M.T. wrote in recently with an issue she’s faced when trying to share GoodSeed materials with others. We answer below.
The Quandary: “I have given the books to many Christians to read, and for whatever reason, they don’t want to even try reading them.” — M.T.
Our Advice: Hi M.T. — Though we don’t know the circumstances surrounding your quandary, here’s some general advice we can share.
It helps to be hungry. Often if people don’t see a need to grow their knowledge in a certain area, they won’t put in the necessary effort (such as reading a book). While we do hear of those who will accept a big book, sit down and read right through it, often it helps if the person first has a hunger to know what they’re about to read.
Sometimes you have to create the hunger. Share how learning about the Bible this way impacted you and why you think it’s important. Another idea is to give them the very small booklet, No Ordinary Book, first. This 48-page booklet was written for those who aren’t sure it’s worth their while to know the Bible’s message, but presses the point that the Bible is unique in many ways and worth studying. It’s meant to “whet the appetite.” It’s also a much less expensive book to test the waters to see if your friend will actually read a more in-depth book about the Bible.
Ensure you are sharing the RIGHT material. Some people just aren’t big readers. Perhaps No Ordinary Story series might be better, since it’s split up into small, bite-sized booklets. Or share a video series that they can listen to for free here. Or perhaps they’d be willing to listen to a gospel drama and musical while they’re driving–No Ordinary Story Radio Theatre is ideal for this. Also, consider their worldview. If they are coming from a different background than you, you may want to consider the lens through which they see the world and offer something that addresses their specific worldview.
Start a Bible study or book club. People often have the best of intentions of reading that book “some day,” but never seem to get around to it. This is where it’s helpful to arrange a time to meet to read through the book together. Many people will happily join a book study, but won’t make time on their own to read. You don’t have to be a great leader, teacher or even very knowledgeable about the Bible. Instead, consider yourself a facilitator who will provide the discipline and accountability to journey with your friend through the message. This is the most effective way to ensure someone learns the material.
When Cheryl began a study with three women, she dismissed the notion of just sitting down and reading By This Name together. To her it seemed so basic and uninteresting. Surely a lecture format with some good discussion thrown in would be a more compelling method for teaching the same material.
Cheryl was not alone in her thinking. GoodSeed staff are often asked:
“Why do you just read the book together? Isn’t that boring? A turn-off to well-educated students? What about breaking things up with times of discussion? Why not just give it to them to read on their own?”
Question: Can you tell me how The Story that Matters was written? It seems like such a short booklet. Can it explain the gospel clearly?
Answer: Here’s some background to the booklet that may help you understand its architecture and purpose. The Story that Matters was created with at least three important considerations.
First, the concise nature of the booklet enables it to be used for mass distribution or as a give-away on a personal basis—this for less than the cost of a greeting card.
Secondly, the booklet was designed to be read in under an hour. We did this to appeal to those who may not like reading but will read a small booklet. To achieve a quick reading time, we had to balance an accurate and sufficient gospel presentation with a succinct word count. If you have read one of our bigger books like By This Name, you will see that we do have resources that explain the gospel message in much fuller detail. ForThe Story that Matters, we were conscious of every word. So we distilled the good news, doing our best to ensure that the key concepts were explained without adding bulk to such a small booklet.
What can I give to a 70-year-old man in the hospital with heart problems? He’s very religious and believes he is a “good man.” Do you have any audio or DVDs? I am not sure he will read. He is so not open to the gospel, because he believes he does not need it. Thanks so much for any help.
We explained to Vicky that we were in the midst of producing an audiobook edition of By This Name. In the meantime, given the elderly man’s condition, we recommended the following ideas:
Our resources have been creatively used in a wide variety of settings ranging from self-studies to camps and small small groups. Here is one lady’s email to us with a question regarding the use of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus in Sunday school.
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:
Question: I have a youth group that meets weekly. Can I use By This Name to teach over the course of a year?
Answer: By This Name works very well with youths and young adults. It addresses many questions that they may have arising from New Age thinking, postmodernism and secularism.
In our teaching experience, and based on feedback from others who have taught it, we believe that By This Name works best when it is taught in as short a time as possible. This doesn’t mean you rush through the book but we would not encourage you to extend the study over a long period. This is because the gospel message is, in reality, a story—God’s Story. When it becomes stretched out—say over a year—the Story of God becomes a series of disjointed narratives.
In the seventh video question from The Oaks Christian School, Cameron asks John Cross which is his favourite book of the Bible. John shares that the Gospel of John is his favourite (among many!) because the Apostle John wrote his gospel so that people may come to believe that Jesus is the Saviour.
The Apostle John wrote:
…but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 ESV)