To be a community of artists who use creative storytelling to glorify the name and purpose of Jesus Christ, encourage the saints and compel all people to gospel action.
To pioneer and cultivate creative storytelling in the local and global church through innovative and compelling art that leads to gospel-centered restoration in our city and the nations.
God is doing some amazing things in our church, city and world that most people never hear about. People are being saved, orphans are being adopted, families are taking in children who were once stuck in the endless cycle of the foster care system, marriages are being restored, communities are being transformed, people are living on mission in their neighborhoods and overseas, addicts are being set free from sin and addictions … the list goes on and on. God deserves all the honor and praise for who he is, as well as what he has done and is continually doing through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The Story Team wants to do all we can to make sure our church and the rest of the world can see, hear and read about the great things God is accomplishing.
The Story Team wants to do all we can to make sure our church and the rest of the world can see, hear and read about the great things God is accomplishing.
We do this because we hope and believe that storytelling will be used to help deepen the worship of the saints. Whenever people read about how God is at work, they can't help but take a moment to reflect on what has happened and to thank God for doing such a thing. We are created to worship our great God, and our worship is deepened when we are constantly being reminded of his redeeming love working in the lives of people all around us.
Living a life that is dedicated to following Jesus is not easy. He never guarantees us a free ride. If anything, he promises that trials and persecutions will come if we truly are following him and living a life worthy of our calling. Paul is a great example of this. He experienced so many trials and persecutions, yet he kept the faith and finished the race well. How did he do it? He was encouraged by the saints. His epistles are marked with references to people in his life that served as an encouragement to him while he was in prison and being persecuted for his faith and sharing the gospel.
He also spent a great deal of energy and words encouraging others to keep the faith and keep hoping in the saving grace of Jesus. Paul knew the importance and need for encouragement, and we believe that storytelling can help serve as a way to encourage the saints in our church and churches all over the world.
It is not easy to live on mission in such a broken world. It's not easy to keep loving the difficult neighbor or family member who won't give you the time of day. It's disheartening to keep serving each week at the local food pantry and never see life change in the people you are around. It's overwhelming to live in an inner city neighborhood plagued with crime, drugs and prostitution and never really see any gospel change. When you don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, it can be easy to become discouraged and feel like giving up.
It doesn't take much for us to succumb to tunnel vision in the way we see our current circumstances, life of mission, or the difficulties we face. We get so consumed with our trials that we never take the time to look up and see what's going on around us.
Many of us are living, loving and seeing no fruit from our efforts. Many of us are on the verge of throwing in the towel.
We think that the mission is too difficult, and we’re ready to give up hope. We are in need of encouragement. We need to be reminded that God is sovereign and faithful. We need to be reminded that the war has already been won and that God is still changing lives.
This is why we believe in the power of storytelling and why we work so hard to tell great stories. God is doing powerful things in our city. He is saving people from their sins. He is changing neighborhoods. He is on the move and fulfilling his great redemption story. We just need to be made aware of what is happening. When we hear of the great things God is doing in our church and city, it gives us hope to keep loving and serving where God has us. Even if we never see fruit from our labor, we keep going because we are hearing and reading about the great things God is doing all over our city through our fellow brothers and sisters. It gives us motivation to keep loving. It encourages us to keep living the lives that God has called us to live.
Many people in our churches have yet to fully engage the gospel in all aspects of their lives. This can be the result of numerous reasons. We know that some people have not fully embraced missional lifestyles because they don't know how to do it. They might be afraid to step out in faith because they fear the unknown. Many people simply don't believe that God can use them to bring about change. Others don't believe that they have much to offer. Many people don't think they have what it takes to move overseas for the sake of gospel. Others don't think they have what it takes to relocate their families to a part of the city that needs gospel influence. The list of reasons goes on and on.
We believe that God uses stories to move the hearts of people just like he uses a sermon or a worship song. Stories help personify what pastors preach from the bible by giving real life examples of people living out the truths being taught. Something is stirred in the hearts of the captive audience when they read or hear about a family who has adopted two kids from the foster care system. Something deep inside their spirits is moved when they read about a family of five that has sold everything to move to a Muslim country in order to share the gospel. Couples are moved and encouraged when they read about God restoring a marriage that was on the brink of ending because of infidelity.
We believe that God uses stories to move the hearts of people just like he uses a sermon or a worship song.
People relate to the stories of other people who are going through the same things they are going through. Stories help people to realize that it doesn't take a super Christian to live on mission. The stories we tell help show that God uses normal, everyday people to do extraordinary things. We hope that when people read these stories they are compelled to go and do the same. We hope that they see themselves in the stories and can move and act on the call that God is placing on their lives.
