Four Circles experience


This week I had the joy of creating an interactive experience for 4500 high school students and leaders to teach them a gospel presentation model called the Four Circles. It was a combination of video, hands-on experiences, live teaching, discussion, and “surprise” art installation that was 16 feet tall and 64 feet long!

The event was the CHIC2018 conference, a gathering of high school students in Knoxville, TN. CHIC is a conference held by the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination, and happens every three years. It is an amazing conference. I had never been to it before and was thrilled when my friend Steve Wong invited me to his team.

Every morning of the event, they have four simultaneous base camps, where the students rotate through three-hour learning experiences. Steve was in charge of one of these base camps, and he and the planning team had had a retreat to develop the concept of how to teach students how to share their stories and share God’s story to others using the model of The Four Circles.

I love the Four Circles. It’s really simple and also visual, which suits me well! Plus, it is a very natural way of sharing the gospel because it tells the full story, not just ending with salvation, but moving to mission and redemption so people can see they have a purpose here on earth and that salvation is not just about going to heaven. See this link.

Each day, we had 1,000+ students and leaders enter our space, a large exhibit hall that was divided into four quadrants. Everyone was divvied up into the four quadrants to make equal groups. Here’s a shot from above, minus all the leaders, who went upstairs for training.

We started with the first circle, which is about God’s goodness, how He created what is good. After the video, the kids took a sticker and wrote on it what they thought was good. Then they stuck it to a triangle wedge. 

After this everyone rotated clockwise to the next quadrant, where they saw a video about brokenness. This circle talks about how sin has broken the relationship that God intended for us. Everyone stamped a thumbprint as symbolism that we are all marked by brokenness. Their thumbprints made a textured pattern on the triangles.

The next rotation, they learned about Circle 3, which is about Jesus bringing redemption and healing. For this activity, they used paint pens to draw a cross and write their initials.

The fourth circle was about how as a result of Jesus’ redemption, God uses us in His mission to the world to bring people to restored relationship and to heal the brokenness in the world. This activity was writing their initials on cellophane stars and sticking them on the board.

The physical act of moving from quadrant to quadrant was a way to emphasize the differences of the four circles, and a subconscious way to communicate the importance of moving from circle to circle. Here’s a composite photo during one of the videos when I went around and snapped a photo from each quadrant.

We could’ve done the event without the movement, but it was beneficial in two ways: 1) it helped them understand the concept of having four different circles, and 2) it kept them moving and awake. (The kids were tired!)

Every quadrant had the same order:
1) Video explaining concept of the circle, with peer voices giving testimonies of their own life

2) Hands-on activity with a reflection question

3) Discussion time for people to gather in groups and talk about what they were processing. We saw groups talking seriously, people crying, hugging, and praying for each other. (And there were a few others who were goofing off, as expected when there are 1,000 teens around!)

That was all Act One. After this we moved into Act Two. During Act Two, the leaders went upstairs for training by Beth Severson, our Director of Evangelism. Unfortunately, the room was too small to fit everyone, but it was the only room available. They were packed like sardines in there!

Meanwhile, speaker Troy Tisthammer gave a presentation of the four gospel model, broken up with a chance for the students to share their stories with each other. He taught live in one quadrant, and the video image was projected in the other quadrants.

At the end, he made a call to salvation as well as a call to mission. We were so thrilled when at the end of the week, 88 kids had accepted Christ and 1245 had stood to respond to the call to mission. And that was just in our base camp!

The tricky part was that during Act Two, we had 30 minutes to install all the triangles that had been made to create circles.

The first day was the most challenging because of time constraints. We had to get all 64 pieces up in 30 minutes…with only one ladder that could reach to the top!

During the week we also ran into a major roadblock… no more painting allowed. I’ll detail the behind-the scenes in the next post. God gave us inspiration, flexibility and creativity to come up with an even better solution than originally planned!

Despite the challenges, every day we added new layers to the circles while the large group teaching was going on. By the end of the week, each circle was covered with the individual handiwork of the students. They could see how their stories added with the others to be part of something bigger — that God is at work in the world and uses them to accomplish His mission.

One of the greatest highlights of the week was hearing that one student was so impacted by the experience that afterwards he called up his girlfriend, shared the Four Circles with her, and led her to Christ on the phone! Steve (our team leader) and I wept tears of joy and the whole team was so pumped. 

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