The Interplay Between "Story" and the Gospel
I received an oversized postcard in the mail last week advertising a "film festival" that a church scheduled for the month of September in lieu of it's usual line up of worship services. Neither the card nor the website it referred to specified which films the church planned to show. Evidently, just the mention of films (instead of "preaching") is supposed to attract new people and draw a crowd.
As popular as it has become, storytelling alone does not guarantee that someone will truly connect with others on a spiritual level. Take, for example, the parables Jesus taught, which are often used as justification for storytelling in preaching and teaching. Never forget that one of Jesus' stated purposes for using parables was to cloud the understanding of some people.
Jesus also explained that he intended for the parables to make known the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens to his followers. In other words, his "stories" were a means to a specific end, not an end in and of themselves, and certainly not merely for the purpose of drawing a crowd.
The Gospel Story-arc approach rises from similar intentionality. We are not joining the fad of storytelling. Our intention is to make Jesus better known, and to fan the flames of appreciative love for him. We believe that this requires turning away from gospel messaging that values message efficiency over message expansion. We seek to tell more of who Jesus is to make clear his worthiness of our faith as Savior and Lord. We use the story-arc of the Bible to do this for two very powerful reasons. One, it is the form that God used to communicate to us who Jesus is. And two, it is the form of communication shown by science to be the shortest path to the human heart.
So the Gospel Story-arc approach is NOT just about telling stories (or showing movies). It is a method for effectively proclaiming expanded content about who Jesus is, and about what he has done (along with what he will do in the future), expanded content also in relation to who we are, creatures made in God's image, but fallen and living in brokenness, and in need of redemption and restoration—all of this in pursuit of heart-deep responses of faith in Jesus, and whole-hearted love toward him.