The Chosen has been watched by millions of people around the world and has received praise even in Jewish and secular news-sources for its authentic and relatable characters. If you want to help some non-Christian or unchurched friends explore the Christian faith and encounter Jesus, you should consider starting a group to watch and discuss The Chosen. I've already argued why The Chosen is worth discussing in the context of a church or faith community and I've offered some general ideas for starting a group discussion of The Chosen, but in this post I'll share some tips specifically about starting a group for outreach/evangelism.
Define your vision of outreach
Like I mentioned in my earlier post, before you start gathering your group, it's important to define its purpose and vision. You need to have a sense of what you hope to experience as a group and how your group fits into the larger vision or goals of your church or faith community. Later, when you try to recruit other Christians to help you, having a clear vision will help you communicate clearly and effectively. Your vision will also help you make decisions about how to use your group's time, who to invite, etc.
If you're reading this article, you may think you've already got this step covered. The purpose of your group is outreach, right? But it helps to be a little more specific. What type of people are you planning on reaching out to? What type of experience do you want them to have? Here are a few examples:
To introduce non-Christians to Jesus through watching and discussing The Chosen.
To create a safe and friendly space for skeptics and seekers to ask questions and share their thoughts and feelings about Christianity.
To help unchurched people familiar with Christianity to experience authentic and supportive relationships centered around Jesus
To encourage deconstructing Christians and ex-vangelicals to engage with Jesus and the core truths of Scripture.
Regardless of the purpose you choose for your group, make sure it is aligned with the vision of your church or ministry, and that it reflects God's heart of grace and his mission to seek and save the lost.
Recruit other Christians to help you
Watching The Chosen with non-Christians and helping them discover Jesus can be a lot of fun. It can also be a demanding and exhausting. You may not be able to do it all by yourself, and you don't have to. Instead, you should consider inviting other Christians to help you.
Ideally, you will want to recruit Christians who have an authentic relationship with Jesus, a solid understanding of Scripture, and a passion for the lost. But you might want to consider recruiting some newer Christians, since they probably have more non-Christians friends than those who have been in the church bubble for a long time. Recent Christians will also benefit from serving alongside you and watching you lead - kind of like how Simon and the disciples learn by serving alongside Jesus in The Chosen.
By recruiting other Christians, you can:
Share the workload and responsibility: You can delegate some of the tasks and roles that are involved in running your group. For example, you can assign someone to handle the logistics, someone to prepare the food, someone to lead prayer, etc. This can reduce your stress and workload and allow you to focus on your strengths and gifts.
Utilize a broader range of gifts and experiences: Other Christians may knowledge, gifts, and experiences that you lack. For example, a new Christian may be able to relate more to the experiences or perspective of the non-Christians in your group. On the other hand, a more mature Christian may have additional insight into theology/ Scripture and how connects to The Chosen or everyday life.
Build a supportive and encouraging environment: There are times when you may feel discouraged or frustrated. If you've got a team of Christians, you can support and encourage one another. For example, you can pray for each other and for your non-Christian group members, you can give feedback and advice to each other, and you can celebrate together when you see God at work.
Invite non-Christians or the unchurched to watch The Chosen
Non-Christians aren't going to appear out of nowhere. For outreach to happen, you need to reach out to specific people and invite them to join your group. Depending on your context and preferences, you may want to invite people who are already friends or acquaintances or you may want to reach out to neighbors you haven't met or strangers. You may want to invite people who are actively interested in Christianity or people who are indifferent or hostile to it. You may want to invite people who have a Christian background or people who have never set foot in a church building.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it helps to keep the purpose of your group in mind when inviting people. Of course, you also need to be attentive to God's Spirit and what he may be prompting you to do, even if that doesn't fit into your preconceived plan.
Some possible ways to invite people are:
Personal invitation: Ideally you (and other Christian participants in the group) will reach out to people in your existing networks of relationships: neighbors, friends, co-workers, classmates, family members, etc. Pay attention to the types of shows, movies, books, podcasts, etc. that your friends are into and try to invite people who might actually be interested. You also might want to share about The Chosen organically in your conversations and pay attention to who seems interested.
Church Announcement: Tell the members of your church about what you're doing, either during your worship service or in a church email or bulletin. Encourage church members to reach out to their friends and neighbors and invite them. You could put all the details on a physical invite or an electronic pdf/image and ask people to pass it on to any friends they have who are interested.
Social media: If you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, NextDoor, or other platforms, you can use them to reach out to people intrigued by The Chosen. This method might be particularly apt if you're planning on hosting your discussion online through Zoom or Google Spaces. Note: I wouldn't put too much confidence in an impersonal social media invite as an avenue for outreach. There's a lot out there in social media land and most people aren't going to be interested in an invite that isn't tied to a specific relationship and a concrete invitation. Still, if it won't take much effort, it doesn't hurt to try.
Create a welcoming environment
Once you have invited people to join your group, you need to create a welcoming environment for them. You want them to feel comfortable, accepted, and valued as you watch and discuss The Chosen together. You also want them to enjoy the experience and look forward to coming back.
Some tips for creating a welcoming environment are:
Choose a suitable location: Depending on your preference and availability, choose a location that is convenient, accessible, comfortable, and conducive for watching and discussing a show. In most cases, a home will work best. Unless you need to, avoid using a church building, since it may alienate some potential members . Make sure the location has enough space, seating, big enough screen, etc. for your group.
