Episode 275: Randy Frazee explains why he rewrote the Bible

0:00:00 - Rusty George
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Following Jesus isn't always easy, but it's not complicated. Join us each week as we work to make faith simple. This is Simple Faith. Randy Frazee, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. You have done a lot of things. You've been an author, are an author pastor, lead different organizations in the city, in the country. Give us the wiki page on yourself. Tell us a little bit about you.

0:01:29 - Randy Frazee
Hey, let's start with First Things First Ready. Okay, go Chiefs, go Chiefs.

0:01:31 - Rusty George
That's right. Land of the free, the home of the Chiefs.

0:01:34 - Randy Frazee
Exactly right. You know I've been a lead pastor or a teaching pastor for 34 years, now coming on 35. I did 16 years at a Pintuga Biola Church in Arlington, texas. I did three years as a teaching pastor at Willow Creek in Chicago. I did 10 years as a lead pastor in San Antonio, Texas, Oak Hills Church and then the last five and a half years I've been the lead guy at Westside Family Church in Kansas City, where you're from, and about five years in I met up with one of my heroes, a guy named Lyle Schaller and a really sociologist, one of the few, and my professor from seminary invited me to a lunch and that led to writing my first book called the Comeback Congregation, and then from there I just been writing.

So I was 32 years old when I published my first book. It sold not very many copies but it was a good book. You know, just so. You know how that goes because you're an author yourself and then got into the community space, and then the community space, neighborhood space, spiritual formation space, and then sort of then shifted to the Bible engagement space, which is, you know, my sort of forte, the thing that's really given me the most traction, but I also love in loving neighboring I also then leads to a neighbor neighboring scales. It leads to city movements, and so I've led city movements in San Antonio and most robustly in Kansas City, and so that's kind of my little wiki page thing?

0:03:10 - Rusty George
Yeah, one of those things was getting 100 churches to participate in Ramsey's momentum.

0:03:16 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, we've done several city movement things that are engagement strategies. So you know, a lot of times they are other things, but I really do engagement things. So one of them was called Margin, where we took the Financial Peace University with. You know it's a nine week program. We designed a 10 week sermon series on top of that so that the whole church would be encouraged to go through the Financial Peace University to try to create Margin in their life.

We did a 10 week series five weeks on Making Room for Life, which you're familiar with, on finding Margin in your time, and then five weeks on finding Margin in your money, and we recruited 110 churches to do that. At the end of the nine weeks there was 80 to 90, 80 200 credit cards cut up. There was a $4.7 million of cash saved. There was $17.7 million of debt reduced, 86% of the couple saying having better conversations about finances, which is the number one predictor of divorce, and a year later that total number went to 80 million. And, by the way, that that we did that in November, right before COVID hit. So some people said you are a prophet and I reminded them. I lead a nonprofit ministry.

0:04:32 - Rusty George
So you're a not for profit. Okay, I want to drill down on community, mainly for my own interest. I love this space. It's where I first got introduced to you from the book the Connecting Church, and you were talking in that book about, I think and I think last time I talked to you, your wife even references meeting where there was a Bible class you were in or a Bible study, a small group perhaps, and maybe some of you were talking about how you don't even really know the people in your small group. There's no community being built. You're just getting together, going through the questions and that's it. And it sparked something for you that there should be a different way to do this. Talk about just the normal way churches do small groups versus what you decided you wanted to try to do.

0:05:16 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, really dynamic thing. I became a pastor at 28 Pentego Bible Church and the goal was to get the worship rocking. And then the second thing was to get people to in community, get them into small groups. So we follow the traditional small group route get in with the group of people you like, get in with people that are your same age, and so, rosanne, I had never had really great experiences with small groups, and so we said I told Rosanne, I said I actually did this. I went to my team as a young pastor and I said it's compulsory you have to be in a small group or I will fire you. And you got to do it. And so I went home and told Rosanne. She said you should have talked to me.

We don't like small groups and so we said well, maybe the reason we don't like our small group is that we haven't been careful in who we selected. So we literally selected the prettiest people in the church, the wealthiest people in the church, the smartest people in the church. We were the most spiritual people in the church and then we left one open couple for the open chair concept and we started to get together and of course, we had very little in common with people who are wealthy, good looking and smart, and so it turned out that we only got together once a week and then it went to once every other week and we just found that we just had. Really, we didn't live in the same neighborhoods, obviously we didn't live in the wealthiest people's neighborhood, and so we just found that it was an event. It was an event and statistically, a person that goes we'll start, it'll eventually drop out and a person will. Just so you say, how do you get out of one of those? And the question is is that when you're in an event driven small group, you just don't plan the next meeting and then no one can ever get their schedules back together again?

