Recently the Genesis Sunday School Class took on the challenge of summarizing the Christian Gospel in 7 words or less. Holly Hollman had seen an article in The Christian Century, in which the magazine staff asked contemporary theologians, scholars, and authors to respond to that assignment. They were inspired by Will Campbell’s renowned answer to a friend who asked him to sum up the Good News in 10 words or less, which was a classic mix of the sacred and the profane. (For the sake of being family-friendly I won’t quote it here, but you will be able to read it in one of the articles mentioned below.)
Our class took on the task with great enthusiasm. Last November we completed a year-long study of the Gospel of Mark, during which we unpacked the gospel’s text, verse by verse. It was quite refreshing to step back from that kind of micro-analysis, to think about the big picture: what is the essence of the Gospel? What is at the heart of the Good News as I understand it? How can I convey it in a way that is true to the life and message of Jesus, but could be easily understood by anyone?
Several in our class are parents, and we all agreed that this would be a wonderful topic of conversation with our children. How interesting to hear their understanding of the Gospel, now and five years from now.
What about you? Would you give it a go? Some of us came up with 2 or 3 versions, but ultimately we each put forward the one we believed was the truest as we understand it. We then had an opportunity to explain our thinking. As always, the “lesson” was most meaningful because it gave us a chance to share something about ourselves, and to deepen our connections to each other – another way to build a community of friends and disciples at Ravensworth.
Maybe you will take up the challenge in your own class, or Supper Club, or Tuesday Morning, or with your friends and family. If you wouldn’t mind sharing, email your results to me or drop a note in my workroom mailbox. I am including links to the outcome of the Genesis Class effort, and to the original articles in The Christian Century. I hope you will first explore your own heart and mind, and wrestle with your own understanding, and see what you come up with: your summation of the Good News in 7 words or less. Then check out what other followers of Jesus had to say.