Every two years, Story Team invites artists to be a part of our staff in order to grow in their craft, spiritual disciplines, leadership, and theology. These residencies are a part of a program called Austin Stone Institute at The Austin Stone Community Church. I have been a volunteer editor on Story Team for a little over two years, and early this year, God specifically placed it on my heart to apply for the new round of residencies that were available to our team.
Back in March, after meeting with our Lead Storyteller, Steven Bush, and Lead Writer, Brian Lundin, it was clear to me that this residency was what the Lord had planned for my life. During that discussion, I talked with the guys about the heart behind Story Team and the purposes and goals the staff had for the residents. The excitement I had when I left the office that day is a feeling I won’t soon forget—I was so ready to join a team that is passionate about telling true stories of gospel transformation.
I started my residency on September 1st, and amidst all the things I’ve learned so far, there are two things that I think are absolutely essential for a Story Team (or any ministry) to value—team unity and identity. Here are four ways I’ve seen these values lived out this month, and I pray they encourage you to do the same.
Gather at the Table
For our Story Team Resident Orientation, we gathered at our lead storyteller’s home. The itinerary for the day consisted of reviewing our team’s mission, vision, and goals. We also learned what our specific roles on staff would be—we have three film residents, one editorial resident (me), and a photography intern.
We started out our day with introductions, and sat around the table with our coffee mugs in hand. One by one, we shared our journeys to becoming Story Team Residents and staff members. What began for many as sharing supposed “career journeys,” quickly turned into confession and testimonies.
Rather than diving straight into logistics, we rested at the very heart of Story Team—stories of gospel transformation. While we are storytellers of other people’s experiences, as a staff, we also have our own stories about how God transformed our lives and brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Meet and Pray Together
Another rhythm of our team is weekly staff meetings where we each share what we are working on for that week. It is a chance for us to discuss the projects we are focusing on, the help we might need from our team, and the accountability necessary to complete our work. During staff meeting, we also share prayer requests and talk about things that might be on our hearts personally, or related to work. In this way, our team prays for one another and encourages each other. After every staff meeting, I leave feeling refreshed, encouraged, and ready to tackle my projects.
Read and Learn, Collectively
As a staff, we are collectively reading through a book by Matt Perman called, What’s Best Next. In his book, Perman uses the gospel to teach his readers how productivity and effectiveness at work is directly tied to our view of the gospel and our identity as ambassadors for Christ. Every Monday, our team meets for book club, where we talk about what we’ve learned, what stood out to us, or what we might be challenged by. (We also order delicious pizza to munch on, but that’s besides the point.)
It is incredible to see how our team is learning together and incorporating our discoveries into our daily tasks. Learning how to be productive and effective in our work in order to do good for others and glorify God has knit our team closer together.
Remind Your Team of Their Identity
The most loving thing that our staff has done for me and my fellow residents is to constantly remind us of who we are in Christ. While they encourage us and lead us well in Story Team operations, there is not a week that goes by without our supervisors pausing to point us back to Jesus. We are a team of filmmakers, writers, and photographers, but more than that, we are a family of sons and daughters of God.
I truly believe that our team is able to publish and produce excellent stories of gospel transformation that are true and well-crafted because we love each other as brothers and sisters, not employees. We are children of God first, and then we are the artists who do the work God created us for.
I hope this was helpful for you to consider as you lead a staff of artists or desire to launch a team of storytellers who tell excellent stories and love each other well.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)