Story Session 11: Leonard Sweet

As a historian of American culture; as a futurist/semiotician who “sees things the rest of us do not see, and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining;” and as a preacher and writer who communicates the gospel powerfully to a postmodem age by bridging the worlds of academe and popular culture. In 2006 and 2007, Len was voted by his peers “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” by ChurchReport Magazine.

Singing Stories

  • I love it when poets pay homage to storytellers.
  • I want to begin with a poem by Thomas McGraff.
  • “All time is redeemed by the singular person who remembers and resurrects. I remember, I keep the winter count.”
  • Everyone of you is a keeper of the winter count.
  • American Indians kept history in a unusual way. They counted years by winters. In the fall when it looked like the year was ending, they would call the years “winters.”
  • There was a person called a count. His job was to keep an account of the events that took place during the year. This was their annual report. They presented their annual report as a story. The keeper of the winter account was the storyteller who would preserve the memory.
  • The function of a storyteller was to remember and resurrect the life of that community. And to conserve the memories of the past in story form.
  • You and I have been chosen and called by God to be storytellers in a very different world than the one that most of our churches are used to.
  • I was born in a Guttenberg world. Many of you were born in a Google world. TGIF “Twitter” “Google” “iPhone” “Facebook”
  • Most of our churches are stuck in this Guttenburg world. They try to preserve the old country songs and rituals. Most of the fights are not about preserving authentic Gospel, they are about preserving the old country.
  • The first thing a missionary storyteller does is to learn the language of the culture.
  • If you’re going to communicate to a new culture then you have to learn the language.
  • The language of a TGIF world is image and story.
  • There is a war going on in the world right now and it will be won by whoever tells the best story.
  • The future belongs to the storytellers. The future belongs to the artists.
  • “In the medieval world the church saved the arts. In the future the artists will save the church.”
  • “What is the secret of your storytelling?” “My stories are all the same, my plots are the same. Girl falls in love with boy.” “What is so exciting about that?” “Different boy.”
  • All storytelling is based on not this incredible notion that storytellers are crazed creatures. Think of your artistry in another way. Think of it as short-order chefs. You cook food in the kitchen with your stories that people need to live. In your cooking, your stories, you’re enabling the soul to grow.
  • Soulgrow.
  • Jesus was the greatest storyteller of all time. That is how he communicated.
  • I warn you, the storytellers are killed first.
  • They didn’t crucify Jesus because he was a good theologian, but because he was a great storyteller.
  • Do you know any book that has ever looked at Jesus as an artist?
  • Let me make some suggestions on how to produce some things in the kitchen.
  • First, he used a lot of sugar and salt.
  • Sugar and salt heightens the urge to see what happens next, and the urge to come back for more.
  • Second, you need the right utensils.
  • In a Google world, we need carving knives. Pearing knives are good for cutting upwards, and carving knives are good for carving out images in the story.
  • The currency in this world is images not words.
  • The Bible wasn’t written in verses. It was written in a natural way. Lets cut them out rather than cutting them out.
  • Third, use pepper. Jesus always spiced up his stories with some surprises.
  • A world without passion is a world without beauty, or truth.
  • You become what you tell. You become the story. You become someone who forgives your enemies.
  • What kind of stories are we going to tell?
  • We all have a favorite story to tell.
  • What story do you love to tell?
  • Our favorite story ought to be the story of Jesus.
  • When the favorite story of the church becomes anything else, we are in trouble.
  • We have to go beyond telling to the story, to singing the story. The greatest sermons are those that are preached on Sunday, and sung on Wednesdays.
  • A storyteller learns the stories that you can take those stories and turn them into songs.
  • I did a little research on the song “Waivin’ Flag” written by Kannan.
  • In England you know where the King or Queen is, because they fly a flag.
  • Maybe it is time the church of Jesus Christ started flying the right flag. Jesus is the Kingdom.

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