Know and tell the gospel

I am interested in how we tell the gospel in a simple and straightforward way. In the middle of all my experiences of the gospel as social action, I will take part in a workshop exploring the gospel as an act of proclamation.

Andrew Walker's 'Telling the Story', explores how,

Walter Brueggemann has recently reminded us...that the noun 'gospel' in the Bible, euengelion, is not merely a rhetorical declaration of glad tidings but a message of great import. This message he says is linked to the Hebrew verb, bissar, 'tell the news'. The gospel, therefore, is not only the eternal message of the Christian faith: it is both the story and its telling. It is only by telling the story that the message becomes gospel.

So how do we proceed?

There are various ways of telling the story and I wonder, of all the models out there, which we should be using? I suppose much of this depends on context and those to whom you are telling the gospel narrative. Denominations have their favourite models. Sometimes it can all become a little political, or at least certain treatments of doctrines: 'the work of Christ' can overemphasize different aspects of the atonement at the expense of other facets of the beautiful gem that is the work of our Lord and Saviour.

I have been considering Chapman's 'Know and Tell the Gospel' and his images that accompany the narrative. You can have a look at this here.

I rather like this from Andrew Walker. It does not reduce itself into a series of straightforward diagrams like Chapman's. However, I like the focus on the cosmos in Walker's narrative and the emphasis on God's love.

What do you think?
  1. Outside time and space there is God who is good and lives in loving and perfect communion as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
  2. God calls time and space into existence with the creation of the cosmos out of nothing, and like its creator this universe is also very good.
    Creation includes the formation of our world, where human beings are made in the image of God. This gives them the power freely to follow or reject him. 
  3. Humankind, however, wilfully rebels against God. This results in enmity between people and God and the estrangement of all creation from its source - this is so because human beings, as 'matter made articulate', betray all of creation. 
  4. God takes the initiative to end this estrangement, because his nature is love. First he chooses a human tribe, the Jews, and he establishes a special relationship to the whole world, he enters the physical universe through the incarnation of the eternal Son. He is joined to created matter - human nature - in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. 
  5. Jesus achieves God's desire to restore the broken communion between himself and creation through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. 
  6. During his lifetime, Jesus Christ calls disciples as the authentic witness to and co-participators of his work. Through them he institutes a Church, an ecclesia - the people of God. The people of God, in all generations, do not merely follow their founder, but are organically linked to him by divine favour, though not by nature. This is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who is sent by Jesus from his Father after the resurrection. The Holy Spirit constitutes the Church. 
  7. The people of God, under the Spirit's guidance, are the bearers of the good news of God's restoration of the world through Jesus. They are the bearers in the double sense that they are guardians of the apostolic 'deposit of faith', and the tellers of the story. 
  8. The good news will not end like the final chapter of a book, because it is a never-ending story which continues beyond time in everlasting communion with God. But it will reach its fulfilment at the end of time, when Christ will return in glory so that 'God may be all in all'. 
 Have you any other resources to suggest.

Here is a video by Tangle

I am not too sure about the body and soul dichotomy at the beginning, or am I just over-interpreting?


Dave said...

Wow Rachel somewhat complicated isn't it ;-)

So far I have not found it helpful to try express much in the way of sophistication when involved in social action. I get nowhere although with interesting discussions on the way.

I tend to go with either Barth "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so"

Or "I am here because Jesus loves us" - DaveW :-) ie following the apocryphal teaching of St Francis "preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words"

To my mind that means showing people they are loved, valued and can be forgiven by our actions. Then being ready to encourage them to respond.

On the other hand I like your summary and would be happy to have long reflections together on it.

So who is the target audience for the story.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thanks Dave. Yes you highlight the difference. For two weeks I will be involved in showing Jesus' love through practical action - giving food to the homeless, offering a listening ear etc.

On Sunday I will be involved in a workshop style service in which we teach other Christians how to summarise the gospel so that they can more confidently share what they believe with others when they are asked.

My reflections are about the models we use to do that, I probably didn't make that clear. I am wondering if there is an alternative to Chapman's which I think is a bit reductive. I like Andrew Walker's model but there is just too much to say for those one minute opportunities we sometimes get to share the fundamentals of the message with seekers.

The Tangle video similarly is very long but eye-catching. I am not too sure about the soul, body idea at the beginning without mention of the idea that the whole of us is redeemed.

Dave said...


We used the book and 4 weeks of services and small groups from http://www.justwalkacrosstheroom.com/

One of the things it does is encourage everyone to create a 100 word testimony that does not include any Churchy language. The idea is then you have something you are able to say to people who ask.

I think both the personal touch "this is what my faith means for me" and the lack of Churchy language is important. We absolutely have to own what we say, it can't be someone else's thoughts - but the idea of practising it is excellent.

David Ould said...

It's some really useful imagery, Rachel - but it does seem a little like it's avoiding the central dilemma of the Scriptures - God's wrath at our sin.

"estrangement" is not quite the issue - it's not incorrect but it's incomplete.

David Ould said...

wow, just watched the video - love it. No fearful fudging of the issues, there.
Some of the language I'd want to change but it's a great little piece.

On the body/soul dichotomy I think I agree with you - it could be understood as slightly ascetic. But that's because they don't speak about resurrection.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thanks for the feedback David, it is good isn't it, it makes people realise quite carefully what sin is, I think and in a definite and yet easy to relate to way.

The beginning would need a bit of extra explanation perhaps.



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