Get your people scanner ready

| January 24, 2011 | 0 Comments


Are you a storm chaser or spotter? Years ago I had a friend who lived for the storms. He volunteered with the Red Cross, so he could be on the scene when tornados hit. Since those days I have learned more about the structure. In fact, there is now a national training and certification program for Storm Chasers and Spotters. These guys are seasonal and usually localized volunteers who observe and report threatening weather. The majority of storm spotters are never without their scanner.

Spotter training and experience varies. Law enforcement officers and fire department personal may also serve as “spotters” in some locations. Spotters are often the unsung heroes, risking life and property to get the story of the real-time storm to the local authorities.

What would it be like if we had faith crisis spotters, who reported the stories of God’s encounters with people in struggles? These volunteers would make it a priority to look for tough times, scanning their friends and neighbors for potential God sightings.

That would be exciting and encouraging and just what we need.

It reminds me of Psalm 71:17-21. Verse 18 is especially provocative…
“Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.” It’s like he wants to be a reporter, telling and retelling the stories of God’s encounters with his people.

Then the writer prays, God, “you have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.”

He knows when God is about to show up, because he’s been there. He has gone through the fire and knows how God works the in crisis to bring a blessing. That’s a story worth telling.

My God is not buried in the pages of a book, is yours? If your God still show up, then it’s time to speak up, not in religious words or spiritualized “holy” talk, but in real stories of the real moments. Tell about the blessings, the kindnesses and surprises, the interventions, the rescues, and the healings, the miracles, the unexplainable moments, the personal discoveries and insights and understandings, the revelations, transformations, and liberations, the nudges, the pushes, and the whacks up the side of the head. Tell about second touches, out of the blue connections, the interventions, initiations, innovations, and instigations of others. Take the time to tell!


In their terrific book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath share a story that needs to be told and retold. The organizers of a conference asked Gary Klein‘s (Sources of Power) firm to provide a summary report and review of their scheduled conference. They wanted something more compact than a transcript and more coherent than a collection of the PowerPoint presentations.

Klein’s firm assigned one person to monitor each of the conference’s five parallel tracks. The monitors attend each panel, and each time someone told a story they jotted it down. At the end of the conference the monitors compared notes and found that they had a collection of stores that were funny and tragic and exciting and extremely meaningful.

So, they structured and organized the stories and sent the packet to the conference organizer.

She was ecstatic. She found the packet to be extremely valuable and much more vivid and useful than the typical conference takeaway: a set of dry, jargon-filled abstracts. She even requested funds from her organization to convert the notes into a book. Meanwhile, as a courtesy, she sent the summary notes to all the conference presenters.

They were furious. They were insulted that their professional and carefully crafted presentations had been reduced to stories and anecdotes. They wanted to be remembered for their advice, their slogans and words of wisdom, not for the stories they told. To them the stories were filler and fluff. The complaints were so vigorous that the project was abandoned.

Truth is hidden here, right on the surface. The real message lives in the story, not in the PowerPoint. At times, the messaging begins to think he or she is more important than the message.

Stories give life to words, even fancy words, even wise swords.

Stories stimulate and inspire. That’s why God inhabits them. And, that’s why we collect them.


From a faith perspective every struggle has a story.

The action item for this week is simple. Ask God to open your eyes, to turn on your people scanner. Invest some time chasing a story for God. Take some notes and then post it. Go to Post the Story and report your “God sightings” in the reply section at the bottom of the page.

Together we will build the largest collection of God Stories ever assembled. With your help God will be honored and believers will be encouraged and lifted and inspired.

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Category: Faith Notes

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