1. 50-Day Integrated Study
We envision this seven week experience as an opportunity to engage the entire congregation in conversation and study. This period of study will be marked by a purposeful letting-go of the Lectionary in order to draw lines of connection between the Old & New Testaments.
We chose this approach in order to address the gaps in our understanding of the Old Testament (taking into account our love for the teachings of Jesus). We also hope to give those who do not currently participate in a small group or Bible study a taste of what these groups have to offer in the way of community and learning (by creating a common conversation on a larger scale). One form of measurement to be used is a weekly check-in (posted at church and online) for all who have participated in one of the specified ways that week. In addition, we would hope that the success of this project will be marked by growth in our existing and/or formation of new small groups & Bible studies.
We plan to begin the 50-day emphasis on the Sunday after Easter, 2012. This gives us the best opportunity to draw in those who are not otherwise active in the church but who will attend on the Easter holiday.
2. Baby Steps/Challenge Steps
In concert with the 50 Day Integrated Study, we will invite our members to take a 50 Day Challenge. This Challenge would consist of a Baby Step toward their own faith development, with suggested Challenge Steps to include:
- Participating in an existing small group or Bible study during the 50 days
- Participating in a NEW small group, formed specifically to support the integrated teachings of the 50 days
- Participating in an online conversation around the 50 days’ teachings by logging into an online message board in order to share their responses, ask questions and listen to the comments of others
- Opting for at-home study extensions of the Sunday morning teachings during the 50 days (using a take-home study guide available on Sunday mornings and online)
- Following an online devotional blog, related to the integrated teachings.
Our sense is that this step has the potential to meet all of our congregants where they are, no matter what their current level of understanding and participation may be. The goal of this Challenge Step is to encourage our church family to seek out paths of growth in the Word that fit their lives/families, emphasizing that there really is no one-size-fits-all formula for growing in our faith.
3. Introduce New and Expanded Tools for Exploration and Teaching
During the 50 days of integrated teaching/study, we will introduce the congregation to a variety of teaching methods and learning tools, including: online devotional blogs (written by staff and/or Biblical Fluency Task Force members), online study tools (links to be shared via our church website), online message/conversation board, take-home study guides that connect Sunday morning with week-long learning, dramatic vignettes during worship, and video clips connected to Sunday morning teachings.
We are eager to utilize some new and under-used methods of teaching and exploring the Scriptures, particularly in response to our knowledge that this congregation, though older in age, is internet-active and -savvy. By expanding our teaching methods to cover more of the multiple intelligences/learning styles of our members, we hope to create opportunities for significant growth.