The Austin Stone believes that storytelling is both biblical and powerful. When you look at the Bible in its entirety, you see that it is one giant narrative. It is God's story about the creation of this world, the fall of man and the restoration of a broken world. We are all living in the midst of God's great redemption narrative.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see that he often used storytelling to teach those around him. He used simple stories and parables to communicate deep truths about God and his kingdom. Jesus knew that stories impacted people and he used these stories to speak directly to the hearts of those who heard them. When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus was a master storyteller.
Storytelling was also used by Paul in the book of Acts. In Acts 14 we read about Paul and Barnabas and all of the things they encountered while on one of their missionary journeys. They preached the gospel, were nearly stoned to death, made many disciples, planted churches, and established elders. God was moving in their lives and they were seeing much fruit being produced from their efforts. When they returned to Antioch, the place from which they were sent, the first thing they did was gather the church together and declare all that God had done for them. They wanted to share how God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas used storytelling to encourage the saints and share of the mighty works of God in their lives and the lives of the people they came in contact with on their journey.
We see another great example of storytelling in the book of Joshua. Moses had just died and God commissioned Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Joshua was instructed by God to command the priests to take up the Ark of the Covenant and step into the Jordan River. God promised that the river would stop and gather in one heap and the people would be able to cross over on dry ground. The priests did as they were commanded and God did what he said he would do. The waters stopped and the entire nation was able to cross over on dry ground. In chapter 4, the Lord told Joshua to select 12 men, one from each tribe, and have them each carry a stone from the riverbed and place them into a pile on the other side of the river. The stones were to serve as a reminder for all of the generations to come. When younger generations would ask what the stones represented, the people would tell the story of how God stopped the Jordan River and allowed the entire nation to pass over into the Promised Land. The Joshua Stones served as an ebenezer, a visual reminder and a story of how God moved in the lives of the Israelites.
These are just a few examples of storytelling that are found in the Bible. What we learn from this is that God created storytelling and we each play a role in his great story. We see that storytelling is an effective way to teach others about the truths of God. We also see how God can use stories, modern-day ebenezers, to remind of all the great things God has done in our lives and in our churches.
The Story Team has three full-time paid storytelling positions. These positions include the Filmmaker, Film Editor, and Story Team Director.
The Filmmaker and Film Editor work closely together with our pastoral staff and communications director to create short films and documentaries that help to creatively communicate the stories that are happening in our church.
The Story Team Director serves as the visionary and pastor to the volunteer artists who serve on the Story Team. The Director's responsibilities include: identifying and empowering creative artists within the church, pastoring artists and team leaders, and directing the Story Team leadership.
The Story Team is also made up of many talented volunteer artists who serve the church by using their God-given artistic abilities to tell stories. We range from 30-40 artists depending on the season and semester. These artists include photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians. The Story Team could not be what it is if it were not for the many talented artists who serve each month with their gifts.
The Story Team has placed a high value on storytelling. However, we have placed a greater value on the hearts and souls of the artists who help tell the stories. We want to pastor and lead our artists well. We want them to fully embrace the truth that their identity is in Christ alone and not in being an artist or what they create. We want artists to recognize that we are able to create only by the grace of God and therefore we want to use our gifts for his glory and kingdom purposes.
We want artists to recognize that we are able to create only by the grace of God and therefore we want to use our gifts for his glory and kingdom purposes.
For years, the church really hasn't had a place where artists can serve using their gifts other than playing music and leading worship. The heart of the Story Team is to create an environment and culture of storytelling in the church that allows for creative artists to use their God-given gifts to have a kingdom impact. Many artists find themselves serving in areas of the church that don't engage them to their fullest creative potential. Artists are more engaged and more fulfilled when they can serve their king with the artistic gifts he's given them and fully step into their role as a created beings who have the ability to create beautiful art that reflects the ultimate Creator.
The Austin Stone Story Team has a vision to help pioneer and cultivate creative storytelling in the local and global church through innovative and compelling art that leads to gospel-centered restoration in our city and the nations. We believe in the power of storytelling and we hope to see more and more churches and ministries begin to tell of the great things God is doing. We serve a mighty God who is worthy of our praise. If you are a pastor reading this, we hope that you begin to identify artists within your faith families and empower them to use their artistic gifts to tell great stories.
If you are an artist reading this, we hope that you will begin to use your artistic gifts to serve the church. Dream up ways that you can use your gifts, present them to your pastors and elders, and execute them with the utmost creative excellence.