Skip to main content
CEEC the beautiful story

Review "The Beautiful Story" by Church of England evangelical church

God’s Beautiful Story is a suite of free online resources to help evangelical church leaders engage with the Bible and enable their congregations to have good conversations about human sexuality and the implications of changes in understanding or practice in their church grouping.

Created by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), the materials follow on from The Beautiful Story, a film CEEC released at the launch of Living in Love and Faith (LLF), the Church of England’s current dialogue on marriage, sexuality and gender. However, congregations, leaders and groups of elders in any denomination grappling with a revisionist view of Scripture on these core issues could use the materials.

The website ( hosts six films to be watched in order. Each one lasts about five minutes and comes with two A4 sides of notes (apart from the penultimate one which has none and is fifteen minutes long). Each set of notes summarises the video’s main points, suggests how church leaders might use the film and proposes discussion questions, points for prayer and reflection. Further reading and other external resources are listed.

The materials aren’t intended to argue for the traditional view. An orthodox position is, on the whole, assumed. Therefore, if your church is not clear on this, some sermons or small group Bible studies, based on two books by Ed Shaw listed in the notes to the introductory film, would probably be required before embarking on God’s Beautiful Story.

The films are professionally produced. We hear the experiences of opposite-sex and same-sex attracted church leaders and members. The latter compellingly state how destructive it is for same-sex attracted Christians when any church departs from orthodox biblical teaching. The interviewees show integrity, vulnerability and honesty about the pain involved when working through these issues, which is refreshing given the confrontational approach we often see. But it is the pointers for church leaders, on how churches might navigate a Bible-based way forward with those with whom they disagree, which make this material stand out.

The first three films have the most appeal to Christians from any church background. 

Film 1 persuades us why and how God’s people should speak about marriage and sexuality in society’s open but confused debate.

Film 2 invites church leaders to start conversations by listening well, teaching humbly, being patient and getting help from others. It also reassures by reminding them to anticipate the new creation and that these discussions are an opportunity for all Christians to appreciate the gospel and their eternal marriage to Jesus more fully.

Film 3 exposes the differences between traditional and revisionist views and how churches can’t be indifferent about them, given how deeply sexuality is linked to foundational beliefs about humanity and identity. It also highlights how indifference threatens the church’s united witness.

Film 4 examines how the blessing of same-sex couples might seem a workable compromise, but will satisfy neither side of the debate. Here, the content becomes more focused on immediate questions facing the Church of England, but informs all churches dealing with proposed compromises on biblical marriage.

Film 5 allows us to learn from mistakes made by branches of the global Anglican church that have rejected the Bible’s teaching. We hear from those who are hurting after traditionalists and revisionists adopted theological compromise. While Christians from any denomination get to see how messy the situation is, they receive encouragement that reconciliation is possible (as happened in Pittsburgh, in the USA).

Film 6 is timetabled to appear later in 2022, and will explore how differentiation might look.

Finally, although the films are quick to watch, and the notes are easy to read, anyone leading discussions will have to be clued up on the wider arguments. The notes expect leaders to design sessions with their congregations in mind. This will require significant prayer, thought, planning and reading.

Whether or not you lead a church, why not watch the videos and (if appropriate and you’re comfortable doing so) raise the possibility of using this resource?

I pray many Christians would engage with this free material and be better equipped to live and make wise decisions in line with God’s blueprint for life.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.

Download the Winter 2022 edition of Ascend