Each of the stories that come through GoodSeed is unique and we enjoy sharing them with our blog readers. This past year was no exception. We thought it would be fun to look back at some of the highlights—those posts which were most popular and widely read. So, with no further ado, here are twelve of the favourite blog posts from 2015:
GoodSeed resources were designed to be versatile in use. Over the years, we have received stories from around the world of how people use our books, curricula and other tools for evangelism. We have also received stories on how our tools are used to disciple believers, helping them build strong foundations for their faith and also training them to be able to share the good news with others.
As we glean the best of what others have done and what our staff have tried, we’ve put together the best experiences and notes into a series of “How To” articles.
Louise* had been a believer for many years. She had come to faith in Christ while still a student at a Christian school but for many years, her understanding of Scripture was shallow. Now in her sixties, she recently signed up for a small group. One of the first things she was asked to share was her personal testimony. She had never done anything like that before and was nervous about revealing her own life story.
As she sat among the small group members, the leader decided to help by gently quizzing her. Louise was asked, “When did you have a personal encounter with Jesus?”
Louise was confused. “Well, I went to a Christian school,” she started to say.
The small group leader said, “But that doesn’t make you a Christian.”
What does it take to make a GoodSeed translation available?
Rusty’s* desk is crowded. Stacks of paper, books, a MacBook with a blue sticker supporting local businesses and a coil of cables are being arranged to go into a sturdy backpack in preparation for a work trip. This upcoming trip will see Rusty pass through the UK, Germany, Italy and a few other places too risky to mention. Behind him, a map of the world is tacked to the wall not simply as office decoration, but as a way to visualize the remote locations where his contacts are located. Another wall bears a whiteboard covered in a long list of languages. Written neatly in a sloping hand, the list reflects the current translation projects GoodSeed has in progress. Many of the languages come from areas on the globe where the good news of the Bible is not readily available.
In our Worldview Rethink curriculum, we carefully lay the foundations of the gospel story in order for a person to have a clear understanding of the good news of Jesus Christ. We take time to cover the four irreducible minimums of the gospel:
A holy God
A helpless sinner
A sufficient substitute
A personal faith
It’s important to start with the character of God—who he is and what he is like. Then, it’s equally important to talk about humankind’s sin condition—how our sin separates us from God.
Exchanging names is the starting point of any meaningful relationship.
Like a company trademark, one’s personal name carries the goodwill and reputation vested in it over the course of a lifetime. When we hear or read a person’s name, we immediately consult countless thousands of information files tucked away in the recesses of our brain. This phenomenon happens subconsciously, almost instantaneously. Upon locating a match, the metaphoric file opens, revealing all we know about that person.
If you are like me, it seems our retrieval capabilities slow down the older we get. We don’t recall names quite so fast as we once did. But those names with whom we have the most experience and first-hand knowledge, those belonging to our loved ones and closest friends, are usually the last names to fade from conscious memory.
Sometimes when a name is mentioned, our minds come up empty. This happens when we have no background knowledge or history with which to associate a name. We essentially draw a blank.
Sasha* had been struggling for quite some time with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. He sought help from, Alex,* a counsellor. As they talked, it didn’t take long for Alex to realize that, although Sasha said that he believed in Jesus for salvation, he was lacking a solid biblical foundation with which to navigate through his trials.
Alex prayerfully began guiding Sasha through The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus because he thought it would be helpful for Sasha to have a better understanding of the Bible’s message from creation to the cross.
Everything was going well until one day, near the end of the study, on page 274 of Chapter 15, Sasha read these words aloud:
Matt’s* living room was full of people. A mixed group of about a dozen international students plus other men and women from the small college town had been there every Thursday night for the past six weeks. Some had literally never read the Bible before. Others only knew bits and pieces. They had all learned a lot as Matt guided them through the Bible from creation to the cross in a course called Worldview Rethink.
Now, as the course was nearing its end, Matt desperately wanted each person to trust in Jesus Christ—to believe the gospel and be saved! At the same time he knew it had to be God’s work, not his own efforts to coerce or convince people. (Revelation 7:10)
Here are five ways Matt let God work in the minds and hearts of those in his group.
Remember when you first believed in Christ? Like a new parent showing off baby pictures, you would tell anyone who would listen about the gospel—you couldn’t help it! Being an ambassador of Christ was exciting and natural.
But after a while, we sometimes find that our joy, as believers, begins to wane, as well as our zeal for sharing the good news with others. Why does that happen? Is there a way back to where we began?
The world over, people are coming to a simple but profound new understanding and appreciation of the Bible’s message. A clearly understood gospel is a powerful gospel—it saves! But it also saves us from a life of joyless toil and ineffectiveness.
Editor’s note: When one of our staff spent time playing video games with his grandson, he gleaned an insight into the challenges that face us when we try to explain the gospel message to someone who is biblically illiterate.
My wife and I were visiting our grandchildren for the first time since they acquired a state-of-the-art video game console—a gift from a generous neighbour. The youngest, 7-year old Thomas*, was beside himself with excitement. He could hardly wait to show me his prowess.
I was no sooner in the house when Thomas plopped a strange-looking object into my hand. The clear plastic, kidney-shaped device immediately reminded me of the cockpit of a commercial jetliner. Buttons, toggles, switches, levers, dials and diodes of every size and colour poked out at odd angles and from all sides. I asked Thomas, “What is it?”
The look on his face betrayed utter surprise that someone as old and wise as Grandpa could be so uneducated. “It’s an Xbox 360 controller, Grandpa!”
Well of course! I guess I should have known that. But the truth was, I didn’t know. “You’ll have to show me, Thomas,” I ventured, for I knew full well this was the response he was hoping for.
Thomas led the way downstairs where he plugged the controller into another mysterious piece of equipment, turned on the TV and began pressing and poking buttons with the dexterity of my great aunt’s knitting needles.
A snazzy red race car appeared on the monitor, sound effects and all. In response to Thomas’s nimble fingers, the powerful car navigated the speedway with amazing precision and realism. Thomas’s body twisted and jerked in concert with each bend and turn of the racetrack. It was obvious my grandson was on familiar ground, in his element; I was definitely out of mine.
Later, when it was my turn to operate the controller, disbelief and frustration were evident in my grandson’s face as he watched me struggle to extract my race car from high in the grandstand.
Reflecting on the experience later, it occurred to me there are multitudes of people who are as unfamiliar with the Bible as I was with my grandson’s video game. The pages and events of Scripture are a complete mystery to them. It may seem incredulous to us that a person could be totally ignorant of the Bible but, in reality, more and more people in our society are biblically illiterate. Put a Bible in their hands, and they will feel much like I did trying to operate my grandson’s Xbox 360 controller.
The Scriptures record how a Middle-Eastern man—a very intelligent Ethiopian official—struggled to make sense of the Bible. When he was asked if he understood what he was reading, he replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:31 NIV)
In our eagerness to share the good news of God’s Word, are we doing enough to help our friends and loved ones understand the gospel message? If we hand them any Christian book, or a tract with only brief explanations, wouldn’t it be akin to handing them an XBox 360 controller for the first time without any explanation?
Instead, what if we handed our friend a tool specifically designed for people with no knowledge of the Bible, a tool that will gently, respectfully and objectively explain the Bible’s core message. Wouldn’t that be a better help?
To understand how we’ve carefully written our tools in order to simply and clearly explain the Bible’s message, please visit our Tools Architecture Page.
(*Name changed as per GoodSeed policy.)