All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” – Jesus (John 5:39)
 
As we reboot / refocus our ministries, it is important that we do so with an eye on the importance of the Authority of Scripture. We live in a generation in which we have more information at our fingertips than any previous generation. We have more church consultants and experts on “Church Growth” than ever before. I read many of these folks broadly, seeking to learn as much as I possibly can from their experience and wisdom. 
 
The downside to all of the availability of this information is it sometimes seems to make more sense than what we read in Scripture. The pictures painted in these books are often more appealing than what Christ taught in the gospels or the apostles offered in the epistles – and the Old Testament was “so very long ago, why would we linger there?”
 
I sat with a young seminarian several years ago who argued that he could teach the ways of Christ better with the story of Harry Potter than the antiquated scriptures found in the Bible from 2000+ years ago. My question was, without scripture how do you know the Ways of Christ?  The arc of Salvation? The transforming grace offered through God’s love?
 
I firmly believe we should read broadly. We should use examples from today’s culture to share God’s good news. However, we do this while holding doctrinal standards for how we approach scripture.
 
“The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read there in, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation….”  Article V of the United Methodist Articles of Religion
 
“United Methodist share with other Christians the conviction that Scripture is the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine.  Through Scripture the living Christ meets us in the experience of redeeming grace.  We are convinced that Jesus Christ is the living word of God in our midst who we trust in life and death.  The biblical authors, illumined by the Holy Spirit, bear witness that in Christ the world is reconciled to God.” – 2016 Book of Discipline
 
COVID-19 sent us to a place in which some churches put Bible studies on the back burner in hopes of just maintaining a worshipping core. As we Reboot and refocus, it is time to begin to look at Biblical studies and make them a priority. Educating our laity on the Word of God – the word that occurs in our heart when we spend time in scripture and with others reading the Bible. 
 
What happens if only one or two people show up for Bible Study (in person or online)? You celebrate who is there! You trust that the people there are the ones God will use to help you build the group.
 
One church, due to the COVID pandemic, moved their standard Wednesday night women’s Bible Study, which had about 35 folks in regular attendance, to Tuesday nights at 9 for an on-line version. The result shocked the family life pastor. As it turned out, Tuesday at 9 p.m. was the perfect time for busy mommas. The group swelled from 35 that had regularly met in person to more than 100 via Zoom. Women not affiliated with the church began joining in for this fellowship. This meant revamping the curriculum and offering group teaching followed by breakout rooms via Zoom for small group discussion.  
 
Revitalized congregations, post-COVID, will put a high priority on Biblical literacy, understanding scripture and its ultimate authority on our lives.
 
How many Bible Studies does your church currently have going on?
 
How could you add one Bible Study this fall?  Who would be your target audience?
 
Who, besides the pastor, could offer Bible Study?
 
How do you make Biblical Literacy a core value of your congregation?
 
Teach the scriptures. 

Lead with Love and Grace
 


Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory, Executive Director of Evangelism, Mission, and Church Growth