Mid-Winter Convocation

Engaging Scripture in a Community of Faith with Heart, Mind and Spirit
Jan. 13-15-2010
Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

Purchase audio CDs of keynote presentations and panel discussion

audio and video from the 2010 Event

Explore the keynote presentations from the 2010 Mid-winter Convocation below. Chapel services during Convocation were all recorded.

Wednesday, Jan. 13

Chapel - Mary Hinkle Shore Preaching

Keynote- Mark Allan Powell
"The Promise and Peril of Polyvalence"
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Keynote- Mike Housholder
"Watering the World: Biblical Fluency and Hundredfold Returns"
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Thursday, Jan. 14

Keynote- Mary Hinkle Shore
"Worship as Welcome into Scripture's Story"
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Chapel- Mike Housholder Preaching

Keynote- Mark Allan Powell
"Word of God as Transforming Power: The Potential for Scripture to Shape Communities and Change Lives"
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Friday, Jan. 15 

Panel Discussion- Mark Allan Powell, Mike Housholder and Mary Hinkle Shore, moderated by David Lose
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Chapel Service with Holy Communion- Mary Sue Dreier

Workshop Summaries

Bibliodrama/Contemporary Midrash

Dennice Gooley, Inspirational and Motivational speaker

Recently, interviews and tests were held among churches all over America and the results were disappointing. 

  • When asked who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, only two out of 10 got the correct answer.
  • On average, a congregation scores about 40 percent on biblical literacy.

With results like this, it is easy to ask ourselves, “What do these biblical stories mean to us now in 2010?”  Dennice Gooley, and many others, think they may have a creative and innovative way of exploring that question: a Bibliodrama or a Contemporary Midrash.

 The purpose of this exercise is for people to freely explore the space around the text without changing the text. 

  • What wasn’t said? 
  • What wasn’t discussed? 
  • What did these people think? 
  • Who else was around? 

For example:

  • A leader could ask a group to think about what the angels might have thought or said after Adam and Eve were exiled? 
  • Children could be asked, “How do you think Noah got all those animals in the boat?  Was it hard?”
  • A group could also be asked to discuss all of the emotions or discussions that Mary and Joseph might have gone through when they finally realized that Jesus had gone missing.

The purpose of these exercises is to open up our minds past the two-dimensional characters that we see in the Bible and make them real.  It is important not to change the text, but this exercise makes the stories real, emotional, and new. 

Those interested in exploring bibliodrama farther can contact dialogues@usfamily.net

Open the Bible & Duck: Sharing Stories of Transformation

Mike Housholder, Senior Pastor at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa

Through a Q&A session, Householder shared insight from his church, Lutheran Church of Hope, one of the fastest growing churches in the nation.

When people come to Lutheran Church of Hope, they commit to being active in the church through:

  • New member classes
  • Small groups
  • Outreach ministries and programs

Housholder makes it clear that people who want to become members are expected to participate, not just offered the opportunity!

Adults who are new to the congregation, and those who are new to church in general, are asked to take a nine week class called “Alpha”, where people can talk about Christian faith in a relaxed, non-threatening manner.

Alpha is an opportunity to:

  • Get to know others
  • Make new friends
  • Learn about the Christian faith
  • Have fun!

From these classes small groups are formed where people can discuss issues and ask questions in an environment where no question is seen as too simple or too hostile. 

Housholder also addressed questions on growing a church and what it means and being a welcoming church to all people, even when some members don’t want to open the doors to all people.  

Exploring Four Methods of Engaging the Bible with Small Groups

Diane Jacobson, Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary; Director of the Book of Faith Initiative, ELCA


Making Sense of Scripture

David Lose, The Marbury E. Anderson Professor of Biblical Preaching, Luther Seminary

Lose presented a workshop based on his new book, “Making Sense of Scripture—Big Questions About the Book of Faith.” He tackled the current cultural crisis in which far fewer people in mainline congregations know their Christian story.

Lose, the Marbury E. Anderson Professor of Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, pointed out:

People’s embarrassment about their lack of knowledge of the Bible keeps them from attending Bible studies.

To overcome, they need to view  the Bible as a life-shaping, living word rather than as a divine reference book.

People should understand:

  • The biblical story is their story
  • The biblical truth is a deeper, more involving truth than an understanding of truth as verifiable fact

The Bible itself exemplifies this in various places where readers are invited into the story. For example, reference: 

  • Deuteronomy 5 where Moses invited new people into Israel’s story
  • Mark 16:1-8,  the cliffhanger ending that can be understood as our invitation to come “off the bench and into the game” by living the story—and telling it.

Church leaders can foster such participation in Scripture by:

  • Serving as guides rather than merely sharing their discoveries
  • Viewing the asking of questions as often more faithful than having the answers

Teaching the Bible to the Biblically Illiterate and Uninterested

Greg Meyer, Lead Pastor, Jacob's Well, Minneapolis

Jacob’s Well, has grown to 200 attendees in two years, in an urban neighborhood where individuals had pretty much given up on church. In his workshop, Meyer presented ideas on why people don’t go to church and debunked myths as to why they are not going.

