Explaining the gospel through diagrams

By Holly Price

Description

A collection of simple diagrams, each one designed to help you explain the gospel to someone from a slightly different angle. They can be drawn on a scrap of paper, wherever you are. Each diagram comes with details of what truth it shows, who it’s designed for, how to share it and ideas for follow-up. You can choose a diagram to memorise according to your preference and/or the questions that seem to resonate with those around you.

Holly Price

Editor, Navigators UK

Holly Price loves stories. She gets to write and edit as part of the publications team. She also leads a family ministry in Southampton. Holly is married to Steve and they have two young children. 

What is the gospel?

Right from the beginning in the Gospels and in Acts, the good news was expressed in a variety of ways, but the basics remained the same:

  • God loves us
  • Jesus gave his life to save us
  • God raised him from the dead
  • By turning around (repenting) and trusting in Jesus we can be forgiven, healed and made his children

The gospel can be summed up in 15 words: ‘God loves us and wants a relationship. The only way is through Jesus, his Son.’ In many cases, however, this explanation will be a process rather than a one-off event. Jesus invested years in unpacking the truth for his friends.

The Holy Spirit is our ultimate guide in this process. God transforms hearts as we speak about how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection has transformed ours. Paul says:

Since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up… We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God… We don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-6)

 

 

How to use a gospel diagram?

The gospel can also be made visual through simple diagrams. These are easy to remember and pass on. They can be drawn on a scrap of paper or shared on a phone, wherever you are.

The following diagrams can help us explain some of the key truths of the gospel in ways that resonate with where people are at. Here is a list of the diagrams, which has been grouped by the questions people may be asking themselves or you. 

  • What’s life all about?
    • Cross Purposes – How can we live a truly connected life?
    • The 3 Circles – What is the life we were made for?
  • What makes us happy?
    • Journey with Jesus – Which way will give us more?
    • The Arrows – Why can’t we move forward in happiness?
    • Beautiful Expectations & Broken Experiences – How do we cope with reality not meeting our expectations?
  • What’s our purpose here?
    • One-sentence Taster – What does life with God look like?
    • The Pit – How can we live for love?
    • The 4 Circles – How can I help transform the world?
  • Where does God fit into all of this?
    • Hand-in-Hand – What does beginning a relationship with God involve?
    • The Bridge – How can I begin a relationship with God?
    • The Doors – What is Christianity all about?

Each diagram includes a recommendation of why you might choose that particular diagram (what it shows, who it’s designed for, how long it takes to share), how to use it and how you could follow it up. Memorising one or two diagrams gives us ready access to them.

Cross Purposes

By Holly Price

Why? To open conversation about the impact of the cross, showing that “there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). For people who would like to live a truly connected life. It could be shared over coffee or shared in fragments as issues of (dis)connection come up in everyday life.

 

How? Here’s a step-by-step guide, but it can be adapted to suit the situation (for example, you might lead with one of the questions, or with a personal story of how God’s love for you impacts the way you approach relationships):

Disconnected

 

We all long for true connection [draw Wi-Fi cloud].

But nothing seems to be enough [draw large X].

Our desires often leave us at odds with those around us [draw people], our world [draw globe], even ourselves [draw face].

Someone wrote about this disconnect in the Bible: “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it” (Romans 7:14-15).

 

Questions:

      • What do you most long for, and where do you tend to look for it? Does it deliver what it promises?
      • In what ways do you experience a disconnect?

Connected

 

There is a God who knows us completely and loves us completely [draw heart]. And he wants to reconnect with us.

The disconnect is so serious that it cost Jesus his life to put it right [draw cross].

The Bible says: “There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Experiencing God’s love sets us free to love him, other people [draw people], our world [draw globe] and ourselves [draw face].

 

Questions:

  • How could this shift in focus change the way you live?
  • How do you respond to the idea that God wants a relationship with you?

    What next?

    If they would like to begin a relationship with God, here is a prayer you could say together:

    Thank you, God, that you know and love me completely. Thank you for reconnecting my life through Jesus’ death.
    I’m sorry
    for doing life without you and for following my selfish desires. I don’t want that life anymore.
    Please
    help me to follow you and to trust that you can transform me. Amen.

    If they would like to find out more about why Jesus gave up his life for us, offer to look at Jesus’ story with them. UCCF has produced a series of accessible resources called Uncover, including whole gospels and seeker studies.

    The 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide

    By Jimmy Scroggins

    Why? To explain how we can move from brokenness to the life for which we were made. For people who know little or nothing of the Bible. It can be shared with someone in 3 minutes.

    How? Watch someone sharing it here or read an example conversation here.

    What next? Ask: Does that make sense? Which circle do you feel best describes where you’re at now? Where would you like to be? What’s holding you back from turning and trusting in Jesus?

    If they’d like to move from the brokenness circle, then ask them to pray with you: to ask Jesus to help them turn to God and believe. Invite them to read the Bible with you if they’d like to find out more.

     

    What next?