But at the same time we had a neighbor two doors down that had really wasn't a believer, wasn't going to church, he was a sales guy and he just had this gift of hospitality. And we started hanging out and Rosanne and I were driving to our small group one time and all the neighbors were out. He was cooking brats in the front yard and Rosanne said I don't wanna go to our small group. And I said we have to go or I'll get fired. And she said what if we made this our small group? And so that became the revelation for us that what if we would have, instead of going to our small group, we brought the small group right where we're at. And so I got into some pretty massive studies related to proximity and the value of that and what happens when you live in proximity. There's an opportunity for spontaneity, availability, frequency, and so those became the criteria for it.

And then you look at Acts, chapter 17,. It says that God planned ahead of time the time that you would live and the places you would live. And so wherever people are living right now, they thought it was maybe for the walk-in closet or because they got a divorce and now they're living in this crummy apartment. But God said there's a bigger story going on here. You're there by my design for the period of time. I have you there for a purpose and we have discovered all these years and that was 1986 is when we first discovered neighboring, and it was 1990 that we started shifting the entire church in that direction and it was a tough direction to go for people because the idea of loving your neighbor like your actual neighbor, it's like, wow, this is like where the rubber beets are out, but it's turned out to be. Roseanne is right now at a neighborhood gathering out on the cul-de-sac, right now in Kansas City.

0:08:47 - Rusty George
Okay. So let's make this practical, because I hear, okay, it's one thing to hang out in the front yard with brats. It's another thing to sit in somebody's room with Bibles in your lap talking about the sermon on Sunday or the latest Bible study book that you're doing. How do you blend those two? What's that look like?

0:09:02 - Randy Frazee
Yeah. So the idea is that neighboring you identify a neighborhood. There's most neighborhoods have a definition for what their neighborhood is. They have a name for it, so that becomes the name of the identity, and it's a concept where evangelism, recreation, discipleship all overlap. Someone says is it about evangelism or discipleship? The answer is yes, and so typically what you do is you ideally find three other households to start a traditional sort of small group and that becomes sort of the anchor of the neighborhood. But then, because you're in proximity, you do life with everybody and the house is in between those three. So I typically will.

I like golf, so I typically live in a place where people golf or on a golf course, and so I golf with the believers who golf, I golf with the people who are seekers who golf, and so that world is always constantly intermixing. But the very core of the neighborhood is what looks like a fairly traditional small group, except you don't see each other. Just when you come to small group. You see each other in the spaces in between. Hey, when you're going out for a walk, when you're walking your dog, when you're taking out the trash, you're just seeing each other along the way, and some of those are the more dynamic opportunities, and so there's many times when we'll have a last minute dinner and it's kind of like, hey, you want to come over for dinner and it's like walking next door, and so there's just a lot more.

So when you look at Acts chapter two, we love to study Acts chapter two, but one of the things Americans always miss is that they gather together daily. So, americans, we want the same impact of Acts chapter two, but we want to put about 1, 7th to 1, 14th of the energy into it. So I don't know how you do life with people who live all over the place. I don't see how you pull it off, and so we've just accepted that sovereignly. God has put people into our neighborhood that are going to be life-giving to us. Some suck the life from us and others are neutral, but we just feel like this is where God called us. Many people today and we do it, certainly do this now are super intentional.

They're super intentional of identifying a handful of families and they actually move into a neighborhood together, and I was just talking to a family that have lived in the neighborhood in Kansas City for 23 years now and this one particular guy had just got massively successful but he chose not to move out. He put they didn't have a community pool so he bought the lot next to him and he personally built the neighborhood pool. So he had the money but he wasn't going to leave the relationships.

0:11:44 - Rusty George
Fascinating. Okay, so that's Connecting Church. The next book changed my life. I, they both did. But Making Room for Life dealt more with your own personal struggle with. You were living an unsustainable pace. You were taking melatonin before everybody was taking melatonin just to be able to sleep.

You weren't sleeping well, you were addicted to fluorescent lights. I remember all the stories in the book and it really does talk about our pace of life. I mean, goodness, that came out 20 years ago, 2005,. Yeah, it's only gotten worse. So talk to our listeners a little bit about some of the things you put into place to create margin in your time.

0:12:23 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, first of all, no one ever taught me about balance and rhythms and any of that you know. And so, as a young pastor, just like some of your listeners, you know you're eager, you're young, you're trying to make a go of things, trying to pay the bills, and so I was very ambitious and I just, I just didn't have any boundaries and I just worked. I got breakfast at six in the morning, put the kids to bed, went back to work and I felt like I just had more energy than everyone else. Woke up one day, went to bed one night at the age 39 and couldn't sleep, didn't sleep at all throughout the night. That went on for 40 days no sleep at night. I would doze during the day, but never that deep REM sleep.

