By Matt Myers
Chandler Christian Church set out to help people know Jesus like never before.
Going through The Story in 2011 was a life-changing experience for our church. People who had always struggled to read anything, much less the Bible, were not only reading Scripture but sharing it with people they knew. Simply putting God’s Word into story format enabled people to overcome that “Bible intimidation factor.” Not only that, it also allowed them to finally see for themselves how the whole Bible points toward Jesus. Since The Story had such a great result, our lead pastor, Roger Storms, began to ask, “What’s next? How do we capitalize on this?”
Our answer was fairly simple: more Jesus. If the “big aha!” of The Story was learning that every book of the Bible points toward Jesus, what would happen if we did a similar series focusing only on Jesus? Would recasting the Gospels into a novel format compel people who resist reading the Bible to get into the Word? We wanted to find out.
So in 2012 we launched our own 14-week series called HIS Story for adults, teens, and children. The vision was, “Get to know Jesus like you’ve never known him before.”
With copyright permission, we used the New Living Translation to harmonize the four Gospels into one seamless story about Jesus. Using the research of Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry (who wrote The NIV Harmony of the Gospels), along with The Chronological Life of Christ by Mark Moore, each verse was carefully excerpted, harmonized, and placed in chronological order. The text went through numerous edits to ensure the greatest accuracy and quality. The final text was proofread by Peachtree Editorial Services. Transitions were written to smooth over the changes in location or to help the reader better grasp what was unfolding.
In other words, it was a lot more work than we anticipated! But it was also well worth it. The result was a 14-chapter book, children’s curriculum, small group curriculum, and a resource CD.
The response to HIS Story has been phenomenal. It has been effective for both the unchurched and growing believers. We received hundreds of testimonies during the series from people who were in different stages of their faith walk. Here is a sample of what they shared with us:
“HIS Story and the discussions it has inspired played a huge role in helping our son embrace Jesus, and as a result, he decided to get baptized.”
“I read HIS Story to my kids every night at bedtime through this series. My 3-year-old and 7-year-old were excited each night and really paid close attention.”
“In January, my girlfriend invited me to church, after HIS Story already began. Since then, I have restored my faith, learned more about Jesus, [and] how better to love others and to live life as a better person.”
“This has been great to help young Christians learn to read the Bible. I have given copies to people I am reaching out to. One is a 72-year-old man who has been frustrated for years and gave up trying to read the Bible. He is now reading HIS Story and loves it.”
“Ever since being baptized on February 19, my relationship with Christ has grown exponentially. HIS Story came alive and was my constant companion. I sent copies to all of my family in Indiana. Thank you, CCC, and thank you, Jesus. HIS Story is just the beginning.”
The unchurched were able to hear the message of Christ in a way they had never experienced before. In fact, there was even one unchurched guy who resorted to stealing a copy so he could read it. True story.
One of our members came to buy an extra copy, so I casually asked if she was going to give it to someone. She told me her car had been in the shop for the last week, and she had left her book in it. A few days after she brought the car home, she realized her copy of the book was missing. She knew it was in her car when she took it to the shop, so she called her mechanic to see if he knew what had happened to it. He admitted to her that the book looked so intriguing he had picked it up to see what it was all about. After reading the first few pages, he was so hooked he couldn’t put it down. Then he asked, “Do you mind if I finish?” She didn’t mind at all.
Going through The Story sparked a desire in us to create HIS Story, not because we desired to be unique, but because we desperately wanted people to know Jesus through the Word. We witnessed firsthand that it works.
For more information about using HIS Story in your church, visit www.knowhisstory.com.
Matt Myers serves as pastor of changing ministries at Chandler (Arizona) Christian Church.