     

    Ask: Does that make sense? Which circle do you feel best describes where you’re at now? Where would you like to be? What’s holding you back from turning and trusting in Jesus?

    If they’d like to move from the brokenness circle, then ask them to pray with you: to ask Jesus to help them turn to God and believe. Invite them to read the Bible with you if they’d like to find out more.

    Journey with Jesus

    By Derek Leaf

    Why? To show that Jesus is the way to true living. For those searching for happiness or feeling disillusioned about it. This discussion could take years. Don’t rush!

    How? Draw the arrows as you discuss each numbered point.

    What next?

    Ask them if they’d like to hear more of what Jesus said, and if they do, then invite them to a Mark Drama (themarkdrama.com) and to read a Gospel with you.

     

    We all long for ‘more’ from life. God wants this for us too. Jesus said: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG)

    We all long for ‘more’ from life. God wants this for us too. Jesus said: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG)

    We all long for ‘more’ from life. God wants this for us too. Jesus said: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG)

    We all long for ‘more’ from life. God wants this for us too. Jesus said: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, MSG)

    The Arrow Illustration

    Used with permission from a conversation with a retired Navigator Rep. Adapted from a NavLog, 1971

    Why? To show that Jesus is the way to true living. For those searching for happiness or feeling disillusioned about it. This discussion could take years. Don’t rush!

    How? Draw the arrows as you discuss each numbered point.

    What next?

    Share how this big picture helps you make sense of your life, and how your life has changed since you said yes to him. Ask them if they’d like to continue investigating the Bible’s blueprint for life. You could use one of the .Life Bible studies (Work.Life, Sex.Life or Inner.Life). 

    Beautiful Expectations & Broken Experiences

    By Bernard Dishman and Tim Yearsley

    Why? To show that Jesus meets us in our broken experiences and fulfils our beautiful expectations. For someone who feels frustrated with the mismatch between their hopes and reality.

    How? Draw the symbols with the words in bold, starting with the box on the left, then the box on the right, and finally, the cross. You could focus on the examples that are particularly resonant for the person you’re speaking with.

    What next?

    Invite them to find out more about the difference the cross makes by reading a Gospel together.

    One-Sentence Taster

    By Eva Leaf

    Why? To explain what it means to be a Christian, the life-long commitment to worship and serve God. Also, to show that in God we can finally be at rest, because he is the one who is in charge. It’s based on Revelation 1:5-6: “To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.” For someone who knows nothing about the Bible or God, and wants to find out. It can be shared in as little as a minute.

    How? Begin with ‘Jesus loves us!’ and work around the 4 symbols.

    What next?

    If they would like to find out more about what it means to live like this, then share your story. How has this sense of freedom and purpose impacted your life?

    The Pit

    By Eva Leaf

    Why? To facilitate honest discussion about living for love, how relationships can disappoint and how God doesn’t. It could take you an hour or you could meet up regularly to discuss it. It could take months.

    How? Discuss it one paragraph at a time.

    Everyone wants to feel loved, and when we are low, the need for love grows. We can hunt for it, but we might not find it. We then might feel like we are tumbling into a pit. Is there anyone out there who truly cares?

    Yes! God loves us. And even better, he is love (1 John 4:8). He sees our emptiness and he doesn’t just stand there at the top of the pit. He sent his son, Jesus, to rescue us. The Bible says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

    Jesus came to earth willingly. He made himself one of us. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). When we have fallen into that pit, we are certainly lost. He is the only one who can save us.

    Yet, even though we might be in desperate need of God’s love, we must be willing to accept that we are lost, that we can’t get out of that pit by ourselves. We must be ready to accept Jesus’ help.

    We all come with different responses.

    • We might think we are too broken to be helped. But Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus understands. He cares.
    • We might think the love we need is too deep for anyone to fulfil. But Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Jesus knows our hearts and the thirst we have for love, hope and life. He is the only one who can satisfy.
    • We can accept Jesus. He says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9). Jesus gives us a choice. He knows that only he can satisfy our deepest needs. Yet, he gives us a choice. He is like a gate. We can enter or not.

    Jesus extends his hand. The Bible says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). We can choose to go God’s way.

    What next?

     

    If they would like to accept Jesus into their life, here is a prayer: Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for your love. I choose to come to you. Please help me to follow you for the rest of my life, not what I think is right. Thank you for inviting me. Amen.

    The 4 Circles: The Big Story Gospel

    By James Choung

    Why? To show how Jesus transforms the world. For people who don’t know God’s big story and for those who ache for a better world.

    How? Watch someone sharing it here or read a guide here. There is also an app.

    What next?

     

    Ask: Which of the circles do you most relate to? I can relate to that too. Can you tell me more about why you see yourself there? What is holding you back from moving to the next circle? Would you like to become part of what Jesus is doing to heal the world? Would you like to make Jesus the leader of your life?

    If they say yes, then can pray with. Invite them to read the Bible with you if they’d like to find out more.

