Resource Review: The Bible Project
The Bible Project (TBP) is a crowd funded animation studio who believe that the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. All of their material is free and available on their WEBSITE & YouTube. Although I am going to approach them as a great youth ministry resource, they would certainly not describe themselves this way. These are videos that have the ability to captivate all ages sweeping them up into the biblical narrative.
Videos fall into 3 categories:
- Book Overviews– this is where they work through whole books at a time pointing out the design patterns and themes. They now have videos for every book in the Bible! You can also download (or purchase from their store) beautifully created posters. TBP are also taking their time unpacking some further having just completed LUKE-ACTS.Use within youth ministry:
These videos are valuable but packed with information. We did a weekend away where we worked through the book of Ephesians, I began the weekend by showing the whole video and then began each individual session by just showing the relevant parts. This aided the group by keeping them within the overall narrative whilst enabling us to explore individual sections in depth. This could also work over a number of weeks.
- Themes – Kingdom, Law, Heaven & Earth, Son of Man and Exile are just some of the themed videos available. Their approach to each theme is to trace it through the narrative of the Bible to see how it unfolds.Use within youth ministry:
These are really excellent and perhaps the easiest to use within a youth ministry setting- I have been known to lead a session on a theme, started with an introduction activity, watched the video and then used their discussion guides to help prepare discussion and activities around the theme. Their podcast is also worth checking out for background understanding for when the inevitable questions arise from the group.
- Word Studies- Heart, Love, Joy & Sin are examples of some of the word videos TBP have been exploring in detail by unpacking the nuances and images of each.Use within youth ministry:
Similarly to ‘themes’, if you were doing a session on ‘loving your neighbour’, showing the ‘love’ video would help think deeper about what is really being asked. Or perhaps over Christmas whilst reflecting on consumerism you might reflect on the alternative of the great ‘joy’ available to us in the coming of Jesus and spend a bit of time really thinking about the word by discussing the video.
The Bible Project is a real game changer, not just because of their method (high quality animated videos) but because of their message. I have found that youth ministry resources have tended to treat the Bible in a number of different ways:
The Instruction Book (B.I.B.L.E = Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth). “Here is how to live your best life, the life God wants for you, your most purposeful life”.
The Devotion Book. “Reading the Bible is a Spiritual experience where we can encounter God and hear him speak to us”.
The Rule Book. “These commands will help you to live a holy life that is pleasing to God, follow them closely”. (At its worst this approach can communicate – “follow these rules so you can be saved and go to heaven” even if not explicitly said like that).
The Doctrine Book – “The Bible tells us everything we need to know for the Christian life, who God is, what his plan for salvation is, who the Spirit is etc…”
A mixture of each of these approaches can be helpful to some extent, however the Bible Project are approaching it through the lens of narrative theology (The Bible = Story Book). Narrative theology (also known as ‘post-liberal’) has been around since the second half of the 20th century but is an approach that is becoming increasingly popularised. Treating the Bible as an unfolding narrative is helpful as it forces us to step back and to watch how God’s plans have unfolded throughout history, to pick up on common themes and key ideas and also to find our own place within the story.
Tom Wright talks about scripture as a play with five acts (creation, fall, Israel, Jesus and new creation). We as actors who have studied the first four acts and know the ending of the fifth are invited to improvise as we join in with God’s act of recreation. This is not just a story but one which has swept us up into God’s purposes for all of creation. KXC church in the UK have been on this theological adventure, you can watch Pete Hughs talk about this HERE.
A shift towards narrative theology is particularly helpful because the concept of ‘stories’ are important for generation Z. The Bible Projects mixture of this and use of ‘talking in pictures’ makes it a valuable tool for communicating the good news of Jesus to teens. Go and immerse yourself in their videos, blogs and podcasts and allow them to take you on a theological adventure!