Photo Credit: The Bible Society
Virtual meeting software allowed all parishioners to take part
By ACNS staff
A ten-session programme to help Christians interpret Scripture has caused lay leaders to take a greater responsibility in the church’s leadership by stretching them biblically and theologically.
According to the Revd Sharon Copestake, the Bible Society’s h+ Making Good Sense of the Bible course helped participants engage more deeply and skilfully with the Bible by offering insights to better equip, empower and resources them for mission.
“At the end of the course those present came out different. Holding them in the process meant they were able to see how other people came to different conclusions [about what the Bible might be saying] even though they may not agree with them,” said Sharon, Curate at St Philip and St James Church, in the Rochester Diocese of the Church of England. “They had learned to be more self-aware before drawing conclusions.”
The church decided to run h+ after attending a training day on the course and its materials. She had been “impressed as [the course] was easy to follow, well packaged, stretching and easily digestible” and liked its “weight, integrity and [the fact] that it was ‘theologically OK’”.
She also saw the course as a means of developing the church’s house group leaders. The lay leaders indicated that the course had challenged them to take a greater responsibility in the church’s leadership by stretching them biblically and, to quote one leader, “to think [theologically] for ourselves”.
Incorporating discipleship material, practical exercises, expert advice, facilitator input and audiovisual features, h+ deals aims to help Christians make better sense of the Bible. The course has 10 sessions run over 10 weeks.
In St Philip and St James they realised that not everyone could physically get to a central meeting point so they used the Join Me software [https://join.me/] enabling people to join in from their own home by means of an audio link. Participants were able to see all the visual material and to offer feedback through text.
The success of the course was welcomed by the co-ordinator of the Anglican Communion’s The Bible in the Life of the Church project, Stephen Lyon.
“The project has been exploring how Anglicans can more deeply and intentionally engage with Scripture across the Communion,” he explained, “and h+ is one of the educational resources to help us ‘do Bible better’ at different levels of our church life.
“I am delighted to hear how it is empowering lay leaders to take a greater, deeper part in the life and mission of their churches.”
For more information about h+ visit http://www.hplus.org.uk/ or contact Michael Pfundner at [email protected]
For more on The Bible in the Life of the Church project visit www.aco.org/ministry/theological/bible/index.cfm or contact Stephen Lyon at [email protected]