One of my growing convictions has the importance of story for millennials. I’m convinced that lineal sermons with three points are not the ideal way to engage modern listeners with God’s truths; rather than presenting propositional truth, we would do better to present narrative truth to our friends and neighbors. I am increasingly convinced of the validity of Bible Storying. But the most important prodding toward telling stories came from the Bible itself. I couldn’t escape the fact that most of the Bible was a narrative. Hundreds of stories, one after the other. Only rarely do we see a sermon-like communication in the Bible. Jesus himself was a master story-teller, we know them as parables.
So I began attempting to tell the Bible stories in public with good feedback. At a major pastor’s event in 2012, I told the story of Jesus in 50 minutes, with no notes, essentially just hitting the key parts of Luke’s Gospel. The rapt attention of those pastors, who certainly knew the stories as well as anyone, alerted me to the human preference for stories told, rather than sermons read.
The next year Yvonne and I decided it would be an interesting twist on the story-telling angle to film the stories on site as we traveled the world for my work as bishop in the Free Methodist Church. We started filming Bible stories at different places during our travels. But they were random stories, like Elijah and the prophets of Baal or the Resurrection of Jesus and they were highly paraphrased, not word-for-word retellings.
We quickly fell in love with the concept and started to develop our own consistent “style.” The random stories evolved into the challenge of filming the whole gospel of Luke – a mammoth undertaking – although we didn’t apparently have any time or money to do it. We simply added a filming routine to most of our stops over the next six years. After my work commitments in a particular place were done, we’d go to an interesting location and spend an hour or two filming a 2-6 minute segment. Then, often on the plane flight home, I’d edit the material, splice in B-roll footage, and upload it to the internet.