Review: A Better Hero
Introducing A Better Hero
A Better Hero is a pocket-sized evangelistic booklet which runs through four short passages from Mark’s gospel. Each double-page contains a short passage and three simple questions for that passage, as well a ‘food for thought’ question which tees up the next section. There’s no commentary or explanatory text – instead the simple format allows the passages to speak for themselves and in doing so showcase the ‘Better Hero’, Jesus Christ.
Tom Heasman, one of the team at Dundonald Church in London who have created the booklet as part of their Something Better initiative, explains why they believe A Better Hero is filling a gap:
“1. The layout and structure of these booklets is different, in that there’s a lot less content. ‘A Better Hero’ is deliberately designed to be as straightforward as possible – with just three questions per study, on a 2-page spread.
2. The aim is that these ‘mini-studies’ are a primer to a conversation on the Bible. When we launched these in December 2017, the line I kept repeating is that this booklet is designed to help start the conversation. They don’t provide all the answers, but they’re a launch-pad for a simple, straightforward conversation about the Bible.
3. They’re designed to not require any training in advance. You don’t need to have a ‘Leaders Handbook’ to guide you through it. It does what it says on the tin. You can just open it up with your friend, read the passage, and then ask each other the questions. For some people, the conversation might be over in 5 minutes; for others, it might be an hour. But conversations will be happening!
4. The design of the booklet is such that it can be done anywhere. You can have a couple in your back pocket. You can fit a bunch of them in your bag. And so you can read ‘Hero’ with someone wherever suits you – down the pub, in a cafe, at home, on the train, at work. And because it’s small, it’s cheap to print – you could order 500 and stick them at the back of church for members to grab whenever they want to start the conversation with a friend.”
Searching for a Hero
The ‘Better Hero’ title and hook frames Jesus as the fulfilment of our hopes. As the booklet’s opening text puts it:
“All of us long for a hero to follow. A champion. Someone who will fight for us, give us meaning and purpose, and provide hope for the future. It might be a politician, a sportsperson, a family member or friend. It might even be ourselves.
But time and again, these ‘heroes’ fail to deliver. They let us down.
But what if there was a better hero?
Someone who provided true meaning and purpose, who was able to save us from our biggest problem of all, and provide us with lasting hope?”
I think this is really helpful. It captures the imagination with the biblical Jesus, showing that he is someone who can actually make a difference – the difference we long for, even if it’s not quite what we necessarily expect. Each of the four passages are then set out in relation to the hero theme: The Hero’s Identity (Mark 2:1-12); Our Problem (Mark 7:14-23); The Hero’s Mission (Mark 10:45 & Mark 15); Following the Hero (Mark 8:34-38). And so the reader is guided simply through an understanding of Jesus as God himself, come to rescue us from the problem of our sinful hearts.
Mark In A Nutshell
For those familiar with Christianity Explored’s seven sessions in Mark’s gospel, the four passages chosen will be familiar selections. Of course, one of the strengths of Christianity Explored is that, by working through one gospel, there is an emphasis on ‘letting the gospel tell the gospel’. What A Better Hero does is take that idea but boils it down to even fewer chunks. One of the benefits of A Better Hero is that it just has four parts. Compared to CE or the Uncover Mark’s gospels, this will have the attraction of seeming more manageable – especially if it seems someone is not ready for a longer-length resource. As Heasman says, we’re praying that “as people are brought to see the person of Jesus in the pages of Mark’s Gospel, they might come to see and believe that he is the Saviour of the world.”
I went back and forth on wanting to see the whole text of Mark’s gospel in the booklet. A Better Hero’s strength is its simplicity – both in terms of just four passages and just three questions for each passage. But at points I felt like somehow including all of of Mark’s gospel in the booklet would be an advantage, as people could be encouraged to read the rest of the gospel in between meeting up. But I realise this would make it a much fuller booklet, and there might be additional copyright complications for using the whole Bible text.
Produced in partnership with ninefootone creative, A Better Hero is beautifully set out, with an eye-grabbing minimalist red and white colour scheme and crisp fonts. In other words, it’s visually impressive and so giving it away or reading it publicly is more of a pleasure.
You can view an electronic copy of A Better Hero here.
Ninefootone are willing to let churches order their own customised copies of ‘A Better Hero’ with church logo, meeting times, and contact info for £0.72 per copy, plus £30 set-up costs. Costs per copy decrease the more you order. You can do that here.
Taking Personal Evangelism from Zero to the Hero
Rico Tice, founder of Christianity Explored, has said that the future of evangelism in the UK is about every Christian being a Bible sharer. We’re not all called to be Bible teachers, but we can all be Bible sharers. At a time when fewer people are committing to evangelistic courses – and more legwork needs to happen before those few do commit to a course – we need to be ready to share the Bible with people informally in the context of a relationship. That can seem like a gear shift for lots of us. It’s out of our comfort-zone! But resources like A Better Hero are tools to make that more straight-forward.
Although we’re in a different context to Dundonald, it’s proved a useful tool to even just get us imagining sharing the gospel with others. At GCB we tied this into a four-week teaching series where we unpacked each of the selected passages from Mark to help give us confidence in then opening up those passages with a friend. We opened the series with a introductory talk using some of the Talking Jesus research and a call to be ‘praying for 5’. Going through each passage on a Sunday also allowed us to flag up points of cultural engagement and engage with questions about the passages. It’s been super-encouraging to then hear of people giving it away or reading it with friends or family members. Why not give it a go?