    Hand-in-Hand

    By Eva Leaf

    Why? To facilitate honest discussion about living for love, how relationships can disappoint and how God doesn’t. It could take you an hour or you could meet up regularly to discuss it. It could take months.

    How? Discuss it one paragraph at a time.

    1. Believe that God exists

     

    Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

    We can’t come to God if we don’t believe that he is, and that who he is really matters. Yet, even though God can’t be seen as an actual person, we can see him through creation. We can experience him in our lives.

    3. Accept that we have messed up that relationship

     

    Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you.” Whether we like it or not, all of us live hurt lives, either through experience or by seeing how others are pained. Not only that, we also hurt ourselves and those around us, and when we do, we also hurt God. He is the one who made us. He never intended for us to experience life this way.

    2. Know that he loves us and wants a relationship

    Psalm 86:15: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Each of us is created for relationship, not just with people, but also with God. He is the only one who loves us unconditionally. Yet, this unconditional love is so contrary to what most people experience. Is there a story you can share of how God shows his love for you?

    4. Receive the reconciliation that Jesus gives

     

    1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Good News is this: no matter who we are, or what we have done and experienced, God wants us to be with him, to be part of his family. This isn’t a daydream; it is a possible reality. Jesus came to earth to make it happen. He is the only one who can rescue us. It is our choice if we accept or not.

    What next?

    Ask: Does that make sense? Do you have any questions about it? Would you like to meet up again to look into that together?

    If it feels appropriate, ask if they would like to like to become part of God’s family now. Pray together: God, I believe you are there and that you love me. I’m sorry for messing up our relationship. Thank you for sending Jesus to earth so I could come back to you. I choose to become part of your family. Amen.

    The Bridge

    Adapted from an illustration developed by two Navigator missionaries to Korea

    Why? To explain how to begin a relationship with God. For those who believe in God and realise they can’t live life on their own. This can be shared in minutes or you can make a mini Bible study out of it, using the verses.

    How? Follow the numbers. As you talk through each part, write the words in bold, and draw the cross and the arrow for points 3 and 4.  

    What next?

    Ask them if they’re ready to begin a relationship with God. If they agree, pray together there and then:

    Lord Jesus, I admit that I have been living my own way, separated from you, and I’m sorry. I believe that you died so that I could be forgiven of everything I’ve done wrong. Please forgive me now. Please come into my life by the Holy Spirit and help me live in a way that is pleasing to you. Be my Rescuer, my King and my closest friend all the days of my life. Amen.

    Offer to meet up regularly to discuss what it means to be a Christian. ‘First Encounters’ is a 12-part Bible study that covers the basics.

    The Doors

    By Andrew Page

    Why? To deal with the misunderstanding that Christianity is all about doing the right things. For someone who has a general belief that God exists but doesn’t understand grace, or someone who knows very little about Christianity.

    How? Here is a script – feel free to adapt it to make it your own:

    If there’s a God, how do you think we can be accepted by him? Think about it for a moment: God is perfectly good (and we are not), so how can we be accepted by him? Maybe you’ve got a list in your head (most people have) something like this: “If I help people and pray and try to be good, God will accept me.” Here’s what that answer looks like if I draw it…

    That door is the door of forgiveness, when God accepts us. Most people think there’s a path leading to the door: The path is the good things we do. Many people think God will accept us if we live good lives. But let me tell you why I think that picture is wrong… FIRST, Jesus never said we can be accepted by God by doing things. And SECOND, if that picture is correct, no one can go to bed with peace in their heart because no one knows if they’ve done enough. (And none of us has.) So I think that picture is wrong. [Cross out the picture.]

    We can’t be accepted by God by doing stuff. So how can we be accepted by God? Here’s another drawing…

    Forgiveness is a gift. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. But after we’ve received the gift, we’re so full of thanks to God that we want to live for him and for others. So why do we do good things for God? In the first drawing, we are doing good things to say “Please” to God. Here, we are doing good things to say “Thank you” to God… Which looks like freedom to you?

    But now there’s another question: If God is perfectly good, how can he forgive us? If he is perfectly good, he has to punish the bad things we have done. The Bible says God has found the only way to punish our sins but let us go free. Here it is… God found someone who had never done anything wrong and who was willing to take the punishment for our sins. Jesus. So we can be accepted by God not because of what we do for God but because of what he did for us at the cross. [Write ‘Do’ above the first picture and ‘Done’ above the second.]

    The Bible says: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:22-24, NLT). A Christian is someone who has asked Jesus to forgive them because of what he did on the cross.

    What next?

    Ask if they would like to ask Jesus to forgive them, based on what he did on the cross. Also, ask if they would like to find out more about what Jesus has done for them. You could invite them to a Christianity Explored course (christianityexplored.org) or an Alpha course (alpha.org), or offer to look at the source material with them, using a Bible study like ‘Discover Jesus’.

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    Information

    Address

    Turner House,
    54 The Avenue,
    Southampton,
    SO17 1XQ

    Contact

    info@navigators.co.uk
    023 8055 8800

    Information

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