North Harbor Community Church is made up of amazing, broken, beautiful, and unique individuals. Each of us has a compelling story to share. The stories behind each person of this church make us who we are as the body of Christ. The purpose of this project is to allow us to truly see the individuals who make up our church and hear about the life-changing work God is up to among us. Our stories have been woven together in this church and each story allows us, together, to claim and celebrate the redeeming work of Christ. When we know who it is that we worship and serve with we can celebrate our differences, commune on common ground, and be inspired by God’s love displayed to His people. We are the Church. We are North Harbor.
We are interviewing people in North Harbor to find out their stories, to give faces to who North Harbor really is. The idea of this project came about last year when Dan was getting ready to go on his sabbatical and the leaders of the church were stressing how Dan is not the church and we can all use our gifts during his time away to make this church what it is. We started thinking about if we are the church, then who are these people who make us who we are? So that is where this project began, as a “get to know you” community building project, but as we’ve been interviewing people we’ve been experiencing so much more than we could have imagined because there is so much honesty in these stories and so much beauty and mess among us and so much restoration happening in and through it.
If you’ve been to North Harbor long you know we talk a lot about Genesis, and this project is unintentionally going to follow that same path. The fall was not just a separation of self and God, but of relationship with God, other people, self, and creation. And Jesus is redeeming all aspects of relationship. And I am learning that having the courage to be vulnerable with each other and to share stories is joining in God’s redemptive work of restoration through relationship.
Because your story helps others experience restoration with God. It allows us to see God differently than we might on our own. Our collective stories show over and over and over again the power of a living God and inspires worship.
Your story brings restoration to our person to person relationship because it makes us feel less alone in experiences that we have in common. It allows us to see differences and celebrate them instead of allowing ignorance to divide us. It helps us release shame around messy things in our lives that we might be tempted to keep hidden. It deepens community which God created us for.
Sharing our story brings restoration to our relationship with ourselves. It helps us process our own experiences differently and changes our personal experience when we say it out loud to another person.
Through these stories we are also seeing restoration in our connection with the Earth. People are experiencing their world differently once having an experience with God. There are stories of senses being heightened, of environmentalism being awoken, of being able to interact with creation more deeply.
Sharing our stories is proclaiming God’s redemptive work. And the story that was once my story or your story is now our story as it is God’s big story of redemption.
Our hope for this project is that you not just read the stories as they are posted on the blog, but that you interact with them and with God through them. We have added some questions along with the stories to help you start to wonder what God might be sharing through this particular story. We invite you to sit with God and the story. How does this story make you feel? Does it give you a different impression of God? Does it allow you to say “me to”? Or does it allow you to feel more compassion towards someone? Listen to God as you hear these stories, and then pray, meditate on them, worship God through the story. And then act on it. Don’t be afraid to talk to the person who shared. They just laid you some pretty intimate details of their lives in some cases, and they haven’t done it to get your praise, but a “thank you”, or a “me too”, or a “tell me more”, might go a long way. And then consider sharing back. Be courageous. Whether it be with the person whose story it was that inspired you, or talk to someone else in your life about who you really are, or be a part of our project. We would love to see all of North Harbor involved. These stories are a celebration of God’s work, His messy unfinished work, and it’s not always easy to be the one sharing, but I have already been blessed by the courage of those who have shared, and I hope you will be as well as we role these out. If you want to be involved or have any questions you can talk to Elaine DeFreitas or Zoe Reyes, and be on the lookout on the website and facebook.
Update: The first story is live! Check it out at the blog post HERE!
To watch Elaine introduce the project and share the trailer, check out THIS VIDEO.