And so not only did you get irritable, but anxiety, depression starts to set in. You think you're going crazy. So I got myself into a crisis, went to the doctor and the doctor said well, you can move to Borneo, everyone sleeps in Borneo. And I thought really, I'm like, check out one way tickets to Borneo, I'm just kidding Randy. And he said secondly, you're gonna, medicine's gonna be the trick. And so I shifted from, I shifted to Ambien. Oh, okay, and that actually does work, but it's either physically addictive or at least emotionally addictive. But a lot of people. He said you're gonna have to do it for at least a month, and I think I did it for three. And then he said, well, or the other thing you could do is no, you won't be able to do that. I'm like, tell me what it is. He says, well, you're a pastor and there's just no way you can pull this off. But he said but if you were to really get religious about working during the day and being with your family and friends at dusk and then going to bed at the same time every night and sleeping, he said, if you were to get really good at that, your body may heal.

And so I went back to the scriptures and went into Genesis chapter one. And if Genesis chapter one has all of the rhythms that are there, you're just not looking for them. One of the biggest ones is that after God finishes each day, he says and there was evening and morning the first day. It's like no, I should say and there was morning and evening the first day. Well, in the Hebrew life, the day begins at dusk the day before, and whatever's first in Hebrew is the most important thing, the first fruit offerings.

So I constructed for my doctor's opinion advice the Hebrew day planner where everybody in the family has from 6 am to 6 pm for work, whatever that work may be homework, church work, whatever it might be you don't have to work that, but that's the allotted time. Half of your day, from six to 10, is everything gets put down. You enter into an evening of unrushed, typically centered around a meal, an unrushed meal. You do not go back to work and then you try to go to bed at the same time for, like me, 10 o'clock, for others it could be nine and you go to bed at 10 o'clock and your body will start to work. So the Hebrew day planner is the pattern that I started living and it took about two years to get my body healed and back in. Now today I sleep between eight and nine hours a night with no medication.

I've been more productive in this season of my life than I've ever been when I had no boundaries and the best thing of all, my relationship with God, my relationship with my wife of coming up on 42 years, my kids and the deep sea of relationships that I have, particularly with my neighbors, has never been better.

So I just cannot but recommend this to people, and particularly young families that are listening, that have all of these kids and you're thinking. The best thing you could do to prove you're a good parent, particularly before they hit junior high, is to sign them up for all these sports when it's run by volunteers at night, not during after the school, and they're skipping meals together. If my four kids were here today, which are now 39, down to 31, they would say the number one thing that they remember growing up in our family were the dinners at night. Hmm, and all the research, columbia University particularly says if you want to do, the one thing you could do to prevent premarital sex, drugs, alcohol, gang involvement is to have five Dinners with your family a week and people go. That's just impossible. The reason it's impossible is because you've not had your bout of insanity yet. So I did all this not out of vision, I did this primarily to go back to sleep. Yeah right.

0:16:42 - Rusty George
That's amazing. What's funny about that study is it doesn't even say it has to be good food. Yeah, that's exactly right, it's gonna be healthy. No, no, I do I do?

0:16:52 - Randy Frazee
it is. But what you'll find, Rusty, and this is, you know, you say, why we spend so much time on on around the table. Study the scriptures, you know. The gospel of Luke, you know, has nine occasions where Jesus is doing life around the table with people. It's the humanity of Jesus, and if you study the scriptures from beginning to end, you will see that the table is a big deal. Oh, you know, jesus set one of the main Ordinances around the table, right, and it wasn't the little cracker and the little juice, right, it was an actual meal that people enjoyed together. But what you'll find is that when people slow down and make that the priority, it's the first part of the day.

6 pm Is the first part of the day, it's the most important thing. It's not the thing that refuels you for tomorrow, it is your destination. And when you get that mindset, then it'll start to really work for you. And then you realize, well, you know, dinners are two-hour affairs. We're not going to sit around and unwrap a Taco Bell, right that we're gonna start. We're gonna start making more Healthy food which is gonna be a contributor to your overall health, sleep and so good vitality.

0:17:57 - Rusty George
Okay, so you go on the willow Creek and you start helping them shift from small groups to more of these neighborhood type of Groups. You develop a concept you referred to as the table group and that kind of thing. What? What was the, the thinking behind that? Was it tweaked at all? What did you develop there?

0:18:14 - Randy Frazee
Yeah. So when I went to willow, the idea was, you know, to apply the these timeless principles of loving your neighbor and community. You don't have to do it the way we did it at Pantigal. We did it the way we did in the fourth area Primarily because I inherited a church that had certain kinds of features to it, so this thing's got lots of design features to it, and so we're gonna do something different at willow, and so we we went in. They had already launched the neighboring, so I went in and started studying.

