Posts Tagged ‘biblical narrative’

This coming weekend marks my first foray into official MB Manitoba business.  After being a member of the Saskatchewan conference board for the previous two and a half years, meetings there felt pretty comfortable and I felt like I always had a handle on what was going on.  Going into my first meetings in a new province has a very different feel to it though as I do not have a board position, know few to none of the pastors attending the meetings, and generally feel like the new kid in class.

Beyond just the normal meetings and duties though this weekend, I have been asked to be a part of a panel presentation on sharing the story of Jesus in the context we live and minister in.  I’ll be one of three pastors from our conference that will have five minutes to share a story from this past year in which our faith community uniquely shared the message of Jesus.  I am glad to have the opportunity to share a little about my/our philosophy regarding sharing the message of Jesus with the world we live, and at the same time it is a pretty daunting task to think about sharing on that subject in five minutes or less.

I’m leaning towards sharing about how we handled advent this year and the great opportunities that came as a result of it, but even that will be hard to fit into five minutes.  This past year rather than do the traditional advent schtick (shepherds, magi, the star, and the Christ) we focused on laying out the biblical narrative over the course of four weeks in terms of The Problem, The Promise, The Waiting, and The Answer (creation/sin, covenants, exile, and the work of Christ and the Church).  I have not been a big believer in trusting Sunday morning monologue sermons as a great source of evangelism, but out of that advent season I know of a few people who were personally ministered to and decided to start following Jesus, and also a partnership was formed with a Spanish congregation in town looking for an established church to work with.

All this though I think raises a really important subject of how and what we share as the gospel.  When we share about God what is the content of what we share and what are the most effective means in your context to share it?  Many people would like to say the content of the gospel message should be never changing just the way in which it is presented should be tapered, but history shows us that this is never the case.  Our understandings of the message of Jesus seem to be a constantly growing and unfolding thing and every generation seems to focus to greater and lesser extents on different parts of Jesus message and what it means to be a follower of God.  What is the essential contents of the gospel to you and what are some of the most effective ways you have found to share it in your context?

I will admit that I have significant geek strains latent in my DNA that often unnoticed by the greater population.  I do not have a large comic book collection, do not frequent multiple message boards, and do not have an avatar on World of War Craft or Second Life.  I do however like to keep up to date on current nerd/geek news and read this post on io9.com today.

After reading the story about the p53 cancer assassin gene, I read their story/opinion piece on what causes superhero story lines to get bogged down in self-referencing and inside jokes.  While reading it I could not help but immediately starting to draw correlations between this story about comic book narratives and what churches often find themselves dealing with: going in the direction of insider language and references versus going in fresh new directions with regards to the gospel and church life.

To summarize the post the author, Charlie Jane Anders basically states that when it comes to the stories in comics authors have two basic directions they can go: to either reference old stories and characters that current fans love to keep them pacified and on-side or to start exploring new angles and story-arcs to expand upon the lore that already exists but at the risk of losing some old faithful fans that enjoy the stories and at the risk of just rolling out old ideas in a new barrel.  If a hero just keeps fighting the same enemies and rehashing old plot lines it keeps the faithful interested based on sentimentality, but after a while the old faithful are the only ones who can understand the story because it is expressed in so many layers of insider language.  There is a need for new areas of exploration to keep things fresh and interesting and to reach possible new fans, but the base is what keeps the hero interesting to its original fans and lets the comic creator in business.

I think our treatment of the scriptural narrative undergoes the same tension.  The narrative that plays itself out through creation, fall, covenant, exile, redemption and even through today has often been wrapped up in much insider language and story to keep us faithful Jesus followers happy that we often leave the continuing narrative of what God is doing and revealing in the world today out of the “original” narrative and instead relegate it to the realm of testimony instead of being integral parts of God’s story.  It is true we could likely keep rehashing the same story over and over with new coverings and keep the base happy, but what about exploring the new angles to bring the great story of God to new people?  What angles need to be explored?  How much self-referencing is healthy and appropriate?

After reading the article, what do you think?