Friday, June 14, 2013

LifeWay Introduces Updated Bible Study in SBC Report

In his report to the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer said it was his joy to report that LifeWay Christian Resources continues to experience “God’s hand and God’s favor.”
LifeWay unveiled in its presentation to the SBC an updated and enhanced version of Bible Studies for Life, LifeWay’s most popular Bible study series, reaching more than 1.5 million people in 30,000 churches.
Following a video describing the curriculum, Eric Geiger, vice president of church resources and Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., general editor of the curriculum, introduced messengers to how Bible Studies for Lifefocuses on real-life issues targeting the unreached and unchurched and is designed to connect the unconnected, strengthen families and disciple people with wisdom.
“All of LifeWay’s Bible studies are rooted in Scripture, focused on Jesus and applicable to life,” Geiger said. “The new Bible Studies for Life has the starting point of life. It is designed to help churches and small groups understand where the Bible meets their life.”
Floyd serves as general editor of the curriculum, leading an advisory team of pastors and ministry leaders from across the nation to help design the new material from a church perspective.
“We designed this curriculum series listening to leaders from churches of all sizes and all walks of life and ministry,” Geiger said. “I can assure all Southern Baptists that Bible Studies for Life comes from the church to the church.”
Floyd said every study lasts six weeks and is designed around books of the Bible, various themes such as stewardship and the Great Commission, and some speak to morality, life’s pressures, and mental health issues.
Floyd said of the new curriculum series, “This is where the Bible meets life.”
Geiger expressed his hope that Bible Studies for Life helps churches in three specific areas: connecting the unconnected, strengthening families and discipling with wisdom.
“We know from research that people who are connected serve more sacrificially, they give more generously, they share the gospel more, and they are cared for carefully,” Geiger said. “We believe Bible Studies for Life will help churches connect people to groups.”
In listening sessions with pastors and church leaders, the curriculum team learned that one of their challenges is helping families grow spiritually stronger. Geiger said the studies from kids through adults are aligned every week around the same biblical concept “so moms and dads can more easily discuss with their children and students what the Lord is teaching them.”
Geiger said another challenge church leaders face is that their groups and classes are studying different things and they are unsure if they are making disciples.
“We built Bible Studies for Life on a wise discipleship framework, validated by research, so we can say with confidence that it disciples people with wisdom,” Geiger said.
Bible Studies for Life will be available for kids, students and adults in six week sessions and 13-week sessions.
During the LifeWay report, Rainer also introduced a new on-line training platform called Ministry Grid, launching in November, “that will change the way many think about leadership development in the local church while also changing the way we do training.”
Rainer said Ministry Grid will give more pastors the ability to accomplish Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4 to train the saints for the work of ministry.
Rainer also recommended Frank Page’s new book, Melissa, which tells the powerful story of his daughter’s suicide.
“Many of us in vocational ministry want to act like our homes have no problems,” Rainer said. “Frank Page takes down the fa├žade and allows us to see a real family with real struggles.”
Rainer said he wished every Christian would read this book in an effort to understand some of the issues behind depression and suicide and to more effectively minister to those who are hurting.
Said Rainer, “Perhaps a movement will grow from this book. Perhaps lives will be saved from this darkness because we have a greater awareness and sensitivity to this need.”
Rainer said he is glad to serve in an increasingly exciting time at LifeWay as the entity continues “to draw closer to churches and serve them more deeply, resulting in a greater ability to serve the bride of Christ.”