Friday, September 24, 2010

Reconciliation: The Big Story

James Choung presents the Big Story in a 2 part youtube snippet:

James Choung, author of "True Story - A Christianity worth believing in," shared his insights about presenting a full gospel message in a time when people don't find the gospel to be "good news." His presentation is a wake up call, challenging us (followers of Christ) to consider how we approach evangelism and what the heartbeat the gospel message is.

He opened with a challenging question: "Why doesn't the world perceive the gospel message as good news?" He proposed two possible answers:

  1. We, as Christians, aren't convinced that it is good news and (or),
  2. We believe those that we are sharing it with won't perceive it as good news. 
I would dare to say that it is a mixture of both factors. I would venture to say that a large portion of our church going population are functional agnostics - believing that there is some benevolent good God out there who will sort it all out when we're done. Meanwhile, we simply need to put in our time in church and service and behave Christianly.

James went on to describe how the partial (2-part gospel) we've shared has been part of the Big Story but inadequate in creating selfless Christians on a mission together. Rather it has created selfish Christians with a consumer mindset. The two part gospel emphasizes the two of the four circles on the right hand side of the image above:

  1. We are damaged by evil - we try and get people to admit that they are sinners and in need of Christ and
  2. Restored for Better - we try and get them to pray the sinners prayer in hopes that they will admit that Christ is their Lord and Savior.

    While these statements are true, they lack context and the other two circles are vital in providing a full robust, gospel message. In order to see God as more than someone waiting for us to sin and bash us over the head with a club, we need to present the first circle:

    1. Designed for Good - which shows us a generous God that, from the beginning, desires to have a relationship with us. He has shown us how we are to relate to one another, to Himself and to the world He's given.

    2. Sent together to Heal - indicates the mission of the church and that we are not to simply hold on to our salvation as the Golden ticket to see God but to share his healing power to all those that are broken and hurt.
    The traditional two part gospel message has heavily focused on:
    1. The individual - we need to make a personal choice to follow God.
    2. A Decision - this usually involves a prayer or walking up to the altar.
    3. The Afterlife - Christ paves the way to eternal life with God after we die.

      Again, there are truths here but they are inadequate to transform people who are concerned about their family, their quality of life on Earth, and how they impact this world while here.

      The questions being asked are:
      • Does our faith create selfish Christians?
      • What good is our faith in the world?

        In various generations these questions have surfaced philosophically:
        • The Boomer Generation - asked, "What is true?" They lived to work.
        • Gen X - asked, "What is real?" They detected the salesman and weren't into the fake stuff. It was about being authentic.
        • The Millennial Generation - is asking, "What is good?" They desire to make an impact in the world and change the world. 

          The Big Story (the 4-part) Gospel message, presented above moves the message from being:
          1. Individual ---> Communal
          2. Decision ---> Transformation
          3. Afterlife ---> Missional Life
          James is on to something here. He talks about how the Kingdom of God is here and is also, not yet. There is an in-breaking of God's kingdom that we are missing and that is the power of God's reign here and now. We need to remember that is what the Gospel is:

          "The time has come," he said, "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15).

          As a church planter and a follower of Jesus, I wrestle with the implications of this 4 part Gospel. I can see that our churches have left the central message of Christ and have hung our hats on the wrong issues. With that said, it leaves me asking:

          • What is the gospel message to our generation today?
          • Specifically, what does it mean to Southeast Asians 1st and following generations to live out "Being Restored for Better" and "Sent to Heal Together?"
          What are your thoughts as you process this?

          "True Story: A Christianity worth Believing In" has been a great resource for our church as we explain the gospel to those exploring Christian worldview.


          1. Great post Nate! What is the goodnews for Southeast Asians? idk. But let me take a stab at it. I think two of the goodnews are:

            1)Our God sees the plight of our people (Cambodians, Vietnamese, Laotians, Hmongs and etc..). We as a people have gone through alot: war, famine, and death. The bible talks about that where sin abounds grace abound much much more. The goodness is that our God can help us, heal us and walk us through the process of healing. Healing that includes forgiving ourselves and those who have harmed us.

            2) The other goodnews I can think of is that God has called us into a family. Many Southeast Asians youth/young adult long for a healthy family. They long for a family that is filled with love and dignified responsibilities. Being part of a family does not only make one feel good but it also gives them a place where they can call home.

            These are my two thoughts. I am sure it can be broken down even more. But I am feeling lazy and need to get back into reading my boring systematic organizational book.

          2. Thanks for the post, Ken. It's good to see that God is challenging you on what Good News looks like in our context! Keep listening for His voice in this.