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Home Church Planting/Missional Making sense of people's story - missional communicating course

Making sense of people's story - missional communicating course

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Making sense of peoples







A simple way of learning how to do it 

for your whole church...



Course Outline


1. Rational


2. Implementation


3. Resources


3.1Suggested Outline of Making Sense of My Story – Thomo

3.2“The Gospel Story: the Story of Community”- Tim Chester

3.3Quote from “Contextualization of the Gospel” – Jeff Vanderstelt

3.4Enter and re-tell the culture's stories with the gospel – Tim Keller

3.5Quote from “Worldview Evangelism” – D A Carson

3.6Example: Making sense of my mates story with the gospel- Thomo & Tim Keller

3.6 Suggested links – Text


4. Conclusion

5.Suggested Reading


Course - Content

1. Rational


Recently following a sermon questions where called for concerning it. During this the suggestion was made by our Pastor David calderwood that people need to be equipped to share the good news, because 9 times out of ten they are left unprepared and embarrassed at not knowing what to say.


This proposal seeks to fill that cap by equipping those at your Church on how to develop real loving relationships with people which lead to them being able to make sense of their stories with the story of the Bible and so begin to lead them to become disciples of Christ and join your Christian community. 


While there are many excellent course for Churches to implement to train their

members in sharing the gospel with non-Christians each can come across as less than authentic and in some cases appear canned.


For example, a course like "Two ways to live" is excellent in terms of biblical content. What it fails to do is contextualize the gospel in two simple ways.


Firstly, it fails in following the metanarrative or plot line of the Bible. It rightly includes many aspects of the gospel but fails to include the truth that God will restore what was lost in Adam in a new material creation.1. Tim Keller -Preaching the Gospel


Secondly, it fails to allow the gospel to connect with peoples personal stories therefore, contextualize the gospel so their individual stories make sense and they get the answers to the questions they have.


In the following resources quoted from the writings of Tim Keller, D A Carson and Jeff Vanderselt skillful demonstrate how God’s story as told in the message of the Bible can address the felt needs and basic questions the humans have about their lives and the world in general.


It is envisaged that a four part discipleship course be developed around the Bibles story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. Included in the course would be the following; 1/ How to make loving friendships with people. (Thomo is available to take this session) 2/ How to listen to peoples stories, identify their felt needs and questions. 3/ A outline of the four main themes of the Bibles story 4/ How to tweet the Bibles Story to their story.( thus making sense of their story)5/How to call for a response through repentance, faith and prayer.


The benefits of the above are that we can develop a way of presenting the gospel in the context of a personal relationships. Also because each persons story is different, i.e., some will have fears, been through suffering, have doubts. The gospel can be tailor made and therefore personalize thus avoiding a one-size fits all approach. Also it would be our very own gospel story developed in house using biblical theology as the foundation.


2. Implementation


  1. Teach the course to those interested in learning over 4 weeks
  2. The above would include sections 1-5 as outlined above.
  3. Role plays would be included and time for questions
  4. A course guide with notes and questions would be used.
  5. Sections of this would be videoed for future training courses
  6. People would be encouraged to practice among themselves then
  7. begin slowly with their friends
  8. Give a number of months for folk without friends time to begin to make some, It’s important that these people not be made to feel guilty, but be helped)
  9. The Church then host a Making sense of my story course for non-Christian friends, neighbours, family members, and the public. You present your material of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. Thus non-Christians listen to the Bible story but are also shown how their various felt needs, i.e. fear, anxiety, and idolatry are made sense of only through the Bibles story; the gospel.
  10. This would be held over four consecutive Sunday evenings being preceded by a meal together followed by discussion groups and coffee. A two-hour period is envisaged.
  11. These four nights would be videoed so those at could use the talks as a conversation starter for those who want to do the Making sense of my story course.
  12. A simple study guide would be produced for guests



3. Resources recommended


3.1 Suggested Outline of Making sense of my story with God’s Story (Bible)





  1. As image bearer and rational creature every person desires to know – Who am I? What’s wrong with me and this world, how can I change and what’s my future?
  2. The Bible answers these basic questions in the form of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. Only the gospel makes sense of my life and transforms me into the person God made me to be. A person who worships Him and so glorifies Him.