What was most successful and the most successful Gathering was a gal named Robin, like cap, who was in my neighbor it was in my, on my staff and and she was having a once a month Gathering with believers in her neighborhood where they went to willow or not, and they were sharing a meal together and then around the table they were talking about the other things that they would do in the neighborhood to really be present in the neighborhood. So they might do a movie night where they, you know, bring out the the movie in the driveway and watch the Bears game or probably not outside on the Bears game, maybe more of the Cubs game, and they might start a book club or something like that. And so we decided instead of it being a weekly gathering. Just if believers would get together intentionally once a month around a meal and then just begin to talk about what God might be calling them to do when meets to serve, then maybe serve an elderly couple, or maybe it's to start a Card night, you know, or bags tournament, or fourth of July or a Halloween thing, and and you just start developing a sense of neighboring. You know you can do a block party and so you just do things based upon the giftedness of the people in the group and let that once a month thing not overtake, so that all your margin is not spent with Believers but that you have enough time intentionally to sort of develop relationships with neighboring.

We we launched it, Rusty, and it was actually a mistake, but we launched it. They were so hungry for this that 7,750 some people signed up on the first Wednesday night. That's a bit. It's a bit overwhelming, something commercial. They start the business and they start to see a couple people buy and then it goes out of control. They're like we're in trouble. So it did go too fast and and overall the for the church it was a failed experiment. I only stayed there three years, but today I still get emails of people that are still living and loving their neighbor in a very wonderful way.

0:20:45 - Rusty George
Okay, so let's fast forward, because you're doing neighboring through West Side family outside of Kansas City. What do those look like? How is your strategy? Tweaked a little bit now at this, this kind of yeah, yeah.

0:20:57 - Randy Frazee
The beauty is is that, again, it needs to be, needs to be designed for with local knowledge. So there's is not one particular Exact right thing, but there are driving principles like. One of the principles is Is that community? You know there's three people, there's 12 people, you know there is 150 people, so there's a sociological grouping that you're actually looking for. So you follow some basic general principles proximity is important thing, mission is important thing.

So at West Side Family Church, what we are doing is that we have we have three campuses and we've identified the elementary schools around each of the campuses and Then we have establishing, we are establishing what's called an area community, which we have recruited a Couple in our church, a man and a woman, so that both the male and the female can, and we pay them a part-time salary, almost like a stipend, and they become the shepherds of that, those neighborhoods that are surrounding an elementary school. And then they'll go and identify About five or six, because there's five or six neighborhoods around each elementary school. They call them. They call them neighborhood captains, that they're just going to help them, you know, with different things. Then we establish for that level of community, which we want it to be, a hundred and fifty, then we need to do something. We establish a sense of mission. The primary mission we focus on is the elementary school. So we have partnerships With the national organization that helps us to get into the school and primarily focuses on mentoring. But then we do a lot of organic stuff related to the elderly. We have a very intentional wrap around community for fostering and adoption wrap around community to support them.

And so there's the mission aside of there but with inside of these Area communities, and we start little small groups, these believers, and so we call them a two groups out of acts, chapter two, and they're really focused on three things Belonging, so the sense of your known and your loved, growing you are. That's where your spiritual formation, connection, oftentimes connected back to the main campus, is that but? And then serving, that you're going to serve. So we say it at Westside loving Jesus, becoming like Jesus and sharing Jesus, and so we put that and then we drop into it several other things. We have a trained Stevens ministers that are in there. We have traditional deacons in this church, so we have about 45, I think, deacons, and now they're sort of allocated geographically that handle official benevolence for us and so you can see, it's kind of an ecosystem, but it's all based upon proximity and allows people an entry point Into the church.

What you'll find is they'll come to the church services. Not everybody that's in the neighborhood comes to our church. We're completely celebratory of that but when they come to the church they'll find a place to sit. So they're they're experiencing worship. You know, real life is a big church. Westside's a big church, so oftentimes you can come and feel lonely in these churches, mm-hmm. So they find a place to sit. They'll serve together in the parking lot, they'll serve together in children's ministry. And we're just finding that that overlapping, which is one of the things you're trying to do in community Overlapping of community is really one of the missing pieces we're not getting enough. You know, in the book making room for life oh, I think my opening chapter is called crowded loneliness. People are all over the place but we're not going deep enough with any one group of people.

