Gospel Story-arc™ Project Philosophy
My wife and I started the Gospel Story-arc™ Project several years ago, though much of the messaging and philosophy now associated with it took root in our hearts very early in our ministry.
As often as I’ve taught the things I list below as part of Gospel Story-arc™ Project philosophy, forming them into a list is new. And it wasn’t an easy task, mostly because of my tendency to “over craft” the wording.
All of the claims made in these statements are anchored in Scripture and the neuroscience of story. If any of the statements aren’t clear, it’s my fault. I only ask that you check back frequently and keep reading Gospel Story-arc™ Project blog posts, as I improve the clarity of what we’re doing leveraging the science of story to tell the world who Jesus is…
Meanwhile, here are the statements that describe our philosophy:
Human spirituality operates in the material world through our relationships with God, with others, with self, and creation. Therefore, human spirituality refers to more than an awareness of God and immaterial things.
Human spirituality is marred due to the sin, brokenness, and death experienced in all four categories of relationships.
Salvation through faith in Jesus is more than relief from the penalty of sin; it also includes participation in the restoration of our relationships with God, with others, with self, and creation.
Unbelievers become believers in Jesus through a chain of communication events, a chain that begins with Christians “sent” to “announce the good news,” leading to unbelievers “hearing” about Jesus, leading then to their “believing in him,” leading to their “calling on him to be saved.”
The good news about Jesus is the larger story told in the Scriptures about him; therefore, gospel messaging extends beyond the creedal statements in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “…that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third say, according to the Scriptures.”
The primary call to action of gospel presentations in the NT is ontological; that is, asking unbelievers to believe in Jesus for who he is.
Love for Jesus naturally accompanies heart-deep faith in him and who he is.
The more one knows and appreciates the larger story of Scripture, the greater one’s love for Jesus as a person and for the forgiveness that comes through him.
Gospel messaging that prioritizes believing “that Jesus died for you” without explaining the larger story about him diminishes his place in the world and dangerously limits responses of love for him to those based solely on his having met felt needs.
Evangelism is part of disciple making, not something separate from it; therefore, we evangelize with the awareness and intent that we have begun to make a disciple.
Evangelism that prioritizes need-love responses to Jesus over appreciative-love motivated by the larger story about him is an Achilles heel for disciple making.
The brokenness of unbelievers in relation to others, self, and creation may be more salient to them than brokenness in relation to God.
Gospel messaging includes hope and help for gaining victory over pain and suffering and death, and any other manifestation of evil, as we navigate through life in this cursed realm.
Unbelievers can be just as attracted to Jesus initially because of his impact on life here and now vs. the prospect of going to heaven someday.
God designed human beings to process information of any kind using story elements.
Using story elements to communicate is the most effective way to secure attention, persuade, and guarantee shared meaning and retention, relative to content of any kind.
The safest and most effective way to communicate gospel content is through story or the use of story elements.
Gospel messaging communicated through story provides context and relevance for all claims we make about Jesus, God, religion, sin, heaven, etc., thereby substantially increasing its power to inform and influence.
The use of story remains an effective way to engage unbelievers in conversations about human spirituality and the gospel.
The use of story is an effective way to make unbelievers aware of the holes in their hearts in the brokenness of their relationships with God, with others, with self, and creation.
To learn more about how these matters affect current issues in world evangelism, see “Barna’s ‘Reviving Evangelism,’ Part 1,” posted on April 9, 2019.