You’ve probably heard of – and read – some of N. T. Wright’s books or articles. He’s one of my favorite Bible scholars, mainly because for someone who’s a brilliant New Testament scholar he is really easy to read and understand.
In his commentary called Matthew for Everyone, he says that the writings of the early Christian leaders – which were mostly letters and stories about Jesus – were widely circulated and eagerly read. He makes the point that they ‘were never intended for either a religious or intellectual elite. From the beginning they were meant for everyone.’
When I speak with youth leaders, I regularly hear them say that one of their big challenges is bridging the gap between these ancient writings of scripture, and the modern world of their young people.
One really simply method that I’ve done with groups of young people is to choose a bible story, or even a whole book of the bible, and do a contextual re-write of it. It involves reading the text, and using your imagination to picture that story happening in your own location.
Asking questions of the text that keep the core storyline of the passage, but ‘re locate’ it into your own location and context means that you have to ask great questions of the text, and use some creative license in the process. It often enables people to understand and dig into the text in ways they hadn’t previously. Those young people who struggle to read chunks of scripture, but are auditory learners (learn through listening), often find this method really liberating and deeply engaging.
Have a look at this short video we shot where a friend of ours explains the concept, and talks about how he and his church community wrote ‘The Gospel of Victoria’, based on the Gospel of Mark.
If you do a contextual re-write with your young people id love to hear from you. Send me an email with the finished product and tell me how it all went.