a few years ago, ys picked up this large triennial youth event called dcla (it had been a youth for christ event since the mid-80s). we hosted dcla in 2006, using a modified version of the approach that had been developed for the 2003 event. that approach was to use the big room meetings to do a narrative walk through the story of jesus as seen in the gospel of john. drama, film, music, animation, mini talks — all combined to weave the story (or stories).
(the labs, a seperate aspect of the event, allows a very interesting space — in peer circles of 8 teenagers — to process and interact. in 2003, that was around the 3-story concept: understanding the relationship between god’s story, my story, and my friend’s story.)
when we were considering whether or not we were even going to DO dcla 2009, one of the things we decided was that we only wanted to plan the event if we thought we had something new and fresh that we were excited about as a framing for the content. in some dreaming meetings earlier in the year, we landed on the “be. love. serve. repeat.” idea, as well as the hope of expanding the big room concept to telling the entire story of god — the whole bible narrative.
so, these last two days (tuesday and wednesday), i sat with four others to lay down some rails for that idea of the big room. obviously, we knew we couldn’t somehow tell every story in the bible over 3 big room sessions. so we had to come up with a thread. we talked about various aspects of god’s story, various threads that could be pulled or followed to create a pathway. and we landed on a story thread, or framing device, that was to tell the stories of god’s interactions with humans to redirect the story. for a while, we were referring to these scences as times when god “broke the plane” and interacted with humans. but we reminded ourselves that that isn’t accurate, really, since there isn’t a plane to break.
based on that “god’s interactions with humans to redirect the story”, we created a long list of bible stories that hang on that thread, or are implicated by that theme. that list is below. lots of stories didn’t make the list, after discussion about whether or not they really connected with that theme.
all of that work was done in about a half day. then came the real challenge. we knew that list was still way too long. so we went back through the list and culled it down to those stories that seemed essential to both the thematic thread, and to telling a reasonably complete version of god’s story or the grand narrative arc of scripture. we wrestled, argued, theorized, philosophized, prayed, considered, proposed, and laughed our heads off. but we really sensed that god was in this thing, and that we were crafting something that could be really helpful to the tens of thousands of kids who attend dcla.
anyhow, here’s the list. the struckthrough words —
like this — are the stories we cut from the list.
Moses call/exodus/pillar & cloud
[writings] (psalms, etc)
kings & prophets
Jeremiah (29 – “know the plans I have for you… in 70 years”)
Daniel/shadrach, meshach, Abednego
Baptism/Trinitarian moment/temptation/reading the scroll (luke 4)
(this part of the storyline was a toughie. based on our thread of “god interactions with humans to redirect the story”, every single story from the life of jesus qualifies! so we had to find a secondary framing for the life of christ. we considered a framing from Isaiah, and a few other prophetic fulfillments. but in the end, we decided to go with a contextual theme of jesus’ counter-cultural, revolutionary actions and message. so we listed some of the counter cultural kingdom of god, god-in-christ moments that we thought fit the arc, then winnowed from there.)
woman at the well
– anointing feet
– healing on the Sabbath (including matt and friends)
– eating with sinners
– lepers/unclean woman/jairus’ daughter
jesus speaking truth to those in power
– foot washing
(back to the regular storyline)
Pentecost (focus on the shift in relationship from pre- to post-pentecost,
that we’re invited into the relationality of the trinity)
at the end of our work, we sat around and talked about what an amazing gift it was to spend two whole days reflecting on the stories of god and the story of god. it’s rare that any of us would take two whole days for this. but to sit in a room with a group of 5 and talk about these stories, reflecting on god’s story-crafting, god’s love, god’s interaction with humans — wow, what a gift.
now i’m really pumped about dcla.