Gilroy church approaches Bible in novel way

Gilroy’s New Hope Community Church begins “The Story,” a unique, reader-friendly study of the Bible, on Sept. 2.

The Rev. Malcolm MacPhail, lead pastor of Gilroy’s New Hope Community Church (8886 Muraoka Drive) has noticed a troubling new phenomenon. When he talks with people in places like Starbucks, they seem to have less and less familiarity with the notable people or events from the Bible. Even Christians seem to have meager knowledge of this foundation of their faith.
This is problematic, for he cites a study conducted by Willow Creek Church, a mega-church in the Chicago area. It determined that “the number one catalyst for maturity and growth in Christian faith is knowledge of the Bible.” Everything else (like church attendance, fellowship, prayer life) is far less important.
So Pastor MacPhail was excited when he heard about a program to increase knowledge and understanding of the Bible. A friend, pastor of Destiny Church in Rocklin, told him about the dramatic effects among the members of his congregation when they launched “The Story.” With 100 percent participation, it elevated the “scriptural intellect” of his parishioners.
Despite the number of modern language translations of this venerable book, many people today still neglect to read the Bible. Because of the way it is organized, they find it difficult, intimidating and boring.
“The Story” is not the complete text of the Bible; it is a companion to it. Written in today’s English, it retells the most important events of the Bible in 31 easily read chapters. Some passages are omitted, while it gives the basic narrative without pedantic chapter and verse numbers in chronological order, like a novel.
“The Story” is based on the concept that the Bible has an “upper” story that tells the big picture, the grand narrative of God’s plan for salvation, and a “lower” story that gives the particulars of the biblical characters’ human experiences.
For example, in Genesis God decides to destroy all life except Noah’s family through a flood – this is the lower story. But the upper story is that God promises he won’t ever flood the earth again, teaching humans that he wants to fix what is broken, not destroy it.
New Hope will begin this 31-week adventure on Sept. 2 at the 9 and 11 a.m. worship services when Pastor MacPhail will preach on chapter one. Each week will continue this study on successive Sundays as well as in small discussion groups on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
Age-appropriate copies of “The Story” are available at the church for $10 to $12. A small group guide can be purchased for $8; this is the workbook that goes along with the midweek video presentations.
Anyone who would like to join this unique, reader-friendly study of the Bible is welcome to attend at no charge except for the books, and some scholarship assistance is available for this expense. Three videos introducing “The Story” can be seen on the church’s website: www.nhccgilroy.org.
Pastor MacPhail calls the Bible the “Standard Operating Procedures Manual for Christians” and promises that participants “will gain understanding of God’s role in history, now, and in the future.” For more information call 408-842-4857.

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