0:24:26 - Rusty George
And by deep I don't mean like we're studying the Greek and Hebrew, I'm talking about just time, you know, just time investment, yes, sure, Isn't it fascinating how, here we are post COVID, the things you were talking about on making room for life have only escalated, I mean, with the rise of social media. We all think we're connected and we're not. Yeah, but even you know, was it the uk that came out and they actually put a minister of loneliness on their cabinet because they can't figure out how to take away this epidemic people are feeling right now.

0:24:53 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, and it's not for a lack of knowledge. You know I was reading this stuff Rusty I was. I started doing my research back in the 80s and it's back when you had to order it and have it snail mail to you and I mean I read research that was telling us back then. It's telling us now and people aren't just paying attention.

They just don't see how it's possible, and it's literally killing them. Once that I quoted is that social isolation is as detrimental to your health, if not more detrimental than smoking. So I say, if you must smoke, for goodness sakes don't do it alone. Yeah, so that's a joke.

0:25:30 - Rusty George
I've used that joke many times.

0:25:32 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, I know it's a joke but it's a real deal. And when I suffered from my imbalance, my doctor told me which was insomnia. My doctor said it takes about 10 to 15 years of imbalance at the level that I had before your particular evil will emerge or raise its ugly head.

0:25:53 - Rusty George
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0:26:19 - Randy Frazee
Subsplashcom, okay back to our episode. So for me it was insomnia, for other people it's hypertension, it's going to be cancer. Cancer is primarily stimulated by stress and by imbalance, and so what's happening is that people are living this lifestyle and all of these things are emerging, but they, or their doctors, are not making the right connection back to the imbalance of their life. The problem is my imbalance started, you know, when I got out of seminary.

Maybe in seminary, but what happens is we start imbalancing our kids' life at five years of age on the soccer field, on the baseball field and I'm not against sports, but if you talk to, there's a documentary done by Pele, jerry Rice and Wayne Gretzky, and all three of them said parents, none of us were raised like you're raising your kids and none of your kids are going to be professional athletes because you're doing it all wrong. Let your kids be kids. So if I could just challenge, if I could, just I can't, I haven't been able to do it successfully. Now, if we're hand-pulled people, they've done it and they've been so grateful and their kids do turn out differently, they do. And if I could just say wake up, you're following the wrong guidebook, right?

0:27:35 - Rusty George
Yeah, that would be so great and usually if you start them that early, they grow to hate the sport anyway, they do the burnout you still.

0:27:43 - Randy Frazee
now you can just Google it. I had to order it and it's snail mail to me. But yeah, the predominance of kids that get to junior high when they're biologically ready and able to not only play the sport but do it connected to the school, so they can do it after school because the coach wants to get home to be with their family and they're getting paid for it, versus volunteers after dinner or during dinner. So that's why we eat, so we take our kids to all these sporting events and we're eating McDonald's and Taco Bell and Sonic or whatever in and out burger and it's just completely opposite and so, but the kids are burnt out before they even get there. So it's just backwards.

I remember when I was in Dallas, I got to be a good friends with a guy that played for the Cowboys and he got injured the first year or so, maybe the second year. So he's not a, he's not a Troy Aikman or something like that. But and I said to him, I said, did you play football in high school? He goes, no, I ran track. So what have you? Says well, I just you're allowed to show up to try out, and I tried out for the Dallas Cowboys and I made the team and I said really it goes.

And so the theory is and everyone will tell you this that you can't pull out what God didn't put in and this idea that your kid's gonna be a professional athlete. I just think that you should probably let someone really, really, really objective tell you that early on, your kid will find their way without you over-scheduling them in the early years. Let them be kids. And this is really a big challenge for boys right now. We have a boy crisis going on, if people haven't been aware of this, with Warren Farrell's book the Boy Crisis, leonard Sacks book Boys Adrift, and what's happening is that there's so much scheduling of boys right now that boys are not able to live that wild at heart dream and we have a boy crisis on our hands.

So all these things that you're doing. You're spending all this money and, by the way, you have to be fairly wealthy to do this. People, this is the thing families that are genuinely poor, lower middle class are having a better go of it because they don't have the money to do all these sports. And then you have to have a lot of money to do select sports, right? Yeah, you know why did I never play hockey when I was a little kid? Because we couldn't afford the gear.

0:30:03 - Rusty George
That's right. Yeah, we didn't have that at our school. Yeah, couldn't afford it. Okay, so let's get into the story. The story is a version of the Bible Is that the way you would say it? Or a re-purposing, I wouldn't say, of the Bible? But basically you rewrote the Bible. Why'd you feel like you need to do that, Randy? Well, I'm not the Holy Spirit, I'm just a Holy Spirit. Oh, there you go.

0:30:27 - Randy Frazee
No, no, I do have people when I travel on this. Some kid will come up to me and says, oh, you're the one who wrote the Bible.