Here are some of the myths (and truths) about the biblically illiterate and uninterested:

  • Myth:  They are un-churched. 
    Truth is, many have tried church and walked away from it.  They feel:
    • The Bible has more baggage than authority. 
    • We live in a radically pluralistic world – Christianity is not an automatic choice as much as it used to be, in the U.S.  
    • Curious!
  • Myth: They are totally secular.
    Truth is, most will tell you they are spiritual, not religious.  They are looking for meaning, but they are uncommitted, unconnected, and unfocused.

  • Myth:  They know they should go to a church like yours, just haven’t done it.
    Truth is, they are suspicious of the church, especially as an institution, and they have a hard time believing that there is such a thing as Truth (capital T).

Where can biblical teaching happen?

  • Worship
  • Group Study
  • Personal reading and study.

Teaching the Bible in worship and preaching

  • Do you start with the Bible or the hearer?  THE HEARER
  • It’s what Jesus did.
  • It’s what incarnation is all about.
    • You can spend your life exegeting the Bible, or the Bible can exegete how you spend your life.

Goals of Preaching/Teaching  

  • Engagement – what you are talking about is relevant to me. 
  • Enlightenment – I never thought about it that way before! 
  • Repentance – this is more than an interesting idea, it’s the truth about me!
  • Discipleship – how can I make this part of my life?

How do you teach the Bible starting with the hearer while assuming nothing?

    • Be honest – if you don’t believe it, don’t say it!
    • Admit that theology is descriptive, not prescriptive.
    • Believe that the Bible is transformative.  (Seek a conviction within yourself that while no authority is granted the Bible, the Bible quickly claims it. Get your people into it.)
    • Say what you mean. Exactly what you mean!
    • Drop the religious language.
    • Explain who biblical characters and parts of the Bible are, or don’t refer to them.
    • Create rich context. Tell the back story!
    • Use the best translation (the one that drives home the legitimate point the best)
    • Engage the senses: auditory, visual, video, kinetic, personal.
    • If you want them to know it, print it.
    • Focus attention by using exactly the amount of a passage/story/verse that is needed.
    • Ask people to circle a word, repeat a verse.
    • Ask people to memorize pivotal verses, and then return to those verses!
      • Protestantism’s claims about the Bible’s accessibility to all people repeatedly collide with churchgoers’ impressions that the Bible is inaccessible. This is due to:
        • The confusion it can create
        • Distance people encounter between themselves and the biblical world
      • Scripture itself suggests such problem:
        • See Nehemiah 7:73-8:12, where reading the Torah required communal interpretation and prompted different emotions.
      • Church leaders should own up to the Bible’s difficulty
      • Encourage people to read it with others in a group
      • The scriptural history of communal interpretation and conversation
      • Call people to continue in that tradition
      • Help people to view their own stories within the biblical narrative
      • Give them space to discuss
      • Incorporate the weekly sermon and how Scripture shapes their lives
      • Mediates a message
      • Offers comfort
      • Directs lives
      • Challenges
      • Provides meaning and hope
      • What’s going on in the congregation and community?
      • What’s going on in the nation and the world?
      • What’s going on in the text?
      • What are some of the issues and struggles in listener’s lives?
      • Relate the Bible text to the questions above
      • Be sincere
      • Remember, people are looking for hope
      • Don’t always focus on the bad, review the strengths and joys in the text
      • Remember, preaching is a “difficult joy”

Hearing Our Youth Into Scripture

Jeremy Myers, Assistant Professor of Religion, Augsburg College


On Forging Biblical Imagination: Breaking Down Barriers that Keep People from Engaging Scripture

Matthew Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary

Often, the more church leaders try to make Bible-reading easier, the more they communicate that the Bible is hard to understand.

In his workshop, Skinner argued that: 

Rather than protect people from the Bible or defend the Bible to avoid confusion, Skinner suggested: 

    • Likewise, he offered strategies to overcome common biblical hurdles.
    •  With respect to the Bible’s origins, leaders should emphasize: 
    • When it comes to the Bible’s function, Christians should consider how Scripture comes to new life and interprets our lives.
    •  As for how the Bible connects to our lives and identities, leaders should: 

Bridging the Word and World in Preaching

Gloria Roach Thomas, Pastor, Camphor United Methodist Church, St. Paul, Minn.

In her workshop, Gloria Roach Thomas, pastor at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Paul, Minn., discussed how to make the Word come alive in preaching so that hearers can claim it and walk in it.

Roach noted that the sermon is a vital part of bringing the Word to God’s people. In order to best prepare an effective sermon Roach suggest to remember the following:

The sermon:

When preparing a sermon, preachers should consider:

Roach suggests the following are important to think about in order to bring the Word into people’s daily lives.