How do you effectively share the Christian faith in a world where people increasingly spend their free time online? For centuries the Gospel message has travelled from person to person, either through face-to-face conversations or in the context of big events, but both of these are suffering from a downturn in the wake of the communications revolution. Of course, there's no substitute for talking one-on-one with someone about the faith that's changed your life, but how do we reinterpret 'go out into all the world and make disciples' when the nature of that world, and how it communicates, has radically changed?
That's the challenge that's been taken up by Glen Scrivener, an Australian-born evangelist now based in the South of England. Glen is also a poet and spoken word performer, and he's combined his calling and his linguistic skill to create a fascinating and growing anthology of evangelistic online video content. Glen's films, which generally feature him speaking in tightly-woven poetic rhymes, are inescapably reminiscent of Rob Bell's Nooma videos which – whatever your view on the former megachurch pastor – undoubtedly set a high bar for the genre.
Glen's videos are short enough to maintain the modern viewer's attention, and deep and well-crafted enough to intrigue them into further exploration. Since they generally appear around a major Christian festival, they create a perfect opportunity for Christians to share their faith via social media. Here are three of the very best, including his just-released Easter effort:
If You Had Been Here
Glen's brand new video, released for Easter 2016, is a retelling of the story in John 11 where Jesus arrives apparently too late to the home of his dead friend Lazarus. Filmed in a beautifully ornate church, with Glen dressed as if attending a funeral, it rewards careful listening and even a second viewing. A great way to share an Easter message, especially with creative and artistic friends.
Cannonball - feat. Guvna B
A much more youth-friendly film short, which replaces Glen's face with edgy animation and his voice with that of MOBO-winning rapper Guvna B. Cannonball uses a fantasy story about a race of people 'sinking into quicksand' before being rescued by a messianic meteor, to create a tight allegory for the Gospel story.
Halloween: Trick or Treat
Perhaps Glen's best-known and most successful work, this video explores the Christian origins of Hallowe'en, and uses them to point to the much more significant light behind the trivial darkness. It's a really intelligent, disarming and non-sensational way to talk about faith around that festival which doesn't stop at "we don't do Hallowe'en."
There are more videos, including several based around the Christmas story, on Glen's SpeakLife YouTube channel. He's also part-way through an ambitious separate video project, Reading Between the Lines, which takes viewers through the entire Bible in a year, using the famous phrases and idioms which originate in Scripture. At time of writing there are almost 90 of these short videos, in a journey which can be started at any time. You can find the first one, based fittingly on the phrase 'in the beginning', here.