1. Making sense of who I am (Creation)


  • I’m not an accident


  • I am made in the image of God


  • I am made to know God and bring Him glory


  • God made this world and me perfectly


2. Making sense of what’s wrong with me and the world (Fall)



  • I and all man kind have been made to worship God


  • Through Adam we rebelled against God by worshipping idols


  • The result is alienation and disorientation from God


  • Suffering guilt and death are the three consequences of this rebellion


  • Other things follow, fear, shame, loneliness, ignorance, cruelty, immorality etc


3. Making sense of How I Can Be RightWith God(Redemption)


·God has a plan to make things right


·It involves His Son – the promised crusher / saviour


·He identifies with us as man and God


·Through His life, death, burial and resurrection he changes everything


·He brings us into new relationship through His death – He gives us new life through His resurrection –


·We are made right and new – adopted as His children – being renewed to be like Jesus


4. Making sense of how I Can Change and have a future (Restoration/Regeneration)


  • Fall is reversed - worship is restored – God is glorified


  • But forthose who ignore God’s Saviour –Death, Judgment and Hell


  • For those who accept God’s provision – Forgiveness, new life and heaven


  • The Christian has the down payment of this inheritance – the Spirit


  • Death, disease and suffering will be overcome – all things are restored to


perfection as they where in the Garden


  • God restores everything in a new heaven and a new earth


3.2The Gospel Story: the Story of Community - Tim Chester

There is a summary of the gospel message which runs like this: ‘God made you to know him, but your sin cuts you off from God. God sent his Son to die in your place and reconcile you to God. Now you can know God and look forward to being with him after death.’ It is the story of an individual out of relationship with God brought back into relationship with God. This version of the story is true. But it is not the whole truth. At the heart of the Bible story is the story of a community. The foundation of missional church is an understanding of the Bible story. The Bible is the story of God saving not individuals, but a people, a community, a new humanity. The Christian community is not an add-on. It is integral to the gospel.

Creation We are made in the image of the communal God as relational beings to live in community. (Genesis 1:26-27 )

Fall Our rebellion creates conflict both between us and God and between one another.

Abraham The promise to Abraham is ‘the gospel announced in advance’ (Galatians 3:8 ), setting the agenda for the while Bible story and at its heart is God’s promise of a people (Genesis 12:1-3 ).

Exodus Because of his promise to Abraham, God sets his people free to know him. Through Moses he says: ‘I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God’ (Exodus 6:7 ). God lives among his people (the pillars of cloud and fire and the tabernacle), but the people keep their distance and offers sacrifices because of their sin and God’s holiness.

Israel ‘The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy’ (1 Kings 4:20 ; see Genesis 22:17 ; 32:12). But the people turn from God and the nation divides.

Prophecy God promises a new people: ‘I will be their God, and they will be my people’ (Jeremiah 31:31 ). He promises a faithful remnant (Zechariah 13:7-9 ).

Jesus Jesus is God with us (Matthew 1:23 ; John 1:18 ; Colossians 2:9-10 ). But he is also the faithful people of God, the true vine who bears fruit for God (Isaiah 5:1-7 ; John 15:1 ).

The church In Christ we are God’s faithful people and the true children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7 , 27). The cross reconciles us to God (Mark 15:38 ) and to one another (Ephesians 2:11-3:13 ). Christ did not die for ad hoc individuals, but for his people, his bride (Ephesians 5:25-27 ).

New creation ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God …’ (Revelation 21:1-4 )

The individualistic version of the gospel makes the church a useful help to individual Christians, but not an identity. But community is central to the Bible story. People are invited to not simply to an individual relationship with God (though that is one implication), but to become part of the new people of God, the bride of Christ. You become a Christian when by faith you become part of the people for whom Christ died.

