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Large rallies and church meetings aren't the only way to preach the gospel. It can also be done very effectively one-to-one or in small groups.
Simply Christianity is designed for just this sort of ministry. It is a five-part course based on the Gospel of Luke. The goal is to surprise and challenge ordinary non-Christian people (whether 'churched' or 'unchurched') with the unique story of Jesus Christ, as told by Luke. Over the five sessions, guests read right through Luke, tracing its main themes. In rough outline, the five sessions are as follows:
1. Jesus, Now and Then
An introductory session clarifying that Christianity is really about responding to Jesus Christ (rather than being just about ethics or ritual), and that we can find out about Jesus reliably by reading the Gospel record of his life.
2. In the Presence of Greatness (Luke 1-9)
We often think of Jesus as meek and mild, but in Luke 1-9 we see his awesome power and authority to speak on God's behalf, to overcome evil, to heal and forgive and call people to follow him. He is, in other words, the Christ-God's mighty worldwide ruler.
3. Search and Rescue (Luke 10-19)
It turns out that this mighty Messiah has not come to conquer with his power, but to seek out the lost and save them.
4. Jesus' Death (Luke 20-23)
As Jesus "drinks the cup" of God's judgement on the cross, his rescue mission reaches a climax. Through his death, access to God is opened up.
5. Jesus, Here and Now (Luke 24)
This concluding session emphasizes Jesus' resurrection as the Christ, who now rules the world, and calls on people everywhere to repent and seek forgiveness.
This Guest's Manual contains the session outlines and 'Extra Information' for each session, as well as the entire Gospel of Luke for easy reference.
The Simply Christianity Leader's Manual contains an introduction to the course, its rationale and methodology, plus detailed notes and scripts for conducting the course. It also includes the entire Gospel of Luke for easy reference. To evaluate the course, this would be the resource to buy.
Features of Simply Christianity
As can be seen from the above outline, the course stays almost entirely in the Gospel of Luke (apart from filling in some necessary Old Testament background at different points). This not only gives the presentation clarity and integrity, but leaves guests with the feeling that they have read and mastered one whole book of the Bible (something which many non-Christian people find new and exciting).
By letting the gospel unfold from Luke in a very natural and straightforward way, many of the doctrinal and denominational issues that can often cloud discussion of basic gospel issues can be avoided, or at least left to one side. This also means that evangelicals from many different backgrounds and denominations can use the material comfortably.
A further benefit of being based on Luke's Gospel is that the course can make use of the successful Jesus video. Segments of the video can be played to supplement (or even replace) Bible readings. Another obvious advantage is that Simply Christianity can function as a very effective follow-up to an outreach strategy that uses the Jesus video.
Simply Christianity can be done almost anywhere with almost any size group, but experience has shown that it is very effective when done in a small group (of 5-10) meeting in someone's home. The relaxed atmosphere of a home environment combines well with the non-threatening nature of the course itself--guests need say nothing if they wish over the five sessions. There is no requirement for them to answer questions, read Bible verses, pray or anything else. They can talk and ask questions as much as they want, or just sit and listen. It is up to them.
The other benefit of this approach is that relationships form over the five weeks of the course. People get to know each other, open up and tell their own stories and give their own opinions. As the course concludes, guests are often keen to keep studying the Bible, whether they have been converted or not. The Simply Christianity group can then become a home Bible study group that continues to meet.
How does Simply Christianity work?
The first step is to gather people into the course. This can be as simple as inviting a friend to find out what you believe by doing a five-part study with you. Probably the most effective way of starting a Simply Christianity group is to integrate it within an organized evangelistic program. A church might run a series of outreach events over a two or three week period, with the culmination of each event being an invitation for those who want to know more to join a short, informal course outlining the heart of Christianity.
Once the group is formed, each of the five meetings usually takes place in the leader's home, accompanied by food, drink and a relaxed atmosphere. Each guest receives a manual containing the session outlines, the entire Gospel of Luke and extra information about the issues that will be discussed. The heart of each meeting is a presentation of around 15-20 minutes done by the leader covering the content for that session. The leader works through the points, making use of a script that is provided. The group then discusses this content as much or as little as it wishes, before a concluding summary by the leader. Guests are encouraged to read the "Extra Information" before the next session. In the week before the next session, guests also read the relevant section of Luke, and note down anything they don't understand.
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