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Made in the Streets

Charles Kiser —  January 7, 2010 — 1 Comment

In 2008, we started a Storyline Christmas tradition as part of the Advent Conspiracy: taking up an offering for a global service organization that serves the cause of justice. In 2008 we gave to Touch A Life, an organization that helps liberate children from slavery in Ghana, West Africa.

This Christmas we decided to continue the Advent Conspiracy tradition by making a donation to Made in the Streets. Made in the Streets serves streets kids in Nairobi, Kenya. They provide shelter, food and education to kids who would otherwise be left to roam the streets.

Watch this video to hear a story about Laurent, a young teenager whose life was changed by the ministry of Made in the Streets. Charles and Darlene Coulston, founders of the organization, tell the story.

A special connection is that South MacArthur Church of Christ, one of our partnering churches, is heavily involved in supporting Made in the Streets. It’s exciting to me the way Storyline is now able to come alongside South Mac in mission in this small way.

All are welcome to make a donation to help God’s work through Made in the Streets.

Storyline is accepting tax-deductible donations until Friday, January 8, here. If you’d like to make a donation directly to Made in the Streets after January 8, you can do so here.

We have the special opportunity to present Storyline’s gift to Charles and Darlene Coulton this weekend at our January worship gathering.

J. Withrow

Charles Kiser —  December 7, 2009 — 2 Comments

This is an awesome music video by Jairus Withrow, an intern with Storyline this past summer. Several Storyliners made cameo appearances in the video, including Mr. Ryan Porche.

From the J.Withrow website: “The ‘10,000 Words’ Music Video…[is] a modern day parable about a selfless rap artist, a confused world, and an evil liar.”

Watching the video reminded me of a metaphor Brian McLaren shares in his book More Ready than You Realize. The good news of the kingdom of God, he says, is like a good song. People hear the song – music of love, hope, peace and grace; it gets stuck in their heads; they begin to sing along with it; then they start to dance to it; before you know it, more and more people are moving in sync to the same song.

Bravo, Jairus, for singing the Song in a way that people can’t help but to listen.

I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from Jairus in the future. In fact, he’s starting a new band called Bus Seven. If you like what you saw in the music video, stay tuned for more at his website!

Storylines: Chapter One

Charles Kiser —  December 2, 2009 — 3 Comments

We’ve begun a new series of videos we’re calling Storylines – personal stories of Storyline people who are discovering their place in God’s story.

The makings of the first Storylines video began with five people praying together about a year ago.

We – the Kisers – had just been sent out by the Riviera (now Tribeca) church with a small team to start the Trianon church.

I still remember our first gatherings with our teammates, Patrick and Lauren Cone. We concluded the end of our meetings, as we do to this day, with the “empty chair prayer” – a prayer that points to the symbolic empty chair in the room as a way of reminding us of our mission to connect with those who are disconnected from God and/or Christian community.

In those days, there were more empty chairs than filled chairs.

One night after the empty chair prayer, Patrick scanned our empty living room and said, “You know, not too long from now, this room is going to be full of people. They’ll be overflowing to the dining room table and hanging out in the kitchen. I can see it now.”

Over the course of the next several weeks we began to pray during our empty chair prayer for one of Patrick’s co-workers. Patrick mentioned having good conversations with her and that she was a bit hesitant about church.

Then he started inviting her to join us for a house church gathering. And after a while, Deborah came.

I remember having emotional conversations with Deborah when she first started participating. She was in the midst of some pretty big life transitions and was putting the pieces together again.

In the months that followed, I saw Deborah grow and blossom in ways only God was capable of facilitating.

Before we knew it she was coordinating justice initiatives for our house church. This summer she organized the Neighbors’ Cookout that Storyline hosted in partnership with SoupMobile that fed hundreds of our homeless friends.

I remember nights when Deborah came to house church gatherings tired and drained from a long work week. She would say, “I’m so tired, but I wouldn’t miss this for anything. This charges me up. This is my family.”

Last month, in a living room full of people, the Trianon Church sent Deborah with a team of people led by Patrick and Lauren Cone to start the fourth Storyline house church.

Deborah is hosting the new church’s gatherings at her huge antique house in old east Dallas.

Just a couple weeks ago, four people sat around the living room in that big house and prayed for God to fill the empty chair again with those who are disconnected from God.

This story shows Storyline’s values for dependence on God, mission, life change and genuine relationships in action.

I pray God repeats this story hundreds and thousands of times in the Storyline Community in the years to come.

Because the Storyline Community – the Church – exists for people like Deborah.

You can also view this video and others at the Storyline website.

Open House Update

Charles Kiser —  February 12, 2009 — 11 Comments

What a great weekend! It’s almost surreal that Open House has come and gone. We had anticipated and planned for the day for many months.

120 people showed up to celebrate with us. Some came from our partnering churches and resource organization. Some responded to the postcard invitations we sent out into Uptown. Still others were friends who responded to various personal invitations.

The energy in the room was palpable.

We showed the new Storyline film, created by Patrick Cone, to kick off the morning. You can now see the film, as well as a new photo gallery, at the Storyline website.

Our framing story for the gathering was John 11:1-44, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. We talked about the way God through Jesus desires to bring resurrection and life into our present circumstances.

One of my favorite segments of the day was at the very end of the gathering — we invited representatives to the stage from eight area organizations who serve the Dallas community: Addison Rotary, Apartment Life, Center for Nonprofit Management, Central Dallas Ministries, Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce, North Texas Food Bank, SoupMobile and the Stewpot.

We committed to join them as they worked to “implement the resurrection of Jesus” in the city of Dallas. We told them we were proud of them and that we noticed the important work they were doing even if no one else did. Before we prayed for them, we read this blessing over them from N.T. Wright:

…What you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are — strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself — accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world — all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make. (Surprised by Hope, p. 208 )

I had a God moment after I was scurrying around trying to get ready for the concluding prayer segment. Others in the room were participating in different stations — communion, journaling, conversation and prayer.

Then in the midst of my busyness, a friend who we’d invited to come to the gathering approached me. He was weeping. He had encountered God. We prayed together and shared a special moment. He’d never been to a Storyline gathering before.

It was clear to me in that moment that the Holy Spirit was powerfully at work in his heart. It was as if God took me by the shoulders and shook me a little bit, saying, “Don’t miss it!”

Enjoy a few pictures from the day:

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Gathering