’ve got a church in which we’re learning to lean into the story of God more and more each day.

Plant a church, and shape it like a story.

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