Trust the Messaging
Earlier today I was sitting in a restaurant near Narita Airport in Japan, waiting for others from our 2018 Nippon Initiative Team to join me for breakfast, and reflecting on the last 14 days of intense ministry among Japanese teenagers. We saw six students make professions of faith in Jesus in response to Gospel Story-arc messaging. Earlier this week, I heard a report of six other teens who also made professions of faith in Jesus, again in response to Gospel Story-arc messaging. What a huge blessing to see and hear of these new believers!
I often say that the GSA approach restores the emphasis on who Jesus is, as we present the Gospel. It also leverages the story structure to share this content. Both of these, the emphasis on who Jesus is and the use of story structure, are critical to the success of the Gospel here in Japan, and also in most of Asia, and also increasingly among millennials in the West. One of the lessons that has come out of our ministry through the Nippon Initiative Team this year is this: Trust the messaging of the Gospel as the store about Jesus that it is.
So many of us are used to presenting the Gospel in its most shortened form (for example, the ABC's of Salvation), or with all sorts of theological and soteriological propositions added in. Not that any of the propositions are bad per se, and not that the GSA is a proposition-less way of sharing, but among Asians, and increasingly among millennials everywhere, structuring the Gospel as a theology lesson, rather than starting with the biblical story of who Jesus is, can lead to slower results, and sometimes to students making professions of faith without their actually understanding who Jesus is as the unique and one-and-only Savior whom God promised to send.
Everywhere we turn, we see the importance of students and others believing in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (just as the Apostle John wrote in his Gospel), and not just in the idea of forgiveness. This is a strong statement; I know. But I've lived this contrast for more than 40 years of ministry, and now for the last 13 with a special focus on Japanese and other Asians.
Once again, the bottom line is this: Trust the messaging about Jesus. Tell the story that he is the Christ, the Son of God; expand the message so that what he did on the cross in understood in the context of God's promise to send a Savior, and in the context also of Jesus' exaltation and return.
The Gospel message is inherently powerful, just as Romans 1:16 declares. So trust it to do its work.