One of the biggest challenges I see in the local church is the inability of our people to retell the gospel story. Yes we know bits and pieces and parts but to sit and tell the whole story of God and what He is narrating to the world proves to be very difficult even to the most veteran of believers. I did an informal research study by asking different people to explain to me in 5 minutes or less the story of the Bible. Of course with each person that I spoke to it took some prompting to even get them to begin. For some reason asking people to recite the biblical story causes confusion, intimidation and a lack of confidence. I found that people don't want "to get it wrong." Its like when I'm around a group of pastors and the question that always comes up is "what is the gospel?" In that setting there is much of the same kind of reactions with clergy as there are with lay people when you ask them about the story of the bible. We need something real. A real story with real people that has real implications for our lives. We need a God who came down and lived a real life among real people who had real problems that needed solutions. I believe with all my heart that we have that story.
A Storied People
Believers should be confident in knowing that we have the greatest story that's ever been told. Human beings love stories. We love great stories as a matter of fact. Its the reason why in the summer we are always looking for the block buster movie of the year. Its the reason we make a big deal about the academy award shows like the Oscars. The incredible thing about a great story is that it has all of the elements that keep us engaged from the beginning to the end. There are plot twists, villains, and heroes. If you are watching a Marvel movie you wait in the theater all the way to the end because no doubt without fail something special is bound to happen after the credits are over.
This is the very reason why I think Sunday school is an important tool of the church. Its the place where we come to learn the story of God. Growing up in church I remember attending Sunday school and when I became an adult I started teaching Sunday school. The cool thing is that its not just for kids. It is a place where we can all be discipled in our faith and confident in knowing the story that God is telling and how we play a part in this great cosmic unfolding drama.
I have been influenced over the past year by the works of Dr. Don Davis of the The Urban Ministry Institute, Robert E. Webber a great theologian who has written several books, as well as some of the great story tellers of our time such as George Lucas, JR Toelkin, C.S. Lewis, and even contemporary storytellers like Tyler Perry, Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rimes and Lee Daniels.
What so cool about these people is that they are great story tellers and know how to keep you glued to the television or movie screen. I think that Christianity has become boring and lifeless in the urban church because we have forgotten how to understand and even tell the story. My call to urban pastors in this season is to equip their people and disciple them in the story telling of the bible. When we can tell the story we can invite others to be a part of it. Shakespeare said, "All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances.."
The Call to the Urban Church
Let's bring back Sunday school in our churches to equip the youth, young adults and seasoned saints in the story. We can use that time in our churches to help people become confident in the faith knowing that there is a God who is unfolding His plan in the earth and we can't stop it. We can take every sermon we preach and show people how it fits into the larger story. We can sing, dance, and worship by retelling the story. Our small groups and bible studies during the week can be an opportunity to testify about how God is working in you as part of the story. The foundation of everything we do can start right there in Sunday school. We can become a part of what He's doing if we understand where we fit in and how we should respond to the story that God is telling. I believe in the end if we do this we can all live happily ever after in the new heaven and the new earth.