By Jennifer Johnson
Many lifelong believers find it difficult to have a fresh perspective on the Bible’s stories, and many seekers and skeptics have never heard them. Joe Boyd’s “The Bible Experiment,” live theatrical retellings of the Bible’s great stories, is designed to reach both groups.
Boyd launched the project in April with two shows of the Gospel of John in Cincinnati. More than 1,000 people attended.
“The goal was just to tell the story as best we could without leaving anything out and without an agenda,” says Boyd, who served in ministry roles at churches in Las Vegas and Cincinnati before launching Rebel Pilgrim Productions in 2012. “These books of the Bible were originally written to be read and listened to in long stretches, and the book of John has fascinated people for almost 2,000 years. I wanted people to experience this story for what it is.”
But Boyd does much more than paraphrase the biblical narrative or read the verses; he brings the story and its characters to life with humor, thoughtfulness, and depth. And he immediately began receiving requests to bring the show to more places.
“We felt it was important to do the show in theaters instead of churches,” he says. “We identified several areas that have been supportive of past projects and initiated a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to take it on the road.”
Within weeks he’d raised the initial $40,000, and this fall he’s presenting the Gospel of John in Las Vegas, NV; Dayton, OH; Orange County, CA; and Louisville, KY. In addition, next month he’ll premiere the book of Genesis in Cincinnati, followed by Exodus, Matthew, and Acts in 2015.
“We’d also like to see these larger theatrical events become a catalyst for sparking smaller story gatherings in pubs, coffee shops, and break rooms,” he says. His team will partner with local storytellers in each city to create more intimate environments to experience the stories, even after the show has come and gone.
“These stories are alive,” Boyd says. “But for too long they’ve been trapped in leather-bound books on dusty shelves. The greatest theological statement we can make is that we’re living within the story of God, Jesus, Israel, and the church. We want to tell these stories the way they deserve to be told and make them accessible to a new audience.”