This week I’ll be speaking with teens at a Christian summer camp in western Massachusetts. It’s something I’ve done before, and I’ve really enjoyed it. During my last visit, the Lord moved pretty powerfully and impacted many kids and staff with physical and emotional healing, so I’m excited about this next week.
Doing these sorts of gigs (Can I call it that?) always presents me with a challenge, however. It’s a good challenge, to be sure, but a challenge nonetheless.
See, when I speak, especially to teens or younger, I like to tell stories. Stories captivate us, they make us participants, and they engage us to think about ourselves in ways that fell both safe and uninhibited. Often, I’m compelled to tell the Jesus story.
So the question that plagues me as I prepare for this week is this: How do you tell The Story?
I’ve long been frustrated with the older evangelical way of telling our story, that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins and provide a way to heaven. It’s true, to an extent. But to me, it leaves too big a chunk left unsaid and fixes on an aspect that probably shouldn’t be front and center: me. It leaves me wondering: Well, that’s nice, but what about the rest of the world? What about everyone else? Do I do anything now as a result? And really, did Jesus die two thousand years ago just for me? Isn’t God a whole lot bigger than that? And why doesn’t the Bible actually tell stories about me? It can’t be all about me, can it?
Each time I embark on some project like this, I’m revisited with the dilemma afresh. How can I tell The Story in a way that is true to the history of the Creator intersecting His creation and still pertains to this 21st century world? How do I tell the story that simultaneously demonstrates the personal, individual impact of the gospel (surely it’s there) and still highlight the grand scope of God’s project?
I’m open to ideas, whether revolutionary or time-tested. I’ve been struck by N.T. Wright’s Five Acts, for example, though I won’t be using it this week. As I go through the week, I’ll be outlining my approach (at least, this version of my approach).
But I’m curious: How do you tell The Story?