The Big Story

This morning, after dropping off our daughter at school, I rushed to get into James Choung‘s seminar at the National Pastors Convention, The Big Story: Sharing the Gospel in an Increasingly Unchurched Culture.  It was a full house and I’m glad, because this is a message churches need to hear.

James details challenged us to think of the Gospel as more than a “get out of hell free” card which, in the vivid words of Dallas Willard, results in “vampire Christians” who only want Jesus for His blood (drew quite a response from those in attendance). Instead, James encouraged us to think of the Gospel Jesus embodied and proclaimed — namely, the Kingdom of God.  To quote James:

The Kingdom of God: Where what God wants to happen actually happens

James describes three significant movements we need to make in our understanding of the Gospel and how we share it with others:

  • Individual > > Communal
  • Decision > > Transformation
  • After-life > > Mission-life

He went on to explain his napkin-sketchable Gospel presentation from his book, True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In — four circles that describe this big picture, Kingdom of God, communal, transformational, missional good news to an irreligious person.  See the three-minute clip for yourself here.  James shared some great stories of how this Big Story is resonating around the world.

On a side note: it would be great to see some more diversity among the presenters at NPC, especially Asian Americans.

The Shack

I really enjoyed the interview with Paul Young, author of The Shack.  He described how he originally wrote the book for his kids — to share about his own long journey of faith. Andy Crouch asked some really insightful questions.  It was also good to hear him urge NPC to give women a stronger voice from the main stage.

Back to the Big Story

In the evening, as was the case last year, people left in droves during the “theology” talk which, really, was to their own detriment.  Christopher Wright, author of The Mission of God, delivered a wonderful, accessible message about the love of God, the cross of Christ and the mission of God’s people.  Like James in the morning, he reminded us that the redemption Christ won through the cross was much, much bigger than individual salvation — Scripture paints a glorious picture of the cross accomplishing God’s mission in incredible ways:

  • to bear guilt
  • to defeat evil
  • to destroy death
  • to remove enmity
  • to heal creation

Therefore, our mission must be cross-centered (telling of the fullness of the redemption Jesus brings through the cross) and also cross-shaped (redemption that comes through suffering and sacrifice).  This quote in particular stuck with me:

We need a holistic mission because the world is a holistic mess.

One Way or Another, I Had to Try and Get In

One final note: I had a chance to hand-write this verse in the Bible Across America — one copy will end up in the Smithsonian!

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