New resource helps Christians story-tell their faith
Author, teacher and Baptist church member Mark Roques has developed an accessible online course to help Christians disciple others using creative storytelling
Slave Chronicles and Dangerous Beliefs offers 20 short stories plus study material on the theme of historic and modern slavery. The material can be used in everyday conversations, religious education or talks.
Each Chronicle contrasts Christian and materialist worldviews and demonstrates how to have respectful conversations while telling a story. While most people wouldn’t confess to supporting slavery, many acquiesce to its ongoing evils through complacency or ignorance. Alongside each narrative the evils of slavery are shown to have their roots in wrong thinking about the value of all human beings.
Commissioned by Thinking Faith Network, this short course which launches online February 2021, demonstrates how to discuss a biblical response which challenges this social evil. It can be studied by individuals, student or other small groups working at their own pace over six-eight weeks and supported by an online peer-learning community.
Mark, who preaches in Cragg Hill Baptist Church in Horsforth, Leeds, first developed a worldview approach as an RE high school teacher in 1990s to attract the attention of dIsengaged sixth-formers.
He said, 'I immediately saw that neither pious homilies or straightforward religious education were cutting it. Instead I brought in albums, video and newspaper clips. What story was Madonna inhabiting in Material Girl, or Roy Keane telling when he wrote that pro-footballers were just ‘pieces of meat’?
'By exploring the stories behind pop music, entertainment and sports reporting with them I was able to unpack the underlying worldview.
'I named and shamed the individualistic and materialist belief system that mugs so many today. Only by understanding this dark faith can we make sense of human trafficking. I pointed out that trafficked people are not just ‘pieces of meat’ for sexual consumption or slave labour, but precious creatures made in God’s image and likeness.
'The students hung on my every word. No sneering and smirking and excellent end-of-term feedback. Not only does this approach work, it works in every setting without any complaints of preaching or indoctrination. Vital in today’s pluralist society. You are sharing about something people know very little of through stories.
'Materialism is almost never scrutinised as a dangerous and destructive belief system. Many today ignore the Christian faith because they have never thought about the materialist mindset that has captivated their lives and imaginations.'
Mark has shared his ideas in a number of blogs in The Baptist Times in recent years.
Talking about Mark’s method, the Right Reverend Dr John B Thomson, Bishop of Selby, said:
'This is a very impressive approach to evangelism. I like the way you deconstruct the assumed beliefs people rarely examine. I keep saying wherever I go that I have yet to meet a non-religious person in my life. Everyone has beliefs.
'The question I’m interested in is which religion or beliefs really hold water when faced with the big meaning questions of life? Your resources address this head on.'
Co-developer Patricia Gray said: 'Mark has a great track record of holding neighbours, audiences and readers enthralled. His lively and humorous storytelling has captivated thousands over the years. Yet all the while, he’s dealing with some of the most difficult and fundamental aspects of what and why people believe as they do.
'With Slave Chronicles and Dangerous Beliefs Mark brings a much-needed and useful online resource to the Christian community, educating and enabling both discipleship and evangelism at a time when meeting physically is still challenging for many.'
Find out more about the course from Mark: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark has blogged about his approach at RealityBites https://thinkfaith.net/blog
Thinking Faith Network is an educational organisation that promotes faith in all of life; exploring how imaginative Christian thinking can transform and enrich every area. It promotes innovative communication of the Christian story through its RealityBites resources, commissioning Slave Chronicles and Dangerous Beliefs in response to the need for accessible and engaging worldview education.