Many Christians are wondering how their faith can possibly relate to their everyday life. Often we see our faith as private—something that we do in our spare time or on the weekends, not something that shapes how we work and play every day. Even if we do bring faith into our everyday lives, it can seem tacked on. It is as if faith is limited to certain activities, and not something that comes out of the core of who we are.
To help us learn how faith relates to all of life, the folks at the Regent College Marketplace Institute (RCMI) have released ReFrame, a video course that explores what it means to follow Christ today. ReFrame seeks to explore how, in the words of Colossians 1:17, “in [Christ] all things hold together.” The introduction to each video in the course includes the following words, spoken by presenter Mark Mayhew:
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ reframes everything, bringing hope, life, and meaning to every part of human culture. And yet many of us can’t see how our faith shapes much of everyday life and experience. What are God’s purposes for us? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? How do we live in the world but not of the world? We’re exploring, “How does the biblical story reframe our story?”
The course comes in ten episodes, each about 40 minutes long. Each episode includes a TED-style talk as well as brief interviews with various people like Eugene Peterson, Scot McKnight, Ruth Padilla DeBorst, Andy Crouch, Loren Wilkinson, J. I. Packer, Krish Kandiah, Soong-Chan Rah, and Katherine Leary Alsdorf. Since ReFrame is a product of the RCMI, it is not surprising that most of these have a connection to Regent College, whether they have been professors or taught summer school courses. I was very excited about this because of my own connection to Regent (I attended there 2004–08 and graduated with an MDiv), but I think this will be exciting to a much broader audience than just Regent nerds like myself.
The ten episodes are as follows; I’ve included the speakers in the list so you can see what an all-star cast it is:
1. The ReFraming Story (Speaker: Paul Williams)
2. Cultural Stories (Speaker: Sarah Williams)
3. Creation & Fall (Speaker: Iain Provan)
4. Israel’s Calling (Speaker: Phil Long)
5. Jesus the King (Speaker: Rikk Watts)
6. New Heavens & New Earth (Speaker: Rikk Watts)
7. The Church & the Spirit (Speaker: Bruce Hindmarsh)
8. Strangers & Exiles (Speaker: Paul Williams)
9. Ambassadors (Speaker: Paul Williams)
10. Joyful Living (Speaker: Polly Long)
In addition to the talks and brief interviews, each episode also features the story of (usually one) person who is trying to live out his or her Christian faith in a particular area. For example, Strangers & Exiles features the stories of teacher George Sanker, physicist Jennifer Wiseman, and car dealer Don Flow. Here is a promo for the series, and as you can see, the production value is great:
In addition to the videos, ReFrame comes with a Leader’s Guide and Participant’s Guide. Each session is intended to take about two hours, including the watching of the 40-minute video. The Leader’s Guide looks very similar to the Participant’s Guide, but includes notes for leaders next to the main text. Here is a page from the Participant’s Guide:
Here is the same page from the Leader’s Guide:
If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that back in 2009 I reviewed a video series called The Truth Project that was billed as a “Christian worldview experience.” I anticipate that, since the two may be seen to have similar goals and I have seen both, I might be asked which one I would prefer. I would definitely say ReFrame, not least because it has a better flow from being built around a story rather than topics. Also, while The Truth Project is very well done in many ways, there are a few spots where it has trouble differentiating between a Christian worldview and the worldview of culturally conservative Baby Boomers (for example, in its treatment of American history). As such, while much of the series is very valuable, I believe that it is unlikely to have much lasting cachet outside that demographic.
I wish that I could go through every episode of ReFrame in detail, but I don’t have the space or time to do that here. Perhaps if I go through the course with my small group or a larger group from my church (which I definitely want to do), I’ll be able to sit down and write an episode-by-episode review. In the meantime, if you want to get a closer look for yourself, you can watch episodes one and five in their entirety at this link.
I highly, highly recommend this course for group study, whether it is as a small group or as a church. I pray that God will use ReFrame to powerfully influence Christians around the world to live more fully out of, and show others how to live more fully out of, the most compelling and beautiful story there is.
Note: Thanks to the Regent College Marketplace Institute for a copy of ReFrame for the purpose of review, with no expectation as to the nature of the review.