0:30:35 - Rusty George
I go no, please stand back.

0:30:38 - Randy Frazee
No, I would call it a tool. There you go, I would call it a tool. The story is not the Bible, but the story is filled with scriptures and what it is technically it is an abridged chronology of the Bible. That's much better. It's an abridged chronology of the Bible. It's what it is and it has a distinct purpose, and one of the primary purposes not the only purpose is that it might lead you to have success, to actually access the real, full Bible. So it's not designed to be the Bible you bring to church forever and ever. It's designed to be a gateway for you to be able, by yourself, in community, to sit in church, to listen to a podcast and really have some idea of what this thing is.

It'd be like reading, like I liked, robert Ludlum's. You know Born Identity series. You know the Born series and you know very. You know 500 pages and very complicated and lots of characters and lots of study and intricacies of the different things. And what we do to, what we as pastors do to believers, is they come to church on a Sunday and we're speaking on. You know Ruth, chapter 2, habakkuk, chapter 1. Would you pick anything? It'd be like dropping into page 322 of a Robert Ludlum novel. It's like I have no idea, I have no context, and so we keep our people really infantile because they can't access it, because they don't know the story. If they knew the story then they could drive into Habakkuk, they could drop into Ruth, they could drop into you know Hebrews and go like I know where I'm at in the story, and then it opens it up for themselves. That's just. One of the goals of the story is to give people access to the Bible for themselves.

0:32:21 - Rusty George
Okay. So when you're sitting down to do this okay which I love the way you just explained it you're sitting down to figure out, all right, what's the greatest hits, what's the best of that we put together for the Bible, how did you decide what stays, what you leave out? I mean, obviously, numbers not needed, but the rest of it, leviticus, I mean, how did you decide?

0:32:43 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, great. Question One this is a trying to give people what we call a novel experience. So obviously for a really good, for new believers. But a novel experience meaning it reads like a story. It's a kind of book that you would take to the beach with you and read. We took out the chapters and the numbers, so it feel that way and what we're trying to do is to give you the arc of the story, the one story. So what we took out is repetition. Okay, we took out repetition. So a good example would be first and second.

First of all, the Bible is not organized as a. We're going to talk about that later today in the service. The Bible is not organized. It is a story, but it's not organized as a story. It's organized topically, not chronologically. So when you get to first and second Kings and you read about the end of the monarchy into the divided kingdom, which is hard enough to understand, you get into all these Kings. Then you turn the page, you read first and second chronicles and he says have we read about Jehovah Chin and Jehovah Kim before? Is this a common name? Like Bill and Ted, and you're like no, they're retelling the story. But first and second Kings tells the divided kingdom of the north and the south. First and second chronicles only talks about the Kings to the south, because that's where Jesus is going to come from. So we're not going to tell both of those stories. Deuteronomy is the second telling of the law, so we've already told it once, not tell it again.

Another thing we're looking for is chronology. For example, we took Job out. Now I love, I mean, job is one of the most profound books, but the purpose of the story is to. The purpose of the story is to give you the one story. We don't fully know where Job falls in the history of the story. He is a parenthetical story, as we call it. Some believe mostly leave somewhere around the time of Abraham, but his story is completely parenthetical, it's completely aside.

Now we did include stories like Esther, even though that's sort of a little bit parenthetical to the story. We could have bypassed it, but to be completely honest with you, we wanted to include some of the dynamic stories of women. So we included the story of Ruth, which I think is more critical to the chronology. Esther could have been left out because it's sort of a parenthetical thing again, but we felt it was really important to do that. But one of the beauties of the story is that when you mix it all up, you take David's sin, for example with Bathsheba, and then follow it up with the death, the murder of Uriah, which happens in what 2 Samuel 8, 9, 8, 9, over here in the historical, topical, historical books. Well, he writes this beautiful confession to God in Psalm 51, but it's in the middle of the Bible. So the novice to the scripture. To be honest with you, people in the church forever have never been able to see this. So what the story does is it brings Psalm 51 into 2 Samuel 8, 9 so that you're reading them together.

0:35:34 - Rusty George
How long did it take to put this together, from concept to turning it into the publisher? Once it goes to the publisher, it takes about eight years.

0:35:44 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, the original idea for this actually came from Zondervan, not me, and they brought it to the first edition to me as a finished project, and so that's important to state. I remember that yeah.

And when they brought it to me, I was looking for something like this and I thought I can build. The key was to build community around it, and we should talk about that, because that's the real thing that I did is that I built community around the tool, but what I discovered was that the chapters were imbalanced and they needed to change some things out, so we edited it to the story that we have today.

