We planted a church from a youth group several years ago, and as a result, I pastored a congregation of college aged men and women for a number of years. During this time, one of our young women sent me an email telling me she was about to participate in an in an outreach event sponsored by two large Christian campus ministries. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate the love of God on her campus, and a wonderful opportunity to talk about God with people who visited exhibits sponsored by the ministries. In preparation for this event, one of the campus ministries conducted training on possible ways to share the Gospel. They integrated the work of James Choung from his book, A Christianity Worth Believing In. Choung developed a three minute visual presentation of the Gospel, and the campus ministry started teaching this approach to the college students as they prepared for the outreach. The presentation was called The Big Story:
Is you watched the video, did you notice a shift in the Gospel message? I played the video for our church and simply opened the floor for comments. An astute 16 year old girl observed, “The presentation says nothing about the next life at all. It says nothing about the judgment of God or the fact that we are sinners who are going to someday go to either Heaven or Hell”. I think she nailed it. This “New” Gospel (actually a reformulation of older “Social Gospels”) is focused on what God can do to help us heal our world today. It says nothing about our individual need for forgiveness and our need for a Savior; it also fails to describe our destiny as eternal beings headed for a life beyond the grave. It assumes we are here to make this world better, and all we need is a little help from our friend, Jesus.
As a Christian, I do understand my role and responsibility to steward the planet. I take that responsibility seriously. I am concerned about the condition of our world and more importantly, the people who live here. I know, however, it’s the supernatural transformation of individual lives (as a result of hearing the Gospel and being filled with the Holy Spirit) that eventually changes the nature of each culture and (ultimately) the condition of our planet. The Biblical claims related to salvation are people-focused claims; individuals are the focus of God’s redemptive work. Our broken relationship is not with our environment or with one another; it’s with our Creator. As we address the real dilemma, all the other ancillary problems will resolve themselves as we come to understand and embrace the purposes of God.
In an effort to provide a more accurate (and orthodox) visual presentation of the Gospel, I wrote and created the following video, The Best Story. I discovered the difficulty in trying to accurately communicate the true nature of the Gospel to a culture more interested in saving the planet than addressing their own sin and need for a Savior. It’s not an easy task given the time constraints and the desire to develop a diagram similar to Choung’s effort (I’ll give him credit, at least, for the brevity and simplicity of his diagram), but this slightly longer presentation (and slightly more complex illustration) hopefully communicates the Gospel in a more orthodox manner:
I love the challenge of trying to communicate complex ideas visually. We owe it to our increasingly visual culture to find new media-centered ways to communicate and protect the truth of the Gospel. The challenge is great, but the reward is even greater. I hope this video helps you communicate the truth to others.
For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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