Reframe

Where do we look for material that helps us to better understand how the biblical story should make a tangible difference in our own everyday lives?

Not everyone has the capacity or inclination to enroll in formal theological education. And even those who can, often find such courses either too academic or disconnected from the realities of everyday life and work.

Regent College, a graduate school of theology based in Vancouver, Canada, has made its mission to educate Christians for their everyday, ordinary life and work.

However, until recently its reach was limited to those who wanted to engage in formal study.

In 2011 Regent’s Marketplace Institute decided to do something about this. They organized a ten week evening course called ReFrame, in order to make accessible some of Regent’s teaching to a wider audience – people who may not engage in formal theological study, but who would benefit from thoughtful reflection.

Since then, the Institute has developed the course into “a film-based discipleship resource that explores how to connect faith with all of life”, in partnership with The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture.

Explaining their rationale for producing ReFrame, they state:

“Many Christians today experience a frustrating and confusing disconnect between the story of Scripture and the story of our lives. ReFrame begins with the conviction that the story of Scripture is relevant to all of life: our jobs, our responsibilities, our relationships, and our world.

ReFrame equips Christians from all areas of life—scientists, artists, homemakers, politicians, janitors, engineers, farmers, everyone—to make this connection. The goal of ReFrame is to help Christians see the gospel with fresh eyes and experience the renewing power of Jesus Christ in every aspect of their lives.”

Structure

Divided into three sections, each session is built around a 40 minute video, which is a mix of formal teaching, interviews with leaders, and personal stories of people trying to work this out in their everyday lives. The mix is compelling.

Part 1: The Story We Find Ourselves In

Two sessions introduce the series, outlining and highlighting the alternative stories that can frame our lives and give them direction and meaning. The first session – “The Reframing Story” – introduces the biblical narrative as the primary lens for understanding our lives. The second session explores other “Cultural Stories” that are commonly told and embraced in our society.

Part 2: The Story of Scripture

The middle five sessions of the series get into the nitty-gritty of how the biblical story can frame and connect with our everyday lives as disciples. The sessions are: “Creation & Fall”, “Israel’s Calling”, “Jesus the King”, “New Heavens & New Earth”, and “The Church & The Spirit”.

Part 3: The Ongoing Story

Three sessions: “Strangers & Exiles”, “Ambassadors”, and “Joyful Living” bring the series to a climax. Here the emphasis is clearly and squarely on unpacking the “therefore” – exploring what this means for those of us who are part of the ongoing story in the twenty-first century.

Though all ten sessions are good, I think “New Heavens & New Earth” (No.6) and “Strangers & Exiles” (No.8) are particularly powerful. The first of these helps to make sense of our part in God’s redemptive plan of “putting all the bits back together”. The second builds on this by using the biblical metaphor of strangers and exiles – people whose allegiance is to another king. It poses the question of how we seek to live in this foreign land – should we retreat or should we actively engage, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom and agents of transformation?

Overall impressions

Three things I particularly like about ReFrame are:

All of life

The series paints a broad canvas, through its mix of biblical teaching and insights from trustworthy Christian leaders, personal stories of folk seeking to work it out in the midst of their everyday work and lives, and images from everyday living. Together they reinforce that faith is for all of life.

The abstract is concretized, the theoretical made practical. ReFrame leaves no doubt that the purpose of our study of the scriptures is in order for us to engage our faith with the whole of our lives. This is both refreshing and envisioning.

One small criticism though is that at times the personal interviews with folk working it out in the everyday lacked a sharpness and specificity – particularly in sharing how the insights transformed their work and life in tangible ways. The generalities didn’t always inspire and envision as I had hoped they would.

Well-packaged

The videos are beautifully crafted and presented. One of the Regent faculty is a former film maker, and his expertise shows.

I love the use of images. Particularly poignant is the one that displays a stained glass depiction of the crucified cross, superimposed on city landscapes and activity. It communicates a powerful and persistent message about the need to connect our faith with the everyday.

While there are times when the presentations move a little slower than I would prefer, and some of the shots of people working it out in their everyday lives feel a little contrived, overall the videos capture and hold my attention really well.

Affordable and flexible

Available in both digital and DVD format, the core material is reasonably priced – even when exchange rates are taken into account, and an affordable way of accessing top quality theological resources for your church or mission. Leaders and participant guides can also be purchased in hardcopy or electronically.

While the series is shaped for a communal learning environment (always my pick for the best type of learning), ReFrame is flexible enough to be used by an individual.

Highly recommended

I’ve been looking for an opportunity to “test-drive” the material with a small group, but unfortunately haven’t managed this so far. Nevertheless, my suspicion is that ReFrame will be a very valuable resource for any group keen to develop their understanding of how the biblical story connects with, and can transform our everyday lives.

Accessing the resource

For more information, go to the ReFrame website (www.reframecourse.com). A bonus is that two of the videos (Sessions 1 & 5) are available for a free preview. They’ll give you a good sense of what the material is like.

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