3.3Quote from Contextualization of the Gospel - Jeff Vanderstelt

May 31, 2007




Content: God’s Story – connect the text or topic within the overarching story.


Ed Clowney points out that if we ever tell a particular Bible story without putting it into the overall main Bible story (about Christ), we actually change the meaning of the particular event for us. It becomes a moralistic exhortation to 'try harder' rather than a call to live by faith in the work of Christ. There is, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: is it basically about me or basically about Jesus? In other words, is it basically about what I must do, or basically about what he has done?


Method: Link God’s Story to the People’s Story – How do the gospel

themes address your culture's hopes, fears, tensions?


(1) Begin with familiar and show how the gospel confirms what is strong and good in

the culture. Know the people's story extremely well. Show your sympathy with it.


(2) But use the gospel to challenge and destabilize common cultural assumptions at points that they are weak or inadequate.


(3) Finally, comfort and galvanize with the promises of the gospel. Show them that they can't finish their own story without God in Christ.


(Taken from Tim Keller’s article on being context sensitive)



3.4Quote from “Enter and re-tell the culture's stories with the gospel” – Tim Keller


• In "Christendom" it is possible to simply exhort Christianized people to "do what they know they should." There is little or no real engagement, listening, or persuasion. It is more a matter of exhortation (and often, heavy reliance on guilt.) In a missional church preaching and communication should always assume the presence of skeptical people, and should engage their stories, not simply talk about "old times."

• To "enter" means to show sympathy toward and deep acquaintance with the literature, music, theater, etc. of the existing culture's hopes, dreams, 'heroic' narratives, fears.

• The older culture's story was--to be a good person, a good father/mother, son/daughter, to live a decent, merciful, good life.

• Now the culture's story is-- a) to be free and self-created and authentic (theme of freedom from oppression), and b) to make the world safe for everyone else to be the same (theme of inclusion of the 'other'; justice).

• To "re-tell" means to show how only in Christ can we have freedom without slavery and

embracing of the 'other' without injustice.


Tim Keller


3.5Quote from Worldview Evangelism – D A Carson



We read again Acts 17 verse 31:


For [God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice

by the man he has appointed.

He has given proof of this to all men

by raising him from the dead.


Here, at last, Jesus is introduced.


I want to emphasize two things.


First, it is extraordinarily important to see that Paul has established the framework of the biblical metanarrative before he introduces Jesus. If metaphysics is a sort of big physics that explains all the other branches of physics, similarly metanarrative is the big story that explains all the other stories. By and large, postmodernists love stories, especially ambiguous or symbol-laden narratives. But they hate the metanarrative, the big story that makes all the little stories coherent. But what Paul provides is the biblical metanarrative. This is the big story in the Bible that frames and explains all the little stories. Without this big story, the accounts of Jesus will not make any sense — and Paul knows it.


For instance, if in a vague, New Age, postmodern context, we affirm something like "God loves you," this short expression may carry a very different set of associations than we who are Christians might think. We already assume that men and women are guilty and that the clearest and deepest expression of God's love is in the cross, where God's own

Son dealt with our sin at the expense of his own life. But if people know nothing of this story line, then the same words,


"God loves you," may be an adequate summary of the stance adopted by Jodie Foster in her recent film, Contact. The alien power is beneficent, wise, good, and interested in our well-being. There is nothing whatever to do with moral accountability, sin, guilt, and how God takes action to remove our sin by the death of his Son. The one vision nestles into

the framework of biblical Christianity; the other nestles comfortably into the worldview of New Age optimism.


In short, without the big story, without the metanarrative, the little story or the little expression becomes either incoherent or positively misleading. Paul understands the point.


3.6Making sense of our mates stories with the Gospel - Thomo, Jeff Vanderstelt and Tim Keller




1. How do I share the gospel with a mate that helps them make sense of their life story

without appearing self-righteous?

2. Do I come across as merely religious or can I showcase my faith by love but also

with gospel bits that show the folly of life outside of Christ?

