Filed July 2014 by Clarence Harms and Jill Beverlin
1. Congregational Bible Reading Initiatives
Since our engagement in the Biblical Fluency Project we have hosted 3 different initiatives: Read through the Gospel of Mark; Old Testament History of Salvation; The Essential Jesus.
We utilized public sign-ups; went off lectionary and changed daily readings to match our initiative; pastors preached on the readings on Sundays; study groups focused on these readings; we ended with a celebration and opportunity for people to share learnings in different ways (including a public sharing in worship for the Essential Jesus which was very moving and meaningful!). We hope to do a special Bible reading initiative once a year with the congregation.
2. Family Bible Study
Every 5 weeks we have Family Sunday School which includes a 10-15 minute family Bible study led by the pastor. It also includes activities and crafts and a take-home piece to keep the conversation going.
This is very well received and many parents have given feedback about how much they are learning and that they appreciate the “help” in teaching their children about faith!
3. Taking Faith Home
We have started including a Taking Faith Home sheet in our bulletins.
When we are doing a special initiative we create our own sheet; when we are on lectionary we use the sheets from Vibrant Faith Ministries.
4. Youth Bible Study
Our youth ministry intern hosts a study once a week on Sunday morning.
Attendance has grown over the summer! This is led by our youth ministry summer intern.
5. Covenant Groups
Small groups of 8-12 meeting once a month to grow in discipleship practices and share their journey of faith together. They focus on Scripture, service and exploring other types of worship in addition to sharing how they see God moving in their lives. They will meet for a year. At the end we will celebrate and after a period of rest start new covenant groups if people want to continue.
We have almost 40 people involved in this initiative! The young families group is especially strong and growing. We provide free babysitting for this group.
6. Young Moms Online Bible Study
This is a group of about 12 moms who have started a summer Bible study on the Psalms. They meet on Facebook and work through a chapter a week. This seems to be going well!
Other Good Fruit:
- We are currently in a long-range planning process. The focus of this group is to be purposeful about our conversation with God (Scripture and prayer), with one another (hosting listening/sharing opportunities with our members) and with those around us (having purposeful conversations with community leaders and our neighbors) to see how God is calling us to serve into the future.
- We have had an increase in non-staff lead mission initiatives since our engagement in Biblical fluency.
- We have begun focusing on our relationships with our neighbors in our community and have several regular/weekly projects we do together (with the YMCA; a local coffee shop; a local hair salon; a retirement community across the street; and an Episcopal church up the street!)
- When unhealthy personalities try to gain traction, it seems they cannot find footing for their negative intentions!
- We have seen an increase in visitors and bringing in new members!