Prepare a meal: Eating together creates a powerful bond. You can prepare food yourself, divide up the task between group members, or order something simple like pizza. Eat before or after watching the episode.
Do introductions: During your first meeting, create space for everyone to introduce themselves, their interests, and their relationship to Christianity. When someone new joins your group for the first time, make sure you introduce yourself and others in the group. Icebreaker questions or games are a great tool for breaking the ice.
Be respectful and courteous: As you watch and discuss The Chosen with your non-Christian participants, be respectful and courteous of their beliefs, interests, feelings, and opinions. Don’t interrupt, criticize, or mock them. Don’t pressure, judge, or condemn them. Don’t debate or lecture them. Focus on listening to people. Seek to validate their questions, concerns, and experiences, even if you disagree with their conclusion and beliefs. Ask questions and pursue greater understanding. Respect peoples boundaries and what they are ready to discuss.
Make your discussion of The Chosen organic
After watching an episode of The Chosen, you will want to discuss it together as a group. If you want specific discussion questions, you can check my earlier post for content suggestions. However, for an outreach group, I suggest using a less structured approach. Ideally, you want your discussion to be organic and authentic - not dictated by a pre-existing discussion guide.
To get the conversation going, you can ask your group general questions: what they liked or disliked about the episode, what surprised or challenged them, what they learned or wondered about Jesus, how they related to the characters or situations, and how they felt while watching. Listen attentively and respectfully to their responses, and avoid interrupting or correcting them. Show genuine interest and curiosity in their perspectives, and try to build off of what they share.
You can also share your own thoughts and feelings about the episode, but don’t dominate the conversation or preach at them. You can talk about how the episode impacted your faith or relates to your own experiences, but don’t make it sound like you have all the answers. You may also want to share some relevant Scripture - just make sure you are sensitive to the amount of biblical knowledge that your group members have. Focus on sharing things that will invite a response and generate an ongoing conversation.
Avoid or explain Christian jargon
As you watch and discuss The Chosen, you may find yourself using Christian jargon ("Christianese") that your non-Christian group members will struggle to understand and relate to. Even simple words like sin, grace, repentance, salvation, or the gospel may be unfamiliar to non-Christians. Even if they have heard the words before, unchurched people often have misconceptions about what the Bible teaches about these concepts. Those false assumptions can cause them to misunderstand what you're saying.
Here are some practical tips when it comes to Christianese:
Use simple and common language: Instead of using Christian jargon, try to use a more common phrase that everyone can understand. For example, instead of saying “Jesus wants us all to repent” you could say “In response to his love, Jesus invites us to choose a new way of life.”
Explain the meaning and context of words: If you want your group members to understand an important biblical concept, offer a clear explanation of what it means and connect that definition to what you've watched in The Chosen. For example, if you use the word grace, you could say “Grace means God’s undeserved favor and kindness toward us. In this episode of The Chosen, we saw how Jesus showed grace even when Simon didn't deserve it.”
Ask for feedback and questions: If you realize you've been using a lot of Christian jargon, ask your non-Christian participants if they understand what you mean. In some cases, you may want to invite them to share their thoughts and feelings about a controversial word or phrase. For example, if you end up talking about sin, you may want to ask, “When you hear the word 'sin,' what comes to mind? What do you think that word means?”
Be authentic and vulnerable
One of the most attractive and powerful aspects of The Chosen is that it shows Jesus and his followers as authentic and vulnerable people. The disciples are not perfect or pretentious; they are real and relatable. They have flaws and failures, doubts and fears, joys and sorrows. They are honest and open about their struggles, hopes, and dreams.
As you watch The Chosen, you can reflect this same authenticity and vulnerability. You don’t have to hide your struggles or fake your emotions. You don’t have to impress them with your knowledge of the Bible or your spirit achievements. Just be honest and human.
Being authentic and vulnerable with non-Christian can help:
Build trust and rapport: When you are honest about your struggles, it shows that you are not condescending or judgmental and that non-Christians can trust you with their questions, doubts, weaknesses, and grief.
Model the true nature of faith: Faith is not about being perfect; it's about having relationship with a perfect Savior. Vulnerability helps non-Christians see that the church is not a club for the morally upright and spiritually strong; it's a refuge for the weak and the broken.
Develop deeper relationships: By being authentic and vulnerable with non-Christians, you will cultivate a sense of community in your group. Members of your group will feel a deeper sense of connection and belonging, because your group will feel like a place where people can be truly known.
I hope this blog post helps you in your efforts to reach out to non-Christians and the unchurched using The Chosen. If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvement, please let me know in the comments below!
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An adaptation like The Chosen isn't meant to replace the Bible; it's meant to drive us deeper into the Bible and spiritual reflection. The creators of The Chosen have published interactive Bible Studies that are meant to explore some of the Scripture and biblical themes that inspired the show and help viewers apply them to everyday life.
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If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)
The Chosen Season 4
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Thomas & Ramah in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Yussif, Jairus, & Shmuel in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Quintus, Gaius, Atticus, and the Romans in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Pontius Pilate & his Wife in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: Ears to Hear
Episode 8 Guide: The Feeding of the 5,000
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara
The Chosen Controversies Series
Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]
Episode 1: What do we do when we are scared?
Episode 2: What is Shabbat for?
Episode 3: Who is Jesus?
Episode 4: What kind of man are you?
Beyond The Chosen
The Chosen: 9 Good Friday & Easter Episodes ***Season 3 Update***
Other Bible Adaptations
Recap & Review: His Only Son