Let’s face it: Opening up to the people we love most about the most important issues in life — such as faith — can be tough. Whether it’s embarrassment or misunderstanding, the fear of rejection can keep our lips sealed, thus keeping our unsaved loved ones lost in the dark. This is why Rob Peabody and Cris Rogers created Intersect: Where Your Story and God’s Story Converge (Kregel Publications/July 27, 2015/$15.99), a five-week short film resource designed to help Christians engage their family, friends and neighbors in a meaningful way about their faith. Whether used in a café, a friend’s living room or a more formal church setting, as Peabody explains in the interview below, the video series can be tailored to a variety of audiences.
Audra Jennings: Tell us about the Intersect DVD series. Who was it created for, and what is the best way for it to be used?
Rob Peabody: Intersect is a five-week short film resource designed to be a missional tool to help those in the church engage those who might not yet be ready to step foot inside its walls and begin spiritual conversations centered on Jesus. It was created with a desire to enable people to have spiritual conversations with their friends, co-workers, family, neighbors and others, regardless of their church history or familiarity with God and church.
Often I find many in our churches agree that talking about Jesus and engaging in evangelism is a good thing they want to be a part of; however, they feel ill-equipped and apathetic when it comes to doing it. Intersect is a tool to help start the conversation — to put the “ball on the tee,” to borrow a golf analogy. We are finding Intersect is best used amongst a group of friends, whether in a café, friend’s house, church group, with co-workers on a coffee break, or more formal environment. It doesn’t take long, and the conversation it lends itself to can be tailored to your specific audience.
AJ: What are you trying to achieve with Intersect?
RP: We wanted to create a tool anyone could use to facilitate a conversation about things of greater importance.
It’s called Intersect because the basic premise of the series is to hear from five normal people about their struggles, issues and journeys in regard to basic universal human issues we all deal with (rest, control, expectations, disappointment and trust). The viewer can relate to how they deal with these issues in their own lives, and then we talk about what God has to say about these issues. We intentionally tried to stay away from being preachy, and we carefully crafted how the issues were presented, working under the assumption that the viewer may not know anything about the Christian subculture. We wanted to avoid the “Christianese” we so often hear from regular churchgoers and church leaders.
We also wanted to make Intersect as authentic as possible, starting with everyday issues we all deal with, and explore how the greater story of God connects to our lives on a practical level.
AJ: The series features the faith journeys of five Christians. Why did you choose to use individual stories as the centerpiece of the series?
RP: We all have a story. There has never been a person on the planet who did not have one. Our stories give us significance. They are what connect us to the past, the present and the future. In fact, our stories make us who we are. The beauty of each person’s individual story is that although they are completely unique, our stories can relate and intersect. When this happens, the result is life-giving. When you connect with someone’s story, it may bring validation, hope, assurance, comfort, meaning and a whole gamut of other emotions. The truest beauty, though, is when elements of a shared story amongst people also connect to the bigger story of God. What I love about God’s story — his grand meta-narrative we see played out through Scripture and our world today — is that it is designed to incorporate and converge with every individual story in humanity. It’s the way God set it up. It’s the way our true humanity is realized.
In Intersect we wanted to celebrate this truth and lead with a story. In a day and age where truth is debated and experience reigns supreme, our stories speak volumes. You might feel like you have nothing to offer, but you have a story, and there is a God and a people who want to merge into and share that story.
AJ: Some people view the Bible as being abstract or symbolic. How can a person purposefully move to seeing God’s Word as a practical guide for their everyday life?
RP: Hebrews 4:12 tells us the Bible is “living and active” and it is sharp and penetrates deep down to the thoughts and attitudes of a person’s heart. This sounds pretty personal to me. There are all sorts of different genres, writing styles, symbolism and writing techniques used throughout all 66 books of the Bible. It’s quite a complex book written by multiple authors over a period of thousands of years. At the end of the day, though, if God’s revelation of Himself, humanity and reality does not impact and intimately work in and through us, all it is to us is a great historical account. We must develop a practice of purposefully engaging with God through His Spirit and His Word if we are to understand and become more like God. God is after our hearts, not our head knowledge, and it is only by wrestling with the heart of God as revealed to us in the Bible and practically applying what we learn that we can ever get on the same page with Him.
AJ: How can unmet expectations derail our spiritual journey?
RP: I would say unmet expectations are the cause of all of our disappointments. We all have expectations, whether articulated or not, and these help guide how we behave, interact and process relationships and situations we move throughout daily. For those of us who are married, you know exactly what I am talking about! Often when our expectations are not met, we need someone or something to put the blame on . . . and quite often the easiest person to put this on is God. God is not a “cosmic vending machine” or “universal police officer” looking to reward good behavior and punish bad. We shouldn’t pray in order to get what we want because when things in your life are not going the way you had expected, you end up having a problem with God. Your spiritual journey gets derailed because you have failed to have an accurate perception of God in the first place. It all comes back to the view we have of God. And this view can only be accurately painted in our hearts and minds if we have looked to God’s revelation of Himself appropriately.
AJ: What does the rest that God promises look like on a practical level in our lives?
RP: Rest is an interesting concept. Rest can be taking a nap, ‘“unplugging” for a bit of time, going on a vacation or even spending a nice night in with a loved one. The most interesting thing, though, is that although you may be in a physical posture of rest (lying down, relaxing, etc.) your mind and soul can still be at work. Perhaps you have decided to lie down on a Sunday afternoon or are watching golf on television (prime sleep conditions!), and although you have the pillows and blanket, your mind is racing about that issue you cannot seem to resolve. Sleepless nights and anxious moments are often due to the fact we do not have this “soul rest” that is referred to by Jesus in the Bible. Jesus promises true rest for the believer — a soul or heart rest — that can be achieved no matter what the outside conditions are or what situations are demanding from us. In fact, Hebrews tells us that entering into God’s rest not only secures our eternal destiny with Him but provides a peace or a rightness in the life we currently live. Jesus is the bringer of this rest. It is by Him, to Him and through Him we can truly rest in a world that never stops.
AJ: What is your ultimate hope for those who complete the Intersect DVD series?
RP: My dream is that Intersect would be used to start conversations of significance centered on the Gospel in a day where it is so easy to remain superficial and safe in the depth of conversation we conduct.
My hope for individuals who complete Intersect is that they would take their next step with Jesus, whatever that may be. For some, that will be contemplating and beginning to explore the things of God for the very first time. For others it will be re-imagining what their relationship with Him could become, and for others still it might be using Intersect to lead others to explore their relationship with God in a new and fresh way.
I also hope Intersect will give those of us in the church a tool to begin sharing our faith with those outside the walls of the church. We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you; now all you have to do is push play and be open to having a conversation. My prayer is this would be a tool that helps to empower normal believers to make a difference in someone else’s life as they walk in obedience for the Kingdom of God.
For more information about Rob Peabody, visit AwakenMovement.com, or follow the Awaken Movement on Facebook (awakenmovement) or Rob on Twitter (@AwakenRob and @awakenmovement).