Stories and Dialogue: Being and Becoming a Faith Community

Updated: 6 days ago


BY NOEL E K TAN Amongst God’s creations, only Man is “storied”. We share stories of past and present - how we come to be, who we are as individuals and communities; and stories of possible futures - hopes and dreams that God has placed in us. The “What?”: Stories and Narratives

Stories and Narratives are not quite the same. “Stories” are usually a chronological account of events, while “narratives” present key perspectives around those events. Narratives, therefore, can be used to shape thinking and lead to action-taking at community and organisational levels. For example, the Nativity story could be read simply as an account of Jesus’ birth, yet what the four gospels chose to highlight about the events surrounding it, reveal different aspects of who Christ is.

The “So What?”: Our 40th Anniversary Congregational Dialogue

Biblically, 40 years mark a generational shift and a milestone for reflection, and as “storied” people, a series of dialogue to harvest stories of God’s impact on COR members, both individually and collectively, is apt. We begin our Congregational Dialogue series in June at our Church Camp, where our shared stories will:

allow newer COR members to discover the considerations and decisions behind how COR started and grew;

provide decades-serving COR members the opportunity to hear the stories of newer COR members; and

help us as an whole church to discover the intangible resources that God has placed in his people in COR, and discern His will for COR’s future work.

When we come together in Dialogue and Story, we connect the individual to the collective narrative. During the traditional Passover meal, Jewish families all over the world tell and discuss the Passover story, eat and drink symbolic foods, and in doing so, transmit both cultural knowledge and the individual’s connectedness to God’s monumental rescue of His people, to even to this day.


Beyond reflection, Dialogue and Story helps communities and their leaders collectively identify core actions that can be undertaken together, as God continues to reveal His purpose for the church. In Acts 6-11, we see how dialogue helped the early church overcome the challenges of growing together in community, embracing the cultural differences of Jewish and Greek/Gentile believers, and responding to God’s leading in individual and collective ways. Through dialogue, the minds of leaders and people were renewed and expanded, and they emerged more integrated than before the events in Chapter 6.

I have puzzled over how in the early sections in Acts, that the apostles and Jewish believers were still struggling with the idea of Jesus saving the world and not just the Jews. Not only had Jesus clearly indicated his mission to them, they had even witnessed Jesus’ Great Commission statement and his dramatic ascension! Perhaps it is the dominant Jewish narrative from the time of the Diaspora that had them collectively focus on a search for an earthly Messiah, rather than what God Himself had in mind for His people and the world. Perhaps this traditional narrative could account for their initial difficulty in accommodating the different cultural aspects of being a gentile Christ follower and a Jew.


Sadly, while narratives can allow us to expand our experience when we allow ourselves to access new perspectives from other people, not doing so can also limit our vision and perspectives. Like looking only for an earthly Messiah of the Jews, we can overlook God’s larger purpose when we create a shallow narrative of who we are, how we relate to others, and how “we” might reach God’s purpose; or when we just keep echoing a narrative with those who share a history with us, rather than listen to and include those whose different narratives might provide another perspective that would stretch our understanding and experience of Him.


The “So What?”: How You Can Participate

At our first Congregational Dialogue in June, we will focus on our stories of

how we came to faith,

how we came to COR,

our personal high points and turning points, and

COR’s high points and turning points leading up to the present.

On 24 August 2019, our Dialogue’s focus will shift to our sensing of where God is leading us as individuals and as a church, which will allow us to make choices and own the shared future God has purposed for us. This will lay the foundation for a post-40th Anniversary COR Narrative for our next generational milestone.

Finally, we will have a smaller dialogue session for clergy and ministry leaders, to review the collected stories and data emerging from the 2 prior dialogue sessions, and piece together the collective strengths and aspirations of COR members. This group will draft an action plan based on the data, and bring it back to the people for input, before leading us in the next concrete steps into our shared future.

The details for the dialogues will be made available as the dates near. You are invited to join the dialogues however you are able to and bring your stories of your past, present and future to share with us, that we may grow together in God’s purpose for us.


