Scripture Engagement: A plant nursery for trainers

Over the last three years, I have participated in a continuous Scripture Engagement training. The idea behind this training was to invest in young people who would in turn invest long-term in others. The aim was not to establish a specific programme for Scripture Engagement, but rather to train men and women who would translate what they learned into their own contexts.

Ten of us, from different French-speaking countries in Africa, took part in this training. The training happened over three sessions from 2015 to 2017, in Togo, Guinea-Conakry and Mali respectively; these sessions were key in enabling us to grasp the concept of Scripture Engagement and to improve how we approach the Bible. In between sessions, we had homework to do, such as studying the Gospel of John, reading a theological book, writing Bible studies, surveying students about how they perceive the Bible.

For me, one of the most important topics dealt with the convictions we have about God’s Word. I realized: Firstly, this topic allows us to relook at what we state about God’s Word and ensure that our beliefs are not simply abstract statements but alive with meaning. Secondly, it enables us to lay good foundations for engaging with God through His Word. I think it is essential for everyone to have strong convictions about God’s Word. Then we wouldn’t constantly have to chase people to ask if they are meditating every day, because they would be doing it anyway.

These training sessions impacted my ministry and my life. In terms of ministry, I have improved in how I ask questions when writing Bible study guides, I have set up a support group for my ministry (for financial, material and spiritual needs) and I have started to invest into a youth group. With this youth group, I am soon planning to survey students to find out how we can introduce them to God in the light of Scripture.

In my personal life, my way of engaging with God through his Word has changed. I now always try to establish a bridge between my biblical knowledge and my everyday life. And I have set myself the challenge of always sharing my discoveries in God’s Word with others whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Salimou Traoré,
high school teacher and leader of the Bible study department in GBEE Mali, trasa_86(at)yahoo.fr

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

BEST-P: Students Learn to Teach the Bible

logoFOCUSSince 1989, FOCUS Kenya has run Best-P (Bible Exposition Self-Training Program). This program trains students in Bible study and expository preaching skills. At its heart are small groups of students studying books of the Bible – with each person preparing short expositions, presenting them to the others and receiving feedback. The students participating in this program receive some initial training in Bible study. Below you can read about one students’ experience of BEST-P. You will find a description of the BEST-P concept by following this link.

I first heard about BEST-P in 1998 in my second year at university. During this time, I struggled with low self-worth and uncertainties in my Christian walk. Even though I was raised in a Christian family, I had not gotten much discipleship training. When I heard about this group of 40-50 Christian students who met each week to learn how to study the Bible, I got interested. From then on, I never missed a BEST-P meeting until I left campus! In the group meetings, biblical books were exposited. The group was divided into smaller groups of 4-6 students; each group was allocated a portion of the biblical book to study. A week later they presented a short exposition of this passage to the big group. After each presentation, there would be a plenary discussion and an evaluation. I found this quite fascinating since the church meetings I had known were basically monologues.

Before leaving campus, we studied topics like Inductive Bible Study, Hermeneutics, Homiletics, Expository Preaching, Apologetics and writing Bible study guides. Knowing there would be discussion and feedback after each presentation motivated us to do thorough research and study ahead of the meetings. This made the learning more engaging and inspirational. I soon became part of the team of student preachers of the Christian Union. My passion for the Bible grew strongly as reading the Bible became more meaningful to me. This passion led me to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies.

I have since been involved in preaching and teaching the gospel in schools, Christian Unions and churches. I also write Bible study guides in my place of work for group meetings. Long live BEST-P!

Kepha Nyandega, serving with National Council of Churches in Kenya

Ongoing training

Since 2005, the training department of UGBB (IFES Burkina Faso) offers an ongoing training programme to its students. The course lasts for two years, with the aim of passing on Bible competence and an understanding of the student movement to students who will in turn pass this on to other students. The biblical basis for the course is 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” The course includes theoretical learning and practical assessments (homework).

