Written by Assistant Pastor Jon Herring- A brief re-cap of last month’s Go FoUrth session
In the 90s, advertisers realised that story telling was powerful and one of the most successful and impactful advertising campaigns was Nescafe Coffee’s.
They advertised their coffee using two young sophisticated neighbours who began a romance. And the adverts developed over a few months. Here is the first one.
This was one of the most talked about add campaigns ever! The story was so compelling that people were desperate to know when the next one would come out.
Stories are compelling!
Stories appeal to emotions. And as such stories often drive what we believe.
In a good story we grow to like the characters and so find it hard to disagree with their beliefs. Much easier to disagree with abject arguments.
Have you ever found yourself watching something where one half of a married coupe has an affair and you find yourself supporting them in your mind. You have been spun a build up story about how badly they have been treated by their spouse so of course they would fall for someone who was going to truly love them, How can you argue with that!
And all of a sudden we go from being someone who completely believes in fidelity to being someone who condones an affair…
We have bought in to the story.
We find empathy and sympathy for the story and miss the wrong and inappropriate affair.
Stories suck us in. Stories can make truth claims- what is good, what is bad. And a story is not a dialogue, and can not be interrogated.
And so stories are often used in manipulative propaganda- just think of the victory of the sexual revolution. As we saw in SSSRC recently this has been the case with the current debates around gender issues. We see lots of emotive stories of people who have struggled with gender issues and the story telling has been so good and powerful that they have swayed our ethics and cultural view on this. It is hard to argue with a good story.
We don’t believe in the Devil in the West because we don’t see much in the way of spiritual demonic activity but the devil uses many things to deceive us and keep us believing lies. And one way I believe he has done this is by using film, TV, advertising and other such means to normalise and emotively manipulate us into accepting, supporting and sympathising with cultural views that go against God’s good and perfect ways.
Our culture has been shaped more by romanticism than rationalism. Feelings have become King. If you feel like you want to do something you should run with your feelings. You can be whatever you want to be, follow your feelings!
Romanticism doesn’t even need to be logically consistent. You can hold logically inconsistent positions if it feels right. We see this all the time.
And as evangelical Christians we have failed to engage with this and speak into it and respond with truth effectively and lovingly!
John Stevens (FIEC Director) was speaking recently and he said- When he was a student, Churches were full of artists… these days it is full of scientists, because we concentrate too much on preaching intellectually and not to engage the emotions.
Now we don’t want to be manipulative like the advertisers and movie makers with an agenda to brain wash people.
But we do have a story that is far better. The gospel is fundamentally a story. It combines both the romantic and the rational. Because it is a true story. It is the true story!
We could have a cold boring book that just lays out the facts.
Repent and Believe.
Trust in Jesus.
Be born again.
Then you will have eternal life.
But God has given us a book that is set in history and in an astonishing narrative that reveals so much more of God’s character and plan for us!
God stepped down into the world, he became a part of history, to reveal His story to us!
Because v6 ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
And it is an amazing story.
A story of salvation, a story of restoration from ruin, a story of love!
And this is therefore a great reminder that we too need to be story tellers. We need to learn how to point people to the better story of the gospel and tell the story of Jesus our saviour.
And not only do we need to tell it we need to live it. We need to live this better story!
What a love story God’s story is. It is a story that comes from God and ripples through God’s people to bless them and the whole world through them!
When you ask someone how they became a Christian their story often starts with how they knew someone who was a Christian whose life really impacted them.
We need to live the story!
We are not all evangelists… but we are all witnesses. Not all of us are gifted at a evangelism that is why we might find it hard but we are all called to be witnesses.
We mustn’t underestimate the value of Christian witness.
We the church are meant to be the great story of salvation. Our communities need to see this.
Lets pray that God would help us to tell and live out his better story.