When it comes to buying a cup of coffee these days, the choice is sometimes overwhelming. Do I want it small, medium or large; hot, iced or frapped; cow, almond or soya; added chocolate, caramel or vanilla; extra hot, flat or shot, and so the list goes on. Now while individualisation is fun and allows me to express myself in a paper cup, there are times when I want to say, ‘Please just give me a coffee.’
There’s something refreshing about just enjoying the aroma and taste of the coffee without gingerbread pumpkin spice bombarding the senses. In the same way, there is something very compelling about an evangelistic event which gives the whole story of the gospel in a single evening in a connected set of short talks. That’s what the School of Faith evenings provide.
Background and Context
The idea came from research amongst millennial sceptics who are very wary of signing up for a longer form course but are very used to going to after work events where there is a panel of speakers all giving short talks around a theme. The format combines conciseness (each talk is between 5 and 12 minutes), variety (different speakers with a range of skills and experience) and personality (each speaker gives a personal story within their talk). Millennials will often go to talks in this format in the early evening and they are either organised by their firm or by associations or venues such as co-working spaces. There are normally refreshments afterwards and there can be stalls where people can gather further information and sometimes live music or a DJ.
Part of the fun is hearing different people who have crafted their punchy, personal and powerful story with slides and often fully memorised without a script. It’s a format made famous by TED talks and, like TED, these locally organised events are often recorded and watched by many more people afterwards.
What is it?
The School of Faith is a collaboration of several evangelists who have prepared a set of five talks all based on the parable of the lost sons:
1. Home Start: Does it matter what you believe?
2. Home Grown: What is God like?
3. Home Run: What is wrong with the world?
4. Home Delivery: What’s God’s play?
5. Home Free: What does it mean to be a Christian?
A live recording of the talks made at All Souls Langham Place is available at theschooloffaith.org and scripts are available on request. This event, based on Luke 15, has been run in London, New York and Los Angeles. Each time different speakers have adapted the material to make it their own with their personal illustrations. But in each case the gospel narrative in its fullness was explained.
The plan for late-2021 is to write material with talks based on five characters from the Christmas story and then to prepare A Passion For Life version looking at the cross and resurrection from the perspective of five characters from the Easter story. These scripts and example videos will be uploaded to the theschooloffaith.org website and subscribers to the site will be notified.
The School of Faith is deliberately a ‘one-stop-shop’ giving a one-time gospel download. It therefore is ideal for people who can see the relevance of Christianity from conversations they’ve had but have never heard the gospel explained in the whole. What the event doesn’t do is give much opportunity for discussion and exploration. It is therefore an ideal introduction to an evangelistic course where people, having heard the gospel, can unpack the details and apply personally over a number of weeks in community with others in a local church.
Try it for yourself
At the School of Faith we want to be generous and we are very happy for churches to use their own branding and call it something else. All we’d ask is that you let us know if you’re using the scripts so we can pray for you and learn from your experience. We’d also like to be able to link to your recordings on our site so people can see the same story of grace that Jesus told being retold in communities across the nation and the globe!
For more information please head to theschooloffaith.org
Event running order
The following is a suggested running order, but can all be tailored to your setting.
7.00 People arrive
7.12 Welcome – Event host
7.16 Vox pop street interviews 1 – Who do you have faith in and why?
7.18 Home Start – Speaker 1
7.26 Video or live reading Luke 15:11–19
7.29 Home Grown – Speaker 2
7.41 Vox pop street interviews 2 – What’s the cause of all the mess in the world?
7.43 Home Run – Speaker 3
7.55 Break – Intro by event host
8.00 Chat and grab a drink and snack
8.12 Get people back together
8.14 Video or live reading Luke 15:20–24
8.17 Home Delivery – Speaker 4
8.29 Chat to neighbour (if running late this could be cut)
8.32 Video or live reading Luke 15:25–32
8.35 Home Free – Speaker 5
8.47 Next steps – Event host or person running follow-on course in local setting
8.50 Drinks and chat
9.30 People leave and clear up begins