3. Am I afraid to share my struggles with sin but also ready to share my hope of sins

forgiven & new life in God through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection?

Answers : Link God’s Story to their individual Story – show how the gospel themes

address their hopes, fears, tensions?

i.e Separation, death of child, spouse, unemployment, chronic illness, abuse


(1) Begin with familiar and show how the gospel confirms what is strong and good in

the culture. Know their story extremely well. Show your sympathy with it.

(2) But use the gospel to challenge and destabilize common cultural assumptions at

points that they are weak or inadequate.

i.e functional saviours – our idols

Food, material possessions, relationships, acceptance, career, sex, & pleasure.

Note: none of these are wrong per say but when they become functional

saviours i.e idols we worship then they are sinful

(3) Finally, comfort and galvanize with the promises of the gospel. Show them that

they can't finish their own story without God in Christ.


Taken from Contextualization of the Gospel by Jeff Vanderstelt


Connect the gospel to questions people are asking in cultural, the doctrines of creation, sin, grace, and faith must be presented in connection with 'baseline cultural narratives' – Jesus must be the answer to the questions they are asking. Don't forget – every gospel presentation presents Jesus as the answer to some set of human-cultural questions, like 'how can I be forgiven?' (Western moral individualism) 'how can I be free?' (post-modern expressive individualism) gospel presentation has to be culturally incarnated, it must assume some over-riding cultural concern, so we may as well be engaged with the ones that we face! Christianity must be presented as answers to the main questions and aspirations of our culture. -


Tim Keller – Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs Gospel



Summary of Gospel - Tim Keller


Why we are here. The one God is a community – a Trinity of three persons who eachperfectly know and defer to one another and love one another and therefore have infinite joy and glory and peace. God made a good, beautiful world filled with beings who share in this life of joy and peace by knowing, serving, and loving God and one another.


What went wrong. Instead, we chose to center our lives on ourselves and on the pursuit of things rather than on God and others. This has led to the disintegration of creation and the loss of peace – within ourselves, between ourselves, and in nature itself. War, hunger, poverty, injustice, racism, bitterness, meaninglessness, despair,sickness, and death all are symptoms.


What puts the world right. But though God lost us he determined to win us back. He entered history in the person of Jesus in order to deal with all the causes and results of our broken relationship with him. By his sacrificial life and death he both exemplifies the life we must live and rescues us from the life we have lived. By his resurrection he proved who he was and showed us the future — new bodies and a completely renewed and restored new heavens and new earth in which the world is restored to full joy, justice, peace, and glory.


How we can be part of putting the world right. Between his first coming to win us and his last coming to restore us we live by faith in him. When we believe and rely on Jesus' work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, his healing kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. Christ gives us a radically new identity, freeing us from both self-righteousness and self-condemnation.

This liberates us to accept people we once excluded, and to break the bondage of things (even good things) that once drove us. He puts us into a new community of people which gives a partial, but real, foretaste of the healing of the world that God will accomplish when Jesus returns -


Tim Keller – Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs




It would be good as we explore how to be more intentional in discipleship at _________

Begin training people on developing relationships with a view to seeing them become disciples of Jesus Christ. The above approach as outlined by the above practitioners is challenging. The dividends of investing time and effort in training ourselves will mean that we learn how to gossip the gospel, To be "Ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us." And also it will give us confidence to be ambassadors' for Jesus Christ as we seek to proclaim the gospel and so obey Christ and "make disciples." May they respond to our unconditional love, our prayers and proclamation and come into the ____________community and serve Christ as disciples.



Suggested links


Worldview Evangelism - D A Carson


The Centrality of the Gospel - Tim Keller


Contextualization of the Gospel - Jeff Vanderstelt


 Biblical Missiology - Jeff Vandersalt  


Suggested Reading


  1. Introduction to the Bible – Moore College – Correspondence Course
  2. According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy
  3. Counterfeit Gods - Tim Keller
  4. The Reason for God – Tim Keller



Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 09:27  

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