Healthy Cooking

Introduction to a different kind of recipe book written by the global Scripture Engagement team

BildkochenkleinIn our student movements, we are committed to training our staff and students in Scripture engagement. How do we decide on the content of our formación events? What ingredients are needed in order to prepare a nutritious and tasteful dish?

The answer to this question will depend on the context and on the specific target group. For example, the dish we prepare will be different for students than for staff. The answer to this question will also depend on our overall vision. What do we want to see as the result of the totality of our formación in Scripture engagement? And what does this then mean for individual training events?

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19, NIV) “Until Christ is formed in you…” – a beautiful expression of what is on Paul’s heart for these churches!

What do you want to see as the result of the totality of your formación in Scripture engagement? Take a moment to put your vision into words. Please think specifically in terms of your target group.

My impression is that we often focus on only some of the ingredients needed to attain the overall vision while neglecting others. Sometimes…

  • We teach Bible study methods, but fail to address the expectations and attitude with which our staff and students approach God’s Word;
  • We train how to build and run Bible study groups, but fail to stop and reflect on what is actually happening in these groups;
  • We talk a lot about the Bible, but spend a disproportionately small amount of time listening to God’s Word and allowing it to speak to us. At many training events, the morning starts with a Bible study or Bible exposition, but then there is hardly any time to digest what was heard, to soak in the Word, to meet Jesus.

The global Scripture Engagement team of IFES has written a cooking help for you. This new resource does not propose a standard curriculum. Instead it seeks to help us plan carefully what we include in our training programmes.

Scripture engagement formación – a resource for planning and developing training programmes: You can download this material here.

Sabine Kalthoff
IFES Secretary for Scripture Engagement

The Word Among Us

TitelbildENkleonWhat is this booklet about?
The Word among us – that is the Bible around which we gather to listen to God. We believe in a God who speaks because he wants us to know him and his perspective on our world! His words are living and active among us as they speak relevantly into our various contexts and experiences today. The new IFES booklet takes us on a journey of rediscovering the precious gift of Scripture.

The Word among us – that is Jesus Christ, the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the centre of God’s revelation to us. The words of Scripture lead us to him. The new IFES booklet invites us to read the Bible in the context of a relationship – seeing Jesus and seeking an encounter with him through the written Word.

The Word among us – that raises the question of our response to God’s Word. We can keep this Word at a distance by not giving it much room. Or we can extend hospitality towards the Word, welcoming it as a part of our community, giving it space to shape our relationships and lives. The new IFES booklet invites us to strengthen and renew our embrace of the Word.

What is the content of this booklet?
The booklet consists of two parts which can be used independently of one another.

Part I: Cultivating a clear vision of Scripture Engagement. This part presents six core aspects of our interaction with God’s Word. Considering these can help us to broaden and deepen our overall understanding of Scripture engagement.

Part II: Reflecting on the impact of Scripture among us. This part provides questions which are designed to spark inspiring conversations. Reflecting on these questions can help us make necessary changes for renewal in our Scripture engagement.

In addition, you will find reflections on the place of Scripture engagement in the IFES Living Stones Vision, activity suggestions to help strengthen core aspects of Scripture engagement and ideas on how to become a catalyst for Scripture engagement in your context.

This resource is not a recipe book which gives all the answers. But it can start you off on a journey deeper into God’s Word by providing vision, stirring appetite, raising questions and pointing to possible steps forward.

What experiences have people had with this booklet?
A staff worker from GBU France used some of the booklet’s questions in a training session with students. She writes: “It led to very good discussions about our own motivation to engage with Scripture and how to get non-Christian students interacting with the Bible.”

A student from ABUB Brazil read the book and wrote: “I have been very edified by this little book. It has made me reconsider my commitment and love for the Bible and I want to share this with my Brazilian friends.”

The staff team of FES Malaysia spent a day together working through the second part of the booklet. Afterwards, the General Secretary said: “All staff agreed that it was an eye-opening evaluation of ourselves and how we engage students with Scripture. It helps us see where we are and where we need to go.”

How can you use this booklet?
The booklet itself includes suggestions as to how you can use it. I will here only highlight a few possibilities:

_You can start discussing the content in your student groups – either by focussing on just one small section of interest or looking broadly at the vision of Scripture engagement which this booklet communicates. The reflection questions in the second part of the booklet can open up inspiring conversations with little preparation.

_As a student movement, the staff team could be a good place to start. You can work through the booklet together using it to reflect on what you are experiencing in student ministry and how you can move forward in the area of Scripture engagement.

_Individual sections of the booklet can easily be included in other events and programmes. You can integrate them in longer prayer meetings or week-ends away as a student group. Or into training programmes and conferences of your national movement.

_You can also work through this booklet on your own. As you do so, do not only seek to grow personally in Scripture engagement, but also ask how you can encourage others to grow in this area. Introducing them to the booklet is one step you could take. We need ambassadors of God’s Word in our movements who help this generation of students to love, study, live and share this precious Word.

The booklet is available in English, French or Spanish – also online: https://scriptureengagement.ifesworld.org/the-word-among-us.

