Story by Tiffany Doss
After seeing the success of nationwide storytelling competitions and exhibitions such as The Moth, a National Public Radio (NPR) show and podcast, last year Richard Castillo, an associate pastor of the Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., set out to create a program built around storytelling.
Castillo says the concept is simple—get people to tell their stories in a curated 10-12 minute format, and then spark conversation with challenging questions. “The ultimate hope of the program—which we named Reset—was an environment where each attendee would feel a freedom to share their own stories, allowing attendees to grow deep relationships,” he explains. “If people attend a church because they love the community around them, what better way to inspire community than by giving people a venue to share like no other will allow?”
Castillo says topics are meant to extend into attendees’ everyday lives, challenging them to reach deep and find something to share, that, in some cases, they may have never shared before. Then it’s the responsibility of the question facilitator to put a spiritual bow on the conversations. “At Reset, every night is about Jesus and how our lives may be better if we take our stories and experiences and lay them at the cross,” says Castillo.
Almost a year later, Reset is holding its own and showing what happens when you bring people together to worship and share their lives in a way in which many church environments aren’t equipped.
Reset begins its program with the Reset band, an eclectic group that loves to tell stories and praise God. “If you come to Reset, you might hear great hymns like Jesus Paid It All and Amazing Grace,” says Castillo, “but [with] a Reset flavor.” The band is led by prolific singer Lupita Garza, who takes each song, and with her team, turns it into something special.
“Reset is purely what it says it is—a reset,” shares Castillo. “For many it has become a true balm and therapy for the week. We meet each Saturday at 5 p.m. in the chapel at Sligo church. We want to introduce everyone to a place where it is OK to laugh, cry, share and allow others to know who you are. So, like we say, at Reset, ‘What’s your story?’”