Serving up the Bible – Reform article

Serving up the Bible

John Campbell

john_campbell_webWhile congregations all over the place are having taster sessions in the first half of this year, preparation will be going on for the first set of materials on the Vision4Life menu.

As anyone who tries the tasters will realise Vision4Life is about helping churches to rediscover who they are and rekindle their hope in the possibilities around them.  It will do that by providing a variety of interesting and stimulating ingredients from which people can start to ‘cook up’ their own local versions.

So when we’ve all finished our tasters, what about the main courses?  The first of the three years of the Vision4Life process will be centred on the Bible.  It begins in Advent 2008 and will run for 12 months, during which each congregation is invited to come up with it’s own answer to the key challenge:

‘How do we get everyone connected with our church to explore the Bible in fresh ways that connect with them, their hopes and their problems?’

Along with this key question will come a whole menu of ideas for fresh engagement with the Bible, many of them designed for people who wouldn’t dream of turning up at a Bible Study because they don’t think they know the Bible very well.

Every church will be invited to include four events – the Core Four – somewhere in their year. We will provide material on four Bible passages that we hope each church will try in some form.
In a church that mainly meets on Sundays these could be used as the focus of worship on four Sundays. They could form the basis of one, two, or four day conferences, or be developed by small groups in homes, round meal tables or in study groups. There will be lots of ideas offered as to how and where they could be done, so each church can fit them into their pattern of doing things.

We’ll also be providing a set of meeting moments, invitations to respond to particular Bible stories, that can be slipped into an existing meeting.  These can be used anywhere from a church meeting to the Brownies, from a lunch club to a church working party.

Alongside these ideas will be a range of other materials about ways of engaging with the Bible, including suggestions of existing books and resources.  The aim is to enthuse everyone in your church family with the idea that the Bible is something they can share in using and interpreting – a book that gets its sleeves rolled up and helps us to live creatively as Christians – even if it doesn’t offer endless neat answers to every question.

Congregations will rediscover the Bible as a key place where people can hear the practical, relevant, enlivening voice of God.  That sounds like a pretty satisfying first course for us all to tuck into.

John Campbell is principal of Northern College, Manchester and a member of the Vision4Life steering group