Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review of evangelistic & apologetic resources: Introducting God


Introducing God is another in the series of evangelistic courses following the Alpha / Christianity Explored format of talk, meal & discussion. Written by Dominic Steele from Christians in the Media, broadly speaking it is an expansion and exposition of the Two ways to live gospel outline that I reviewed earlier.

The difference Jesus makes weekend

There are loads of things that I really love about this course.

1. A whole biblical worldview is presented. Two ways to live is a such a great outline of the gospel. It assumes no knowledge of the gospel. Like the bible itself it shows us our need of Jesus rather than assuming that everyone would inherently be interested. The whole plot line of the bible is outlined and climaxes in the death and resurrection of Jesus, with a very clear call to respond by repentance and faith.

2. Good decisions were made in expanding the two ways to live material. In a world unfamiliar with Christ it is good to have three weeks looking at Jesus, not two. Whereas 2wtl has cross and resurrection, IG has the authority, cross and resurrection of Jesus. The three mini-talks on the weekend are good at helping people to see a little more what the Christian life looks like, and therefore enables people to count the cost of discipleship well.

3. The material is flexible: you have the choice of using the videos of Dominic Steele's excellent talks themselves, or using the format (and PowerPoint presentations provided) and having live speakers who would be free to alter personal illustration, or change illustrations to fit their culture better. (If you choose the videos and are not Australian, you do get some interesting views into Australian culture, including the introduction of a Steggles Number One)

4. If you choose to use the videos, Dominic Steele is a faithful preacher, good communicator and passionate evangelist.

5. The talks are expository which helps people to see that the idea's are not the speaker's but the Bible's. They do a good job of expounding the texts rather than just reading into them.

6. The video's are extremely well produced - the talks are all given as live talks to a group that was genuinely going through the course. This both serves to give an immediacy to the talks, and helps to model to the group attending the course the ways in which they are invited to have open discussion about the material.

I have a couple of minor reservations.

1. In the videos there are depictions of Christ, including on the cross, I think from the Jesus film. Wherever one falls on depictions of Christ and whether they are permissible, within the church there have been enough Christians for whom this would trample on their consciences, and it adds so little that they would have been better left out.

2. At the end of a couple of the talks Dominic leads in a "sinners' prayer". Immediately after this Lee Hatcher (who introduces and concludes each video) gives a verbal assurance of salvation to those who have prayed that prayer. This is done a little carelessly, as if praying a sinner's prayer is equivalent to salvation. Better that affirmation of the credibility of someone's profession of faith is left up to the church in which that person is baptised.

Both these minor criticisms would be easily removed if you chose to do the talks live rather than using the videos.

On balance Introducing God is the prepackaged talk & discussion format course that I like best. I pray that the Lord would use it in Australia and beyond to bring people to not just be Introduced to God, but also to be granted repentance and faith in Christ Jesus as they are face with the choice we all face.

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