在神的创造中,人类可能是唯一能被称为是“有故事”的创造。我们可以讲述、分享以及体会过去和现在的故事 – 我们有什么经历,以及我们分别作为个体与在信仰群体中的身份。我们也有能力想象以后我们是怎么样的,甚至将其想象向他人讲述。

“怎样” :故事与叙述

故事和叙述是相关的,但不尽相同。要把两者区分开来,最容易的莫过于把“故事”想象成按时序发生的一系列事件,而“叙述”则是突出一系列事件当中的主要观点。因此,个人和集体的叙述,可以用来影响想法,引导社群或机构的行动。

比如,人们可以将耶稣诞生的故事视为几个主要的历史场景,正如四福音从不同观点所描述的。然而从符类福音到约翰福音,它们对耶稣的描绘,都因作者而异。

“那又怎样”:40周年会众对话会

在圣经里,40年代表一个世代的改变,反思的里程。身为个“有故事”的人,40年也适合我们挖出神所影响复活堂会友的故事。


我们将会在六月的生活营开始各个堂会的对话会,所分享的故事会:

。帮助在复活堂创堂期间还没有加入的会友,知道且明白创堂的初衷;

。提供在建堂时已加入的会友,听见后来加入的会友个人的故事;以及

。帮助整个教会发觉神在他的子民当中所赐的资源,一起辨别神对复活堂未来的旨意。


通过故事与对话的分享扮演出一个非常重要的角色,能够把每个人带到同一个情节。例如说,就像今天的犹太家庭一起分享旧约逾越节的意义,我们要传达文化的知识,以及与神大能的拯救而联系。


除了集体的反思,故事与对话也成为了一个平台,帮助教会的肢体和领袖一起在神的启示中计划未来的道路。使徒行传6-11记录了在群体成长的挑战,如何接纳文化的差异,以及个人跟群体不同表达及回应神的方式。通过对话的方式,领袖和群体的思想都被更新及扩展、显得更融入,如同在第6章的情节一样。


在读使徒行传的时后,我不明白为什么犹太信徒,包括使徒,都能挣扎耶稣拯救的计划。祂来不只是要拯救犹太人,祂也包括了全世界。耶稣不单单明确的指导祂的旨意给他们,他们还听过耶稣所讲的大使命,继而目睹耶稣荣耀的升天。我觉得这是因为在流散后的世代,都是以犹太人为主,使得他们集体把专注集中在寻找地上的弥赛亚,而不是在看神为祂子民以及全世界的计划。也许因为他们传统的局面使他们不能轻易迁就其他不同的文化,例如跟随基督的外邦人。


可惜的是,如果我们不以对话和故事的分享来接触其他会友的新故事,分享也有可能限制我们的视力和视角。有时候,我们就像犹太人寻找地上的弥赛亚一样;因为以肤浅的视野来看待自己、与别人相处、或达成神的呼召,使我们忽略了神伟大的计划。如果我们只是重复提起那一些有比较多同享经历的故事,而不听取不同经历的人以不同观点的分享,我们就无法从另一个角度去认识神与经历祂的同在。

“那又怎样”:怎样参与

我们的会众对话会从6月份的生活营开始。

在6月的第一次对话会,我们会集中在以下的这些故事:

。我们怎样成为信徒,

。我们怎样来到了复活堂,

。我们的高潮低谷和转折点,以及

。复活堂从始至今的高潮低谷和转折点


在今年的8月24日,我们的对话会的焦点会在专注在了解神将如何带领我们个人,以及教会走向何方,使我们为我们教会的未来做出正确的选择。这会成为复活堂未来40年所打好的基础,成为世代中的里程。


最后,教牧同工也会进行一场对话会(日期未定),讨论之前两场对话的内容,整理出复活堂会众集体的优点与理想。然后,我们的领导层会制定一个行动的计划,再听取会众的意见,才往我们的共同目标进行下一步。


对话会的详情会在接近的日子让大家知道。我们欢迎您出席今年的对话会,把您的过去、现在和未来的故事同大家来分享,使我们可以一起在神的旨意中成长。 Noel Tan joined Chapel of the Resurrection in 2011, after serving a total of 29 years in the other 2 parishes in St Andrew’s Village. A consultant with his own practice, Noel helps leaders design stakeholder and citizen engagement for their organisations, and conducts process facilitator workshops. Noel is the immediate past Chair of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) Global Board (2016-2017), the first Singaporean/Asian to lead the North American-based association since its inception in 1994. He is married to Brenda and is father to Ethan, Edna and Ezra.

陈英杰花了29年在圣安德烈村的另外两个牧区服事。自从2011年,就开始成为复活堂的会友。身为一个顾问,英杰帮助社会上的领袖设计股东与人民的接触,主办一些过程引导者的工作坊。他是国际引导者协会全球董事会的前任主席。在1994年创始以后,他是第一个新加坡人代领这个美国组办的协会。陈英杰与施丽华已婚,育有三个孩子:陈义、陈慧和陈忠。

This article first appeared in Issue 19, April 2019 CHORUS Magazine.

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