I truly love to read and can spend hours doing it. But I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never once read ALL the way through the Bible. Let’s face it — all the history and old language can be hard to understand. So I was intrigued to hear about a church program called “The Story” which basically presents the Bible story in a chronological way, from beginning to end, the same way you might read a novel. This unique program was created by well-known pastors and authors Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. “The Story” includes selections from the New International Version of the Bible.
Churches across the nation have participated in this program, and Southside Church in Rogers will be launching it this Sunday. Everyone is invited to participate, regardless of whether or not you’re affiliated with a different church or no church. If you’ve always wanted to read and understand the Bible, cover to cover, this is a great opportunity to do it and involve your entire family in the process.
Below is a Q&A with Associate Minister Joe James of Southside Church of Christ, who has participated in “The Story” once before and will be doing it again with Southside Church as well. Southside is located at 919 Dixieland Road in Rogers. You can also get more info by calling the church office at 479-636-1156 or by clicking HERE to go to their Facebook page.
Why did your church decide to participate in this group event?
We are participating in “The Story” so we can hear again, as if for the first time, that human history finds its meaning and beauty in relationship with its Creator. Our hope is that life-long readers of scripture and beginners alike can see the full story of God’s redeeming love.
Even people who love to read often find it difficult to read all the way through the Bible. How does this program help them change that?
We recognize the importance of Scripture. We also recognize that reading Scripture can be difficult! Scripture spans millennia of cultures, languages, and situations. It’s also arranged by genre rather than chronologically. But “The Story” arranges the narrative portions of Scripture in a way that presents it as one seamless story from beginning to end.
It’s truly insightful and exciting to read Scripture this way. It allows you to follow the story of the Bible in its own words.
Is this series intended only for people of a certain church denomination?
No! God’s grand story of redemption, hope and beauty is for all people. We genuinely hope anyone could come join us on this 9-month journey through God’s story and feel welcomed, loved and honored.
We know this is a family series. Do adults and kids study the same materials?
Yes, but in addition to the adult version of Zondervan’s “The Story,” there are also Teen, Pre-teen, Elementary, Pre-school, and Toddler versions of “The Story.” What makes “The Story” so attractive to families is it allows everyone to take the journey at the same pace.
Mom, Dad, and children take every step of the journey together. In today’s fast-paced American culture, we can be so busy and disconnected from one another. “The Story” literally puts us back on the same page.
How is music incorporated into “The Story”?
Music has always been important to God’s people. The Psalms are full of beautiful artistic expressions of human love for God, and they span every human emotion. Every week we’ll gather to worship in praise and celebration of God for what he has done and is doing among us. It has always been central to our worship-life and it will be central to our experience of “The Story.”
How did this series get started? How long have churches been participating in “The Story”?
I think Zondervan first arranged “The Story” to publish in book form in 2005. Churches all over America have been taking the journey through “The Story” since 2008. I was on staff with one of the first churches to pilot “The Story” for Zondervan (Southwest Church in Jonesboro, AR). Zondervan wanted to offer churches a resource that helped them walk members and guests through the story of Scripture in such a way that it kept the big picture of God’s redemption in focus.
In your opinion, what is the greatest benefit a family will get from participating in “The Story”?
One word – together! Families need support. First they need to be together with each other in meaningful ways. They need to share meals, share details about their days, share stories, laugh, play and worship – TOGETHER.
Secondly, they need to be together with other families that share those family values. You’ve heard the saying that ‘no man is an island.’ The same holds true for families. No family should be on an island. “The Story” gives families a larger group of families that share those values and virtues that forge strength.
We know you’ve been through “The Story” series before. What surprised you about this series and how did it impact you personally?
As I said, I have been through this with my church family in Jonesboro, AR. The biggest surprise for me was the discovery of the ‘Upper Story’. The ‘Upper Story’ is what God is trying to accomplish among his people. So often we get bogged down in the details of the ‘lower story’ (what humans are trying do – either in partnership with or apart from God). But “The Story” keeps a special focus on the big picture of what God is trying to accomplish in human history.
I remember it being one of the most beautiful and intriguing experiences of my life to see “The Story” begin with an abundant and gorgeous garden where God walked and talked with human beings, and then end back in a New Heavens and a New Earth where all things are filled, again, with the beauty and love of the Good God who created it. Those connections are difficult to make without something like “The Story” as our guide.
Our thanks to Joe James of Southside Church of Christ for the preview information on this community program!