Discipleship Deep, Rich, & Rooted: The Bible
- Deuteronomy 6:4-9
- Psalm 119:11
- Matthew 4:4, 28:19-20
- Luke 8:21
- John 1:1-5, 5:24a, 8:31
- Acts 10:44
- 2 Corinthians 2:17
- Galatians 6:6
- Colossians 3:16
- 1 John 2:5-6
When we talk about embracing discipleship as a way of life we must begin with the Word of God. Psalm 119:105 declares, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." That being said, we as disciples are faced with disturbing statistics. According to data from the Barna Research group, 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments, and 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.
Other polls indicate that half of graduating high school students think Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and a considerable number of people think Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount. A Gallup poll shows 50 percent of Americans can't name the first book of the Bible.
Faced with this reality, it's vital to go back to the basics and call the church and each disciple to daily reading and study of Scripture. We hear God's story, we connect with God's story, we believe and live out of God's story, we share God's story.
Because each ministry is unique, making the Bible come alive will look different in each setting, but we can all encourage, empower, and equip each other to live into and out of the Word.
Lord, fill us with a hunger for your Word. Open our eyes and ears, minds, and hearts so that we lead a life committed to living into and out of the Word. Amen.
Conversation-Starters for the Church Community
- How do we encourage people to read and study the Bible now? What else can we do? How? When? Where? Who has gifts for this ministry?
- What do we do to empower or enable the reading and studying of the Bible now? What else can we do? How? When? Where? Who has the gifts for this ministry?
- How do we equip disciples to help others live into and out of the Word? What else can we do? How? When? Where? Who has the gifts for this ministry?
- Is there one step or initiative we will pursue now that will further, or bring into focus, reading and studying the Bible? What is our level of commitment?
Discipleship for Kids: Growing Faith after School
For the last 12 years, Leanne Bonnecroy taught first grade at an Orange City, Iowa, public school. "What I started seeing more and more was children going home to an empty house," she says. "It really concerned me." Bonnecroy mentioned this in a meeting at First Reformed Church in Orange City.
"God put those words in my mouth," she says. "I said, 'I think we need to consider starting something for after school, even if it's just a few days a week.'"
A few weeks later she was hired as the church's director of children's ministries and began planning an after school program called Kids' Connection. (She also runs the church's more traditional children's programs.)
After school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, three church buses pick up children at local public and Christian schools. The program begins at First Reformed at 3:30 with a healthy snack, followed by a Bible story. Then there's free time during which children choose their own activities--dress up, Legos, crafts, playing a game, getting help with homework--there are lots of possibilities. A few local banks have partnered with the program to provide monthly bingo games and birthday parties. Most parents pick up their children between 5:15 and 6:00.
"We're really working to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in our Sunday school, in our catechism, in our Kids' Connection program," Bonnecroy says. "It's all about God. The thing that makes Kids' Connection different is our children. We treat everyone like it's the very first time they've heard the name of Jesus. Also, the free time that the children have to explore, to be creative, do coloring, do whatever they would like to do, has developed in them their own passions and gifts."
A handful of the more than 100 participating children have no church affiliation. The rest come from churches in seven different denominations. The children range from kindergarteners to fifth graders.
"We're really working to spread that word; we're planting those seeds," Bonnecroy says. "I just so want this to be about God."
The program draws from a pool of 60 volunteers who come from a number of area churches and from Northwestern College. "I have terrific volunteers," Bonnecroy says. "People I have worshiped with for 21 years, and I am just seeing such beauty, beautiful passions and gifts in people that I never knew were there." Kids' Connection is free of charge thanks to donated funds and goods. It is modeled after a program at First Reformed Church in nearby Sioux Center.
Do you have stories about or best practices for reading and studying the Bible that you would like to share with the wider church community? Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Children and Worship approach to using the Bible with children takes the spiritual character of both children and the Bible material seriously. It takes into account children's need for accessible language. It also addresses their need to develop habits of interaction and response to the biblical material. The stories are told in a fairly straight way in the belief that the emotional depth of these great narratives will speak directly to children's own experience of emotional depth. For more information, see www.rca.org/childrenandworship and/or join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/childrenandworship.
Infuse Bible Studies
This new Bible study series aims to help people discover where faith and life meet. The first studies available include Esther: Courage in a Complicated World; Jonah: Fish, Flaws, Forgiveness; Matthew: One King to Rule Them All; and Colossians: The New Old Perfectly Imperfect You.