0:36:26 - Rusty George
Let's talk about the community side of it. How do you put that together?

0:36:28 - Randy Frazee
Yeah Well, here's the deal. There is a study done it would be one study of how to create a habit, how to break a habit, and the example would be if a person decides they want to quit smoking and they decide to do it on their own, their statistical chances of success are zero. I mean, it doesn't even get to 1%, wow. So now some people have been able to quit on their own, but statistically, when you take the aggregate of everybody who's tried, it doesn't get to even 1%. If you add an effective tool like a nicotine patch, it inches up to 5%. But if, with that effective tool, you surround it with community, it goes all the way up to 40%. The same thing is true with reading the Scriptures. I think that's why, 1 Timothy 4-13, we have this ancient practice to vote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching. And so the idea is, if we were to wrap community around it, people might be able to get through the Scriptures, because community provides accountability, community provides enhanced learning, and so those are the things you need to complete a daunting task like reading through the Bible. But the story makes it easier because it actually reads like a story, but it's still 31 chapters and so wrapping community around it. When the story first came out in 2005, Rusty, Zondervin had big hopes for it and by 2011, when we launched the story, it had sold 5,000 copies. In 2011, when we were launching it, and since then I think the number is now 7 million I think it's somewhere around there don't quote me on that of all the different products that center around this for children and students, and I think that you say what's the difference?

The difference is when done as a campaign, whether that campaign is a family or a small group or, ideally, an entire church, you're going to have greater levels of success. People in a church are going to complete the process. They're going to complete it and they're going to walk away with the first time ever and not just new believers, but sometimes people have been in church all of their life. If we were to put, if we were on a typical Sunday, go, okay, we're going to take the whole Sunday. It's open mic time. I'm going to walk down and it's not open mic. I'm going to put the microphone in front of you and I want you to tell me the story of the Bible. That would be embarrassing, man, but it's very doable. So that's the community piece.

0:39:06 - Rusty George
I mean, I love how that all ties together and I do believe, yes, with community it makes it so much better. I've noticed and I've taught through this once before. It's been 10 years. We're doing it again. I'm going back through the chapters and reading them which, by the way, whoever decided to put the timeline in there?

0:39:23 - Randy Frazee
brilliant. Yes, that was a revision.

0:39:25 - Rusty George
Yes, because I've been to Bible College and Seminary and I've never seen the timeline laid out like this. It is so, so helpful. But as a pastor and for any pastor who's listening to this right now, there's a lot to cover in a chapter. I mean chapter one. We get almost all the way through Genesis.

0:39:43 - Randy Frazee
I think it's one through 11.

0:39:44 - Rusty George
Yeah, and so I mean there's a big chunk, and then we got the whole story of Joseph and everything else going on in the next chapter. So there's all this stuff to cover. As a pastor who has to stand up and say something for 30 minutes about this week's chapter, how do you coach pastors on knowing which to zero in?

0:40:01 - Randy Frazee
on. Yeah, I said a couple of things. Number one, the beauty of the story. Like other things, it's an integrated study. So you don't want to just do the story sermons, you want your people involved in small groups and in personal studies. So there's an integration. There's two types of integration in the story. There is the educational integration, which is they're hearing a sermon, they are in a small group for dialogue and they're doing personal study. And then you want a familial, intergenerational integration where you have the adults, the students and the children. You add those dynamics together and people are not relying on your sermon as the whole meal. As a matter of fact, we encourage people can do it either way, but we encourage pastors to do the sermon on the back end of the people study, so that they're getting accustomed to reading the scripture for themselves, versus the pastor always giving them all of the hints.

I'm not a huge fan of small groups that simply study the pastor's sermon. I think it's okay for occasion, but it's leaving the people dependent upon the pastor's observation. I like to have the people wrestle with the scriptures individually, wrestle with an in-community, wrestle with their family, all on the same page, and then come to the service to hear what I have to say or whoever the teacher is Now with that said, no meaning it doesn't all fall on you. They're getting a lot of stuff before they come to your sermon. What I would say is two things. Number one, make sure that you are focusing in on what I call the upper and lower story.

The story has each of these 31 chapters has an overarching story of what God is trying to accomplish. That's what you're really teaching from the pulpit. Then you are taking and illustrating that through an example. You don't feel the awful to try to teach the whole thing. Remember, they've gotten a lot of other things.

There's some tools that are now available where you can actually show a part of the service. You can show an introductory artistic rendering of that particular chapter If you wanted the people to have an overview before you get up and give the sermon. We have artwork that's been buried into the story. It's in the student edition that many people use in the service to say okay, listen, I'm not going to be able to give you this all. You've already studied it, hopefully, but here's an overview of this chapter. One of it is the dry painting. The other is that magic marker art like they use for the Bible project. We were the first to do that. I really focus in on this thing called the upper story and focus in on an example and let all the other experiences fill in the gap Kind of illustrate it.

