Good television and good storytelling involves, among other things, setting up a conflict and working it out to its conclusion. How we tell the gospel story—or more importantly, how the Bible tells the story—builds suspense by illustrating the problem of human rebellion against God, exposing the conflict generated by that problem, and finding resolution. So often in evangelical presentations of the gospel, we cut right to the chase with an invitation (demand?) to seek forgiveness of one’s sin by believing in Jesus Christ. But without a backstory, that invitation can come across as meaningless to the postmodern or very possibly be misunderstood.
This is why New Tribes Mission, connecting with unreached people groups in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Pacific islands, does not present Jesus Christ as its first Bible story. Missionaries spend weeks if not months directing a dramatic presentation of the Old Testament, much as History Channel’s The Bible has done this month, from the very beginning. In a long, fruitful conversation with NTM’s Director of Field Ministries, Don Pederson, this morning, I asked him what the greatest benefits of a narrative/chronological presentation of Scripture are to the biblically illiterate. After decades of practice and research, he offered three primary advantages NTM has observed:
A narrative approach enables a change in worldview based on the character of God. “In the beginning, God created . . .” establishes God’s holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, truth, power, and authority overall creation. Belief in Christ starts here with a shift from, say, animism or pantheism to monotheism.
Narrative establishes an Old Testament framework for understanding otherwise cryptic references in the New Testament, like “the Messiah,” or “atonement,” or even “In the beginning . . .”
After learning the full message starting with Creation, those who confess faith in Jesus Christ give testimonies that demonstrate a better understanding of the gospel, adoption of salvation by faith (not works righteousness), a full grasp of costly grace, and Christian discipleship relying on the power of God.
Read more at http://wordtolife.wordpress.com/