Monday, May 26, 2008

Abi's Favorite Book of the Bible (...a Meme)

Wow ... these meme things are starting to take up lots of time ... ;^) But this one was much easier, kinda. I saw that Brother Maynard started this particular meme ... and saw that he tagged, among others, Kingdom Grace ... who tagged me.

Like Grace, I love the Old Testament ... but in the New Testament, I love I John. And apart from having had a good portion of it read at my wedding, here's the reason why....

Back in 2003, when the 40 Days of Purpose thing was taking off, our church decided to jump on the bandwagon. Not being a Calvinistic church -- and being the pastor responsible for teaching our series of church doctrine classes -- I wasn't up for doing it the normal way (...not that anyone here will be surprised by that :^) ), and proposed to our senior pastor that I write up a 40 day series based on the classes I had written and been teaching for the past three years. He was persuaded by my proposal ... and then I realized what I'd gotten myself into! I had three months to write, format and publish both a 40 days notebook to use instead of Warren's book as well as a simple adult Sunday School and an adult small group curriculum. I knew that God had his hand all over it because it was both finished (just in time) and exceeded everyone's expectations (except for the closet Calvinists, of course ... they were very unhappy campers).

One of the things I wanted to do differently from Warren's book was to have more continuity with the scripture references ... and as I began to think of which texts fit with each week's theme, well, it kept turning out to be from I John! So during our 40 day experience, we worked our way through the entire book. It was wonderful. The small group focus looked like this:
  1. Week One: Understanding Why We're Here from I John 1:1-2:11
  2. Week Two: Understanding Worship from I John 2:12-17
  3. Week Three: Understanding Fellowship from I John 2:18-3-10
  4. Week Four: Understanding Discipleship from I John 3:11-4:6
  5. Week Five: Understanding Service from I John 4:7-21
  6. Week Six: Understanding Evangelism from I John 5
Anyway ... that was such an awesome time in that awesome book. Thanks, Brother Maynard and Grace, for giving me a chance to reflect back ... and I can't believe it has been five years!!!

So there you have it!

Who to tag? How about these four....





... okay, no more memes for me for a while!

Grateful that Papa is shown in I John to be light, love and life.


Janet Woodlock said...

Wow... that's quite a story!

(It sounds like an exhausting task... at our church we just did "40 days" in small groups and let everyone argue about anything they didn't like... based on the paradigm that we're all grown ups here!) The quibbles were usually around simplism... but I think it clarifies one's own views to read something that doesn't quite ring true, and then have to articulate why.

I didn't get an "e-tag", but I've noticed you've tagged me, so I'll attempt a response.

If I can think of a single favourite book... I'm a bit of a fan of the whole narrative... Hmmm...

AbiSomeone said...


Sorry I didn't get to the e-tag ... my bad, as the young ones say. :^( I am a fan of the whole narrative, as well, and might have a different answer on any given day!

It WAS an exhausting task, but the problem I was addressing was that what was taught in Warren's book was so stark a contrast for the 300 or so folks who had gone through my series during the previous three years ... and we were talking about 1100 folks going through this in small groups ... that we didn't want to have to do the whole deal of explaining where we did not agree (my Dad's church did that, as I know many others did).

We actually used this opportunity to "retro-train" the rest of the congregation who hadn't attended the "newbie" series of "assimilation" classes I had been teaching! That goal was very successful -- especially because some of the "faithful" were not very "on the same page" as some of the newer folks concerning COG doctrine.

The Church of God (Anderson) is kind of like a melting pot of faith -- we had folks from 20+ protestant denominations attending, with a smattering of Messianic Jews and former Catholics and Mormons. Hence, the need for clarifying doctrinal stances... :^)

I was pleased to be able to share this material with a number of COG congregations -- so it was a blessing beyond our local experience. It remains one of the personal highlights of my ministry there.

The clarifying and articulating you spoke of is what they had the opportunity to do this past fall and spring, as the small groups studied Bruce Wilkinson's books with him teaching via DVD -- "Secrets of the Vine" and "A Life God Rewards" ... and it backfired BIG TIME, pretty much as I had feared "The Purpose Driven Life" would. Very sad to watch....

The concern wasn't for the established groups with mature believers -- who did use it as an opportunity to debate, clarify and articulate ... it was for those who were immature believers -- unable to distinguish between good and poor ideas being floated. And they never got more than 400 involved in the small group study opportunities.

Nice to "see" you! Blessings to you, sister!

Janet Woodlock said...

Wow... interesting church and an amazing experience.

There's something about immersing yourself in the word that makes a difference... I suspect in all the hard sweat of preparing the studies you were the one most blessed!

(Although God in His grace can speak powerfully through even a flick open of the bible... this happened to me today. God is good!)

Grace and love in Jesus,


AbiSomeone said...

Well, yes -- isn't the teacher always the one who gets the most out of any lesson? ;^)

Janet Woodlock said...

Indeed, I found this time and time again when working as a teacher (Oh, now I really get it). I also found that it is really the students who teach you how to teach... college just gives some theory about what's going on when things work!)