How the world receives and interacts with information is changing at a dizzying pace. From YouTube to Facebook, we are relating to each other in ways that are unique in the history of the world. In previous generations since the time of Gutenberg and his press first arrived, the focus has been on using literate means to communicate the gospel. But now we find our world moving increasingly toward using oral means to communicate. It is not that most cannot read but that there is an increasing preference for non-literate means of communicating. As the world changes in the way it prefers to use and process information, we must also change the way we communicate the gospel.
Unleashing the Gospel Through Storytelling
In this post-Gutenberg era stories and storytelling have taken center stage once again. Considering the fact that 75% of the Bible's literary form is story, followers of Christ everywhere should pay attention. Stories are not just for children and the illiterate. They speak to us all. They are a powerful tool that should be wielded as we seek to unleash the blessing of the gospel upon all nations.
This Month's Articles
Storytelling has become a lost art for many Christian workers in relation to evangelism. A number of hollow myths exist that encourage this preference against using storytelling in evangelism: 1) stories are for children; 2) stories are for entertainment; 3) adults prefer sophisticated, objective, propositional thinking; 4) character derives from dogmas, creeds and theology; 5 storytelling is a wast of time in that it fails to get to the more meaty issues. But I have seven reasons why storytelling should become a skill practiced by all who communicate the gospel.
Academicians are now labeling the time span from the fifteenth to the twentieth century the Gutenberg Parenthesis as a period when the left side of the brain took over and gave birth to sciences, inventions, and philosophies, but in so doing relieved the right-side brain of its active engagement in creativity.2 Today, more than a decade into the twenty-first century, captured images, reality entertainment, social media, and online video gaming actually closely resemble the pre-Gutenberg era, when the right side of the brain was much more in unison with the left side.
In the Developing World, many oral learners are not able to read or may read at only very low levels. In the past, church planters coming primarily from the industrialized West and trained primarily through institutions of higher learning assumed that everyone in the world wanted to learn to read and write. However, this assumption has not turned out to be true. Not everyone has the desire to read and write. In this article I will outline why the early stages of a Church-Planting Movement is not the ideal time for church run literacy programs.
As the world grows more media-saturated and sophisticated, young people and adults are becoming more visually oriented. The heart language of a growing number of people worldwide is visual story. Every day, four out of five people on this planet are molded by visual story. One of the greatest gaps in the global outreach of the Church is the lack of culturally-relevant visual media. Through film, television, computers, and mobile devices, stories are being told on large and small screens. This deluge of stories is captivating the hearts of men, women, youth, and children, and raises the question: who will shape the stories that shape the hearts of people around the world? The destiny of a generation depends on the answer.
Jasmine and Shanti are highly educated IT professionals, fluent in English, who loved Jesus and wanted to serve him, but they didn't know how to do so effectively. They decided they needed help, so I facilitated a one-day training in how to tell their stories and how to use the story of the demon-possessed man (see Mark 5:1-20) as an initial hook to sharing the gospel. They soon realized that sharing stories could be an effective evangelism strategy and began coming regularly to our house for a weekly “satsang,” or “meeting of truth,” where we worship in a culturally-appropriate way and, of course, tell stories. What follows is their two different but significant journeys into using stories to communicate to people the truths about their Savior and God.
“By the end of the month, you’ll be able to do something most pastors can’t do!” The auntie smiled at her club of forty orphans meeting outside a home in the foothills of the Himalayas. They were meeting three times a week for what the children called their “Jesus Fun Club". “You’ll be able to tell the whole big, exciting, amazing story of the Bible!” This woman—and dozens of Christian workers like her—spent the month of December 2011 in India, showing children that the Bible is not a book of unrelated stories. Instead, it’s one beautiful story of a Heavenly Father’s love.
As a Bible storying trainer, I approach the subject of mistakes carefully. For missionaries, mistakes can lead to broken relationships, misunderstanding, and error in teaching. Failure for Bible storyers often results from falling into various traps that the missionary and non-missionary worker will want to avoid if at all possible. What follows are some of the lessons I and others have learned over the years.
In the previous issue, I discussed the concept of finding God-prepared people. Because they are so out of the norm from what we normally encounter, I sometimes call them abnormal people. The differences I see in ministries that experience multiplication often and those that do not is how the evangelist disciples the abnormal person in the first few minutes or hours. Those that adapt their follow-up discipleship to expect abnormal results in the first few hours rather than waiting days or weeks often experience kernels of kingdom explosion.
In this interview from Bill Taylor about WEA's recent title, Sorrow and Blood, he writes, "Today I Googled 'persecution of Christians' and got 18,200,000 hits; 'religious liberty' and got 29,400,000 hits. These are 'in-topics' and realities on the ground and around the world. Even as I write this line, we pray intensely for our sisters and brothers in Egypt, Syria, Nigeria and Iran. 'How long, oh Lord?'" Sorrow and Blood takes us beyond these stats and into the harsh realities facing those in contexts of suffering, persecution and martyrdom. Read on to find out more from Taylor about this celebrated "resource anthology".
Over the years I have written and spoken quite a lot about discovering and using local resources for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. My heart’s desire is to see the church around the world become deeply rooted in the society of which it is a part and then draw resources from that society for both its own existence and for outreach. Why is this so important? When I began thinking about this, two different pictures of the Church and how it spreads came to mind.
Research often stays on dusty bookshelves, rarely entering the minds and hearts of the masses. Joshua Project was started in 1995 to help the mission’s community know which ethnic people groups...Read The Full Article
Better understanding ourselves is a crucial step in understanding, explaining and living out the gospel to those from other cultures. We learn more about ourselves and God by living and working with people from different backgrounds. One of the things we learn, is that different ethnic groups, countries and generations tend to emphasize distinct issues or problems.