Pastor Jamie George is one of the top experts in reaching the millennial generation. His deep desire as a spiritual leader is to help others form deep, personal connections with God and community – a desire many millennials unconsciously echo. As a published author, church planter, professor and father, Jaime has spent his life learning the depth of God’s passion for salvation. His firm conviction is that “God’s story is not a condemnation story, but an adventurous, love story” whose beginning and end are found in Christ.
Sonoma Christian Home caught up with Pastor Jamie George, Founder and Leader of The Journey Church in Franklin, TN – home of the Integrity Worship Band, All Sons & Daughters. SCH Contributor Sarah Philpott reports on the power of the narrative, the millennial response to A.D., and God’s ability to use people in spite of brokenness.
SCH: Jamie, after watching the series, tell us some of your reflections on A.D.: The Bible Continues overall?
JG: I’ve loved it for multiple reasons. What I’ve appreciated most about A.D. are two things:
Number one, the quality and level of professionalism. I live in Nashville, so I live in a town full of artists. There is a heightened sensitivity to creating art, but I appreciate the fact that [Mark Burnett and Roma Downey] created art with such high standards and expectations. This piece was done with such quality. There is a deep appreciation in communicating something with great Christian values that relates to the center of our faith. And that scripture could be done with so much professionalism. That first and foremost has been inspiring.
Secondly, the way they’ve captured the story. Of course anytime you are trying to fill in the blanks with a narrative we don’t have, you have to take this liberty to try to develop characters and that sort of thing. What I’ve appreciated is they’ve created great storylines that have at least helped us stir the pot and ask questions about some of the central characters of the crucifixion and resurrection like Peter and Pontius Pilate and Mary.
I love the way they have developed the characters. Of course whether or not the characters played out like that, it has helped bring the humanness to these people – who many of us who have grown up in the church have read about over and over again. After a while these stories can become dull and very two-dimensional. A.D. has breathed life into the narrative. That has been deeply meaningful for all of us.
SCH: Could you tell us how you envision A.D. as being a priceless teaching tool to reach the millennial generation?
JG: I think this generation, in particular, responds much better to narrative and responds much better to questions than it does to a top down hierarchical, “This is what I’m telling you to believe” and “I’m right, you’re wrong, so just listen to me.” The truth is, I don’t think it is just millennial. I think it is across the board – but millennials certainly lead the way. The idea of positional authority is less and less a reality in their world.
And for a good reason, because lots of people in positions – whether it is politics or religion or other aspects of world leadership – have shown hypocrisy or inconsistency. So, credibility is found in consistency and it’s found in vulnerability. It is really hard to find people who are honest about their brokenness. I think for A.D. to capture these stories and highlight the brokenness (of the people we call saints) has been very meaningful. Because it helps you go “Aw, man these people are jacked-up! They are a mess! And, wait a minute, God has used them to carry the storyline forward?”
I think that has been very meaningful to millennials and certainly to folks in our congregation.
SCH: What has been your congregations’ response to A.D.?
JG: Just an overall excitement! The things I’m speaking of, that I value, they would reiterate. The sense of professionalism, the narrative, the questions, the drama, the humanness, people feeling real and not two-dimensional. People with brokenness, and in spite of their brokenness, being used. Maybe not used until they are broken! It certainly has been a theme with Peter and the others.
SCH: Can you tell us about a personal encounter with a viewer coming to you with questions after watching A.D.?
JG: I’ll give the one closest to home. My daughter. We are sitting there and she is asking me questions. And she is eight years old and she was saying, “Now, is this a real place?” and “Are those real people?”
And I said, “Yes, these people are real and yeah, Israel is a real place.” She’s a perfect example of pulling this from the stories.
I think sometimes what we focus on is, “here is the devotional” and “here is the virtue” and “here is the life lesson we learn from scripture. Here is the value.”
But the truth is people pull life lessons and values out of business book or Aesop’s fables. What makes the Bible different? One of things I’ve been trying to communicate to my nine-year old is that these are real people. And this is how God chooses to show his love to the world through people who don’t get it right. And then try to have a conversation about Grace.
Of course, with a nine-year old that is always interesting! And to enter this conversation about “Isn’t this amazing? The great and merciful surprise is that we get into heaven not because we did it right but because we’ve done it wrong.” There is a wonderful line from Richard Rohr that captures it, “In our brokenness we are redeemed.”
SCH: That is a wonderful line and does brings the fullness of what this television series has brought to life. All of us at Sonoma Christian Home are in awe at this show and we’ve only gone through the first ten chapters of Acts!
SCH: There is so much more history and so much to learn about Christianity in the rest of the Bible. I’m prayerful that we can go beyond these 10 chapters.
JG: Absolutely! Yes, there is this hope. I’ll tell you how it has affected our congregation. We’ve got quite a few young folks. We meet in an old factory. A lot of folks who have joined us have been burned by the church or abused by religion. In a lot of ways they are finding their way back or they have never been churched. And it has prompted a conversation about church history. In January we said, “Let’s spend the year on church history.” Let me tell you, it’s been twenty-something years since I was in college!
This is a little daunting. But we’ve spent the last seven months going through church history and studying people like St. Patrick. Patrick was the first missionary to take the gospel to an unreached people group. And to go back through St. Francis. To go back to some of these church fathers who have sometimes been misrepresented. To climb into things like the Crusades. Which is not a pleasant part of church history, but to continue on from Acts.
Mark, Roma keep on going! There is so much still to be understood about the church’s legacy. Both the good and the bad.
SCH: Jamie, thank you so much for connecting with our community at Sonoma Christian Home. It has been an absolute pleasure.
JG: Thank you, I’ve enjoyed the conversation.
Don’t miss the last episode this Sunday at 9/8c on NBC!
For more on this incredible show, check out the links below: