THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS IN A NEW FORMAT SPARKS INTEREST AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE
How can young people be inspired to take an interest in the content of one of the New Testament’s most intellectually demanding books? Many enthusiastic people, dedicated employees and local BCC churches have joined forces to achieve this. Since New Year’s, BCC youth over the whole world have gathered in Bible study groups to read and study the biblical texts in Hebrews.
By Johanne Reiersrud – Photo by Lida Lukashuk
It is an innovative project, which delivers the Gospel through short animated films, quizzes and weekly studio broadcasts, and has succeeded in arousing interest among the young people. Combined with the heavy involvement of local study groups, this initiative has meant that this interesting book in the Bible has gained thousands of new readers, both in Norway and in many other countries.
BCC’s media department has faced new challenges
These are busy weeks in the basement of BCC’s main office in Oslo where the production team for the Hebrews project has been working intensively for the past few months. Drawings are created, films are animated and edited, manuscripts are written, and the weekly live broadcasts are planned. The project will continue until the Easter Camp for the youth in April, where a huge film and stage production will wrap up this period with Bible studies for all the participants.
“The aim of this project is to inspire 15-year-olds to spend time reading in Hebrews, delving into and understanding it,” says Arve Solli. He is one of the producers and for the past several months, he has put all his creativity into solving this challenge, together with his colleague Hans Georg Bertelsen.
“We simply want to help the youth to read and understand the Bible, and from there begin to think and reason about what these topics mean for them personally,” says Hans Georg Bertelsen.
They work full time on the production, with four other employees in the BCC media department. It includes, among other things, a short film for each of the 13 chapters in the letter. Everything is translated and subtitled in eight languages so that the content is understandable for all the youth groups participating.
“We had a couple of journalists from NRK [Norwegian TV Channel] visit the office one day. They watched one of the animated films and were very impressed with the quality,” says Bertelsen.
Extensive preparation of the content and script
But the employees at the head office are far from alone on the job. Since last summer there’s been several others working on a volunteer basis with content and manuscripts for the Hebrews project. These describes in detail both the Gospel and the symbolism which is repeated throughout the letter. There has been extensive work, which took many months before the film production could begin.
“A huge factor in the project’s success comes from these contributions,” says Arve Solli.” “The content being shared is well planned, and at a level that very young people can understand and become interested.”
People throw themselves into the online quizzes
In addition to the films, an audio book is made of all the Hebrews chapters, along with a webpage with quizzes on each chapter. Young people can also send in questions, and read answers to the other questions that have been submitted. So far, between 200 and 400 questions have been answered every single week, and the team had to get extra resources to handle the volume.
“People throw themselves into the quizzes when they are published every Friday at midnight. And we’re barely able to proofread everything before more questions or comments come in,” explains Bertelsen.
Live broadcasts capture interest
He is also the host of the weekly studio podcast, and each week he receives visits from informed guests. They discuss the weekly theme and share their knowledge of the Bible, with warmth and enthusiasm. There is always a good dose of humor in the studio, which makes it extra fun for the young viewers.
“We hope and believe this is a good format to convey God’s Word to this target group,” says Bertelsen.
We meet him right after the week’s live broadcast.
“It is both a planned and free format simultaneously. We must balance the different parts; it should be educational, but at the same time not too heavy, so we try to inject a bit of humor occasionally. We must connect with those are 15-16 years old,” he emphasizes.
An endeavor encompassing several generations
The effort has produced results, because now there’s young people in all parts of the world sitting and listening to the audio book, watching the animated films, following the studio conversations, and discussing the answers to the quizzes among themselves.
It has become an undertaking that brings together all generations; even though the target audience is the youth, both adults and elderly have also joined enthusiastically.
Many adults have welcomed different youth groups into their homes, bringing together both young and old, experienced and novice readers alike. There is always something to learn, something more to get out of this text, the book with the unknown author. A book characterized by many as a concentrated, complete description of the whole Gospel.
This engagement will continue up until the youth Easter Camp in April, and we will return with more updates here on bcc.no.
Markus and Mette are both a part of the project and collaborate on drawings and animation. Photo by BCC