Sabine Kalthoff

Cultivating a Clear Vision of Scripture Engagement

IFES_Word_amoung_S8.inddA clear vision of Scripture engagement is essential if we are going to strengthen the place of God’s Word in our student movements. The first part of the booklet The Word Among Us is designed to help broaden and deepen our overall understanding of Scripture engagement. It focuses on the following six core aspects:

 

  • deepening our convictions about the nature and purpose of Scripture;
  • cultivating an attitude of love, expectant listening and obedience to God’s Word;
  • modelling a lifestyle of Scripture engagement;
  • trusting the impact of God’s Word in evangelism;
  • nurturing good practices in Scripture engagement;
  • addressing the challenges of our world biblically.

Let us take a moment to look at the first core aspect:
Deepening Our Convictions about the Nature and Purpose of Scripture
What are the essential character and purpose of the Bible? Our answer to this question lays the foundation for our interaction with God’s Word. We need to make sure that our basic beliefs about Scripture are not just abstract theological statements but are filled with meaning. Our desire is that students should have full confidence in this Word, rejoice in its good news and trust its authoritative voice in every situation and issue they face.

Central to our understanding of the Bible is the conviction that God’s Word is not primarily a book but a person. God revealed himself to us not by shouting from heaven but by coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ, and Scripture leads us to him. That is why it is so incredibly valuable. We must not reduce the Bible to an object of study – it is more like a room which we enter to meet Jesus. It is this encounter that transforms us into lovers and followers of Jesus who are able to serve him in the world.

It is worth taking some time on your own or together with others to ask: Why are our convictions about the nature and purpose of Scripture important? What convictions do we hold about Scripture? How are these being challenged in our context? How can we grow in our convictions regarding God’s Word?

The Word Among Us includes a suggestion for a group session which focuses on our convictions about God’s Word (on page 15). You can download the booklet here. In it you will find descriptions of all six core aspects and further material which can help renew our vision and practise of Scripture engagement.

“SELAH”

Standing at attention. Pause. Stop and listen. Underlining what has just been spoken. In the psalms, “selah” is a break between different parts of the psalm. While its meaning is unclear, it could come from the Hebrew root “salah” which means “to hang” or “to weigh”. In the context of our hearing of the Word, it means the space we allow for the Word to study us! We use selah to mean 10-15 minutes of standing in God’s presence, embracing his Word, and allowing his Word to scrutinize our living.

Every time we have East Asia student conferences, we intentionally begin our day with selah. We remember the key phrases spoken (either in silence or as a spiritual director holds up these phrases). With these phrases in mind, we linger in God’s presence – creating space for God to impress his Word upon us and for us to weigh our response to him. Sometimes, a soul-searching question is added to this time of selah.

Amazing how silence and solitude begin to do their work! It is moving to see how the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts with the Word just heard and calls forth a response. The students find that this pause calls their attention to what God is doing in their lives – something which easily gets lost in the busyness of their daily lives.

Over the years, this practice has caught on across the region. At the student leaders’ retreat in Singapore (2014), God used this time of selah to break into their hearts. It was a time of being convicted together and listening to what God really wanted to do through their fellowship.

In a campus group in Malaysia, the prayer coordinator starts the weekly prayer meeting with selah. She invites students to weigh what God has been speaking into their lives throughout the week – giving time for individuals to be searched by God and his Word. This has made many students much more intentional in their living.

Many campus fellowships end their time of Scripture Engagement with a few minutes of solitude for God’s word to be embraced.

These are some of the subsequent ripples which can be seen across our movements in East Asia: “The Word and its demand became clearer to me“; “God’s Word convicted me“; “I gave up to God the things I was holding back“; “I felt comforted and released from the burden of guilt and shame I had hung onto“; “I kept the commitment made five years ago in selah and am now changing jobs because that is where God is leading me“.

Come, let the Word study us!

Annette Arulrajah (anet195(at)yahoo.com)
Associate Regional Secretary for East Asia

God’s Word in My Life

This is a very concrete and practical suggestion, encouraging you to reflect on your story with God’s Word.

Draw the story of the Bible’s role in your life
The following questions can help you decide what to include in a drawing. Focus on those things which are most relevant to your story. Your drawing can be a simple timeline with comments written on it or something much more creative.

  • With what view of the Bible did you grow up? (This may well be related to the image of God with which you grew up.)
  • How did your relationship to the Bible change over the course of your life?
    • How did love for God’s Word grow in your life?
    • How did you learn to study and obey God’s Word?
  • Which people and/or experiences had a significant influence on the way you see and handle God’s Word?
  • Which Bible passages had a strong impact on your life?

You can do this on your own. You will benefit from it more if you then meet in a small group to share some aspects of your story with one another.

What is the value of doing this?

Remembering is one way of cultivating thankfulness. We can praise God for his revelation and its impact on our life. We can also praise God for the people who invested into us, helping us to love, understand, and live God’s Word.

The positive example of those who shaped our approach to God’s Word can inspire us to look for people in whom we can now invest. How can we pass on to others what we received?

Remembering can also be painful. Maybe you need to relook at some negative thoughts and feelings towards God’s Word which shape your story until today. Maybe you will realize that you hardly know the content of the Bible or never learned to trust God’s Word. With whom can you talk and pray about these things? Honestly looking at our struggles and weaknesses can help us see the next step of growth more clearly.

As we remember specific Bible passages which had a strong impact on our lives, we are encouraged to keep going in our walk with Jesus. Maybe we are reminded of certain gospel truths, promises or commands which were meaningful for our journey. Reflecting on how God met us in the past through Scripture strengthens our motivation to keep engaging with him through his Word.

Sabine Kalthoff