0:42:47 - Rusty George
That's great. Okay, well, this has been amazing. I do want to ask you about one thing that I know you're passionate about. Some of our listeners will be passionate about it as well. That is golf. You love golf, I do. You play a lot of golf. You've made a lot of friends with professional golfers. We're going to start a new podcast. Tell us about that.

0:43:07 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, I do like golf. I had the great fortune of, in San Antonio, living next door to a PGA professional by the name of Jimmy Walker. He won the 2015 tournament at PGA Championship, which is a major. I got to know him and through that I got to know a lot of other players. I've been the invocation for the Texas Golf Hall of Fame for 12 of the 13 years and got to learn and know about a lot of golfers. I just love the game and I'm at that stage of life where I really want to put my energy into something I'm passionate about.

A mentor of mine, a guy that I lean into a lot, came to me and said Randy, you would do a great job of interviewing golfers who are believers and really the top end golfers. He put the resources together, a lot of resources, so it's really going to be done well. It's going to really be promoted. It's called Faith in the Fairways. I'm getting ready to film that at the first 10 episodes and we're going to have an amazing lineup. You can listen to it as a podcast, but we're also going to turn it into a small group experience. You live on a golf course or you have a lot of people that are seeking God. They like golf, but they've never heard the stories of these people that they admire, like Bernard Glangerd and Scotty Schaeffler and Zach Johnson and those guys that are just living out their faith have incredible stories. You can have a little small group experience maybe for believers and seekers explorers, and show them this podcast and hopefully it'll get a lot of traction.

0:44:39 - Rusty George
I'm so new to the game of golf I've played just enough to know I'm awful, but I enjoy being out there. I enjoy, you know. There's something about as big as it is and as many people are playing. It's just you four, you know, or just you two. I have great conversations with people out there. I don't take myself too seriously, so I don't take the game too seriously and I tend to enjoy it more that way. But I'm so new to the game of golf I don't know all the terminology, I don't know strategy, I don't know the questions to ask. If I were to interview a basketball player, that's another story. But when you interview a golfer, obviously you're going to talk about their faith. But what strategic questions do you like to ask a professional golfer?

0:45:21 - Randy Frazee
Yeah, a lot of. I like to, you know. I want to hear their story, you know, particularly tapping into, you know, when they started playing golf. You know as it turns out, most golfers got started pretty early and the cool thing is is they were playing it with their dad. You know the dad wasn't sitting, you know, behind a chain link fence on an aluminum bench, but they're out there with your dad and that's a beautiful thing, and so I like to hear, you know, that story. When it comes to the technical side of golf, I like to talk to them about swing thoughts. You know that really work for them, you know, but a lot of times you know they'll have some great swing thoughts that everyone's interested in. I like to talk to them about the equipment they use. You know, you know that's a big deal. I like to talk to them about some of the rhythms and I would say for believers it wouldn't be superstitions, but some of the rhythms they have, of what they choose to wear, the routines that they go through.

0:46:20 - Rusty George
They are superstitious, aren't they? Yeah, they are.

0:46:23 - Randy Frazee
You know, I talked about the routine for putting. Putting is where the game is really, really played and how they deal with the pressure. Like my neighbor, jimmy Walker, won the PGA championship and he had like a two foot six inch putt to win it. Well, I mean, many, many people, myself included, miss those putts because your hand's shaking and how do you, you know, focus that. But then there's a lot of metaphors with golf to the spiritual life mulligans, and actually the harder you grip the club, the worse it goes for you that you got to swing in tempo. So there's a lot of metaphors in golf that apply to the spiritual life. So that's just a handful of things that we will try to accomplish in the short time that I have with them. That's fascinating.

0:47:11 - Rusty George
I love this. Well, I could talk to you for hours. This has been great. Thank you for what you've done with all your books, but especially with the story. It's going to bless our church in so many ways and can't wait to journey through it and to enjoy this another time. So appreciate it, randy. Yeah, thank you, Rusty. Well, that was such great stuff. I hope you were inspired by that and we'll share that with somebody. Pass that along to a friend and, as always, if you could leave us a review or rate the podcast, that would be really incredible. It helps us get the word out as to what we're trying to do and help other leaders make things simple. Next week, we'll be back with brand new content. Can't wait for you to hear it. As always, keep it simple.

Creators and Guests

Rusty George
Rusty George
follower of Jesus, husband of lorrie, father of lindsey and sidney, pastor of real life church
Episode 275: Randy Frazee explains why he rewrote the Bible
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