The Gospel is the greatest story ever told. Yet preachers today communicate it as if they were preaching from a school textbook, says one Virginia Beach pastor.
"I think communicators largely have lost the imaginative qualities of the Gospel," Ben Arment, 35, told The Christian Post. "It's being delivered in the same ways that academia communicate information."
"I don't think the Gospel was ever meant to be read that way."
Arment, a former pastor for 10 years, wants to restore those imaginative qualities to the Gospel – C.S. Lewis style.
He's bringing together six "master" communicators of the Gospel to one stage for what he calls a "theatrical conference experience." The fall event, called "Story," will feature music, drama, comedy and interactive exchanges with attendees. The goal is to create a place where Gospel communicators can be inspired to be better and more effective at what they do.
"We're setting it in the context of a theatrical environment to play up the storytelling elements of the Gospel to make it more exciting, more appealing and draw out the essence of what our story is," Arment explained.
Think of it as a dinner theater.
Hoping to convey the message all the more powerfully, Arment has booked Chicago's Paramount Theater for the conference, which is scheduled for October.
"I couldn't bring myself to put 'Story' in a church. I wanted people to experience all the theatrics of the Gospel story," he said.
The "Story" has been a long time in the making, the young pastor said.
Several years ago he and his wife had the opportunity to attend the opening of "The Chronicles of Narnia" film in London. He was inspired by the story of C.S. Lewis, who he feels understood the Gospel and knew how to communicate it and wrap it in an imaginative world.
Such story-telling, along with passion, is greatly lacking in churches and ministry today, he indicated.
"I believe in the power of stories," Arment says. "Stories captivate us. They awaken our hearts and release our imaginations.
"We are changed by their message, and moved by their insights."
He believes all stories come from the Gospel, or what he calls "the grand meta-narrative of life: the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration."
Speakers at the upcoming conference will focus on the style and methods of communicating the Gospel as well as the essence of the Gospel. The six are a diverse line-up, ranging from megachurch pastors Ed Young, and emerging church leader Chris Seay to African-American pastor Stacy Spencer and Blue Like Jazz author Donald Miller.
"Story" is geared toward anyone who communicates the Gospel, including pastors, children's leaders, teachers, authors, and those in the creative arts team or worship team.
It is being organized as a one-day event on Oct. 28 with an optional second-day of workshops which will feature more practical teaching. Attendees will learn the how-to's from professional filmmakers, writers, researchers, artists and photographers.
On the Web: www.storychicago.com