Friday, October 24, 2008

Storying for Urban Dwellers: Evangelism via Film Discussion Groups

[The Christian Post] 24 Oct 2008--n light of the present missions emphasis on Bible storying, some of the same principles are relevant for reaching university students in North Africa. In light of the dynamic nature of technology and culture, film-based discussion groups have become a strategic means of raising spiritual issues with students. This paper explores using neutral stories (films) to effectively bridge toward the gospel story in an urban North African context.

As our group was finishing up, I was pleased by the rich discussion we had had over the significance of the scapegoat (Lev. 16:1-34), Jesus being the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NIV), and the fact that Jesus chose not to verbally defend himself before Pilate (Matt. 27:15; Mark 15:5). Only this was no Bible study group; rather, these were subjects that naturally surfaced during a discussion following Peter Weir’s film “Dead Poet’s Society” (1989) starring Robin Williams. In the current missions movement, a great deal of emphasis and energy is being placed on orality and storying in presenting the gospel. While this important and strategic effort is generally geared toward rural and often illiterate people who have not been formally educated, some of the principles of storying have proved helpful in our outreach to urban university students in North Africa. Instead of recounting Bible stories, we have made use of others’ stories (films) to raise issues from our story (the gospel) toward presenting the gospel through discussion. In this paper, I would like to discuss the strategic nature of this form of evangelism in our context as well as relate some practical aspects of what we are learning.

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