by Alan Grieve
Interact Magazine 1998
Volume 9 Number 3
Christianity Explained is a gospel presentation developed by Rev Michael Bennett. This way of presenting the gospel rose to fame in 1988 when Scripture Union endorsed it as a tool for evangelism, promoting it in their Pavilion of Promise during the World Expo in Brisbane.
It begins with the premise of assuming nothing. Michael Bennett explains that Australians live in a society where many people have never heard the name of Jesus except as an expression of blasphemy. ‘Over 90% of young Australians growing up today do not even have a Sunday School understanding of the Gospel.’(1) Bennett believes Australians don’t like being put on the spot or being expected to make an immediate decision. They prefer to take their time, especially with the issue of Christianity, so Christianity Explained presents the gospel message over six sessions. The course is non-threatening in its presentation. In the introductory session participants are informed that they will not be asked to publicly answer any questions, they will not be asked to pray in public and whilst there will be suggestions for ‘homework’ they are not compelled to complete it. However, each participant is encouraged to ask as many questions as they wish.
As the course unfolds it breaks into two distinct sections. The first three studies focus on the Person of Jesus. Firstly, the aspect of Jesus being God’s Son and therefore possessing all the attributes of God is explained. The second study looks at the death of Jesus while the third highlights the resurrection. The second section of the series shows how the message about Jesus can be applied to our lives today. Study four explains the difference between grace and works. Study five discusses the matter of repentance and faith while the sixth one focuses on assurance of salvation. At the conclusion of each study a summary sheet which includes suggestions for homework is handed out.
Homework for the first three studies takes each participant through the Gospel of Mark, so at the commencement of the next session, time is given for questions which may have arisen from their reading. In fact it is strongly suggested that each person be given a cheap copy of the Scriptures so that they can feel free to mark the Bible, they will be studying the same version, and when using a particular reference the leader can state the page number rather than the book, chapter and verse. Following the fourth study each person is presented with a copy of a gospel tract titled How to Know God and is encouraged to read it during the week. It explains the gospel with short statements, relevant texts and simple diagrams. Study five begins by asking whether there are any questions arising out of their reading of the tract and at the conclusion of this study they are encouraged to look at the tract again and especially the Prayer of Commitment.
Study six wraps up the series and an evaluation form is handed out. Again there is no obligation to complete this form although by this time trust and affinity have usually developed so folk are happy to respond. Part of this course uses the diagnostic questions of Evangelism Explosion and they are repeated in the Evaluation Form. Therefore participants are asked, ‘Suppose you were to die tonight and as you stood before God He was to ask you “Why should I let you into my heaven?” ’ It is on the basis of answers given in the Evaluation Form that a leader determines the progress of an inquirer and carries out appropriate follow-up.
I have personally used this form of evangelism now for about twelve years and have found it an effective tool in sharing with folk the claims of the gospel. It has been my joy to see numbers of people come to faith in Jesus because of this presentation.
NOTE – Training materials and resources can be obtained through Scripture Union.
Rev Alan Grieve is Senior Pastor at Stafford Heights Baptist Church, Queensland.
© Rev Alan Grieve (1 November 1998)