How have you seen God working in your life this week?
In the summer of 2021, Pastor Dan Ellis and the 2022 Vision Team from Rileyville Baptist Church (RBC) in Luray, VA, sought the Lord for a one-year goal. Coming out of the pandemic, they felt the congregation was languishing. Pastor Ellis explained, “We had not experienced division or disunity through the pandemic, but we also were not experiencing the joy of Christ either.”
Steps of Faith
As the team prayed, they believed God wanted RBC to take steps of faith in obedience to His Word. They knew those steps of faith would be personal, as people looked to see where God was working and got involved. Steps of faith would also be planned, as the church offered opportunities for outreach and missions for the following year.
The challenge was knowing how to measure these steps of faith. “The only way we could measure was through testimonies,” Ellis recalled. “Because our mission statement is ‘Helping People in the Valley Say Yes to Jesus,’ we decided to call these testimonies Yes Stories. By saying yes to Jesus, we don’t mean saying yes to Him for the first time (justification), but saying yes to Him for the 500th time (sanctification).”
A Goal and Plan
The vision team set a goal of 52 unique Yes Stories by members who would share in weekly Sunday worship gatherings.
The plan was for God’s people to brag about God for how He came through when they obeyed Him despite their fear. They needed to know there was a blessing in saying yes to Jesus.
At all elder, deacon, prayer, and life group gatherings, this question was asked: “How have you seen God working in your life this week?” This question laid the groundwork for RBC to focus on what God was doing in and through His people rather than on what had been going wrong.
Pastor Ellis and the Vision Team believed that if they saw how God was working in His people, they could prayerfully discern their next steps as a church in following Him.
Ellis testified, “We never got desperate about having a Yes Story for Sunday. Some came a few days before the needed Sunday, but most of the time, we had half a dozen lined up in a row.”
Guidelines for a Yes Story
The guidelines for a Yes Story were: Be Audible, Be Brief, and Be Christ-Centered. Here a a few Yes Story examples:
- A woman saying yes to praying for her mother, who had abandoned her for drugs when she was just a child
- People saying yes to new ministry assignments that were scary (student ministry, children’s ministry, senior ministry, leading the building and grounds team, etc.)
- People sharing from the baptistry how they said yes to Jesus and made Him the Lord of their lives
- Someone saying yes to going on a mission trip to Puerto Rico or the Middle East and sharing how
- Others trusted God to sustain them as a caregiver and found strength in the Lord and their church family
Yes Stories brought transformation at RBC. “I think what is celebrated was repeated,” said Pastor Ellis. “This allowed us to celebrate saying yes to Jesus, causing more and more people to want to say yes. The Yes Stories did more than we expected. They allowed our church to get to know each other deeper and more personally, and it reminded many that they were not alone in their fears and struggles. What started to move us towards a discipleship culture where we expected to hear God speak moved us personally as we responded to him in faith and obedience. God used these testimonies to move us from focusing on negative things to focusing on the positive of what God is doing. He wants us to be involved.”
At the end of 12 months, Rileyville Baptist Church had shared over 60 unique Yes Stories. The Yes Stories were so encouraging, the church decided to make them a part of their culture as a church. They will still share at least one Yes Story each month. ■
Resource: For more information, contact Dan Ellis at email@example.com
Recent Impact of Yes Stories
Sharon Liott, an RBC member who shared a Yes Story last year, recently passed away. She had said yes to starting a senior adult ministry called Tabitha’s Ministry of Hope. Sharon’s passing was sudden and unexpected, but her funeral service was like none other. Many remembrances had the same theme: Sharon’s life illustrated the beauty and blessedness of continually saying yes to Jesus. Through her simple obedience, God brought transformation to her, her church, and her community. Her last yes was creating a team of people to help her with Tabitha’s Ministry. Sharon’s pastors encouraged her to build a team so she would not do ministry alone, and she did. Because she said yes to building this team (just a few months before her death), Tabitha’s Ministry continues.
The day before her funeral, 10 people came together to pack 150 care packages for funeral homes in our community. The Wednesday before Christmas, this team and 20+ others went caroling and shared the Gospel of Christ.
There is always a blessing to saying yes to Jesus.