Telling “The Big Story”

Tomorrow night Mike and I are going to lead an evangelism seminar for Upper Room folks down at 5828.  Yes, I just used the “E-word”.  Evangelism seems to have scary connotations for a lot of people.  It inspires fear in those who are afraid of being the targets of evangelism – wary of manipulation and distrustful of Christians who don’t look anything like the Jesus they claim to follow.  And it inspires fear in Christians themselves, who for a plethora of reasons have trouble speaking honestly about Jesus and what it means to follow him. 

At the evangelism seminar tomorrow, we’re going to include a video which I think demonstrates a way of honestly sharing what it means to follow Jesus, without manipulation of the person to whom the story is told, and without unfair pressure to “prove” anything on the part of the person telling the story.  The video is called “The Big Story” and it was made by James Choung.  Take a look:

I like this video for a few reasons: (1) It sets Christianity in the context of the story of the world.  It’s not about proving a system of doctrine; it’s about the ongoing story of the world, and our place in it.   (2) The portrait of “salvation” that’s given is communal, not an individualistic reduction of the Gospel:  “Jesus is starting a revolution and he’s asking us to be healed ourselves in Jesus’ name, to be in each other, and to go out and heal the planet.  And our mission is to be sent together to heal.” (3)  It speaks to a generation that’s eager to participate in healing work in the world.  I know a lot of people who want to work for justice, peace, equality, and care for the environment, but who aren’t Christian.  Often, they outdo Christians at the very works we’re called to.  This presentation of mission bridges that gap. (4) It’s concise.  I truly believe that genuine sharing about Jesus happens best organically through natural relationships, over time.  (To use a phrase from Adam McHugh again, “exploring mystery together” is how I work.)  But, a Christian should be able to share concisely what they believe and why they believe it.  Choung does that here in a way that’s inviting and without coercion.  (5)  The visual-aids which are drawn in the video don’t rely on individualistic reductions of the Gospel, unlike so many other examples that I’ve seen.  (Think canyon with “you” on one side, “God” on the other, and a cross forming the bridge.)

Now look at how Choung continues:

Attributing all the good things in the world to followers of Jesus is obviously an exaggeration; we’ve screwed up lots and lots and lots of times.  But, there is much hope in following Jesus, legitimate hope for the transformation of the world.  And we can only truly love through Jesus: “Through Jesus we can become the greatest lovers on the planet.”  His description of response to Jesus includes repentance and forgiveness, but not in an individualistic way.  This avoids the consumer-evangelical mindset and presents committment to following Jesus as a committment to his mission of redeeming the world.  Great.  

What are the other strengths or weaknesses of this telling of the Christian story?


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