Tag Archives: hell

Doctrine, Education and Discipleship

I read this post by John Koessler yesterday.

In it he claims that those who attacked Rob Bell‘s new book, “love wins” (and I don’t use the term lightly) were right to do so.

“the general message seemed to be that anyone who would be disturbed by possibility that Rob Bell denies the literal nature of hell must have too much time on his hands. Don’t Jesus’ followers have better things to do than to dispute such things?”

He then finishes his post with the following statement:

“I know. It sounds “old school.” It seems “ungenerous.” But what can I say. It’s what the Bible says. Unpleasant as it sounds, doctrine does matter. And no, we really don’t have better things to do.”


I agree doctrine is important (as a way of understanding and articulating what it is that we do or do not believe) but to say that we really don’t have better things to do?

That doctrine is the be all and end all.

Did Jesus really spend all his time making sure the disciples understood everything perfectly?

Wasn’t one of Jesus’ issues with the pharisees that they put too much doctrine on people? Jesus attacked them for focusing too much on right belief.

“Love the Lord your God with all you heart, all your mind, all your body and all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself.”

“Faith, hope and love. but the greatest of these is love”.

The greatest commandment is to love. love God. Love people.

The greatest commandment is not too make sure your doctrine is all nice and neat.

In one of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus congratulates them on rooting out false teaching but convicts them because, as a result of this heresy hunting, they have forgotten what it means to love people.

Rob Bell

Image by feyip via Flickr

Yes, critics had the right to read Bell’s book and criticize it but is that really the most important thing? The things above all else?

As a youth worker in a church, I ‘m realizing more and more that young people struggle with doctrine. they struggle with right beliefs. they get bored by it. we can load them up with all the right info and teaching but does that really do anything?

Isn’t it time we move past simply making sure young people know the right doctrine and instead help them experience faith.

experience God. Walk with them.

Discipleship should be more than teaching.

teaching should be the end bit.

Here is a short animated video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about education.

Yes the video focuses on state education but christian education should be no different.

Let us move away from pouring knowledge about God into our young people and instead, help them to get to know God.

Youth Work Media Resource1

Over the years I’ve made a number of little short films.

Many of these I have used with youth groups to spark discussions.

And I wanted to make them available for other groups to use.

Included here is an embed to the short film and some basic discussion questions. If you would like a ‘hard’ copy of the films then please message me and I can get one done for you. The cost would be £5 and all funds would go towards making another short.

Short film #1- “Shore”

A man awakes alone on a beach, haunted by a figure in black.

For me, the film deals with a number of themes including hell and the choices that we make in life. The character in the film commits an act that haunts him for eternity. He becomes trapped in his own personal hell because of the guilt and shame that has built up.

Questions for discussion

1) Have you ever felt the way the man in the film does?

2) Where do you think the man is? Is he in hell? What is hell to you?

2) What kinds of things do you feel guilty about?

3) Do you struggle to forgive yourself for these things? Why/ Why not?

4) Do you think God can forgive you for these things?

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Creative Response

1) Fill a large jar with water and have a number of small soluble tablets. Ask the young people drop the tablets into the water and watch them dissolve, explain to them that this is just like God forgiving the bad things they have done.


2) The rocket confessional on proost

an interactive flash confession created by Jon Birch. Type in your confession and watch as it is launched into space and be absolved.

What’s all this about Hell?

This morning, the youth group will be discussing the lighthearted issue of Heaven and Hell…using Luke 16: 19-31 as our reference.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[c] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

I’ve always loved this story as it gives food or thought on the old, “well if you don’t believe in Jesus before you die, you’re going to hell”. That’s not the message that Jesus is pushing in this little story. But on reading it again (and again) I wonder if Jesus is really talking about hell (the place) at all. At the start of the chapter Jesus is telling a story about wealth and how you can’t serve God and money. He then follows it with a couple of strange laws, which don’t make a lot of sense to me at the minute (but that’s not the point right now.)

He then goes into the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. At this moment he is talking to a group of pharisees who love money (v.14). The parable he tells about hell is about a rich man and a poor man. Maybe, Jesus is using the story to get at the pharisees for their love of money, not to give a doctrine of an eternal hell. That it is simply a way of saying:

“your actions towards others have eternal significance. By holding back your money you are bringing ‘hell’ to this poor man”.

There is also the question of what does Jesus mean when he uses the word hell in this parable? The greek word is Hades which closely resembles the hebrew world sheol (meaning grave). In Jewish faith, the righteous and unrighteous all go to sheol. It is the place of waiting before entering paradise. Many Jewish Rabbis believe that sheol is not a place where you would stay indefinitely, but more a place of shame where you repent for your mistakes and eventually enter paradise (similar in some way to the catholic view of purgatory). Sheol can also mean a present reality where you are out of step with God’s will so whenever we ‘sin’, we enter sheol until we repent.

So, maybe the question to ask ourselves from this chapter isn’t, “what can I learn about hell?” but “in what ways do my actions bring about hell for other people and how can I bring about heaven for them instead?”

In what ways am I blocking Heaven from reaching people?

Trailer for My New Film is Online!

morning all.

The trailer for my latest short film (running time approx 30 mins) is now up online. watch it below or in glorious HD here…now. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

if you’re interested, you can also check out photos from the shoot here.

the concept of ‘grace’ is something that has interested me for awhile.

How big is God’s grace?

Can anyone, no matter what they have done, repent and enter Heaven?

These are the questions that inspired me to make this film…but don’t let that put you off. It’s the biggest budget film I’ve ever made and the first with a crew. It was a lot of fun but very challenging as well. We will premiere the film in Glasgow during the Summer.

Watch this space for further info.