PatriciakleinI had the privilege of taking this course over the last two years. What encouraged me to do so was my hunger to know more of the Word of God. In the first year, we had sixty hours of theoretical teaching on the following subjects: evangelism, follow-up and integration of new Christians, Bible studies, Bible expositions, prayer, leadership, giving support to Bible study groups in schools, the Living Stones vision, fund raising and learning about our student movement. In the second year, we had thirty hours of teaching followed by a practical assessment.

For this second year, we chose an area of specialisation. The choices were:
– Understanding the Student Movement
– Evangelism
– Leadership
– Bible study

I chose Bible study. Thanks to this training course, I can now lead in-depth Bible studies and share what I discover with others. I’ve also started to help train our student groups in Bible study methods. For my personal growth, I’ve got into the habit of doing a personal Bible study (almost) every week. This has allowed me to study most of the book of Samuel in the Old Testament.

I often come across a passage that is very well-known, or that doesn’t seem to have anything special to say. But by questioning and reflecting, I discover truths that deepen my understanding of God and my walk with him. I find that the Bible is a inexhaustible source.

Patricia Nata Zième Kambou, Natural Sciences student, Burkina Faso.
(bethelsion (at) yahoo.fr)

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

Where Scripture and Life Connect

This was the theme of a very memorable Scripture engagement consultation for which over 100 NIFES student leaders, staff and associates gathered in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Our time together started with a pre-consultation to train the small group facilitators on how to lead their groups. This was important since work in small groups played a significant role during the consultation.

One of the high points of this consultation was a small group project, in which we worked together on the way in which God’s Word connects to the realities of our context. One aim of this exercise was to renew the good practice of coming back to the Scriptures when dealing with the challenges of our context thereby strengthening our conviction that Scripture is relevant to all of life.

The contextual issues which were identified for consideration during the small group project were:

  • examination malpractice/academic corruption
  • corruption and governance
  • sexuality
  • poverty and violence
  • cultural practices
  • persecution

Each small group worked on one contextual issue in four steps. First, we identified the main challenges about this issue: what provokes us to seek a Christian response? Secondly, we brainstormed biblical passages which could help address this issue. Thirdly, we chose one biblical passage to look at in more detail and see how it speaks to the contextual issue. Lastly, we thought about creative approaches/relevant ways of sharing this passage and its perspective in our context.

Each group presented their work on a cardboard paper and displayed it for the other participants to go through. This was really educating!

Personally, working on the small group project was very transforming. Going through the Scriptures to see what God’s Word says about every form of malpractice and corruption was not only hard work but also engaging. The big question became: How will we as a national movement address the issue of examination malpractice/academic corruption in our country?

When I now hear of Scripture engagement, I do not only think of studying my Bible, but of much more. I think of LSLS: I think of Loving, Studying, Living and Sharing God’s Word. For me, Scripture engagement has shifted from being a mere activity to a lifestyle. I have resolved to live out the Word of God and to share it with my friends and siblings. My conviction about Scripture has deepened and I desire the fruitful change which God’s Word brings.

Jesus the host, who invites us to his Word, is the reality that changes everything.

David Ndubuaku, student president of NIFES
ndubuakudavid(at)gmail.com

Blessing the Church

What can IFES give to the church? This is a question worth asking. We need the church to support student ministry, but we also want to be serving the church. Last year, EFES Egypt gave a valuable gift to the church in Cairo by inviting leaders and pastors to a Bible study training.

In December 2013, we offered three days of training for church leaders from Cairo. The idea was to train a small number of pastors and leaders in order to improve their skills and establish the idea of Bible study in the churches. By bringing these leaders together, we also wanted to increase the level of cooperation between them. Furthermore, we hoped that this training would help church leaders understand student ministry and support the start of Bible study groups in their churches.

The content of the program included:

  • The importance of the Bible
  • Reading the Bible correctly
  • The concept of inspiration
  • The Biblical canon
  • Old Testament background
  • An inductive approach to Bible study
  • New approaches to Bible study
  • How to lead a Bible study group

To our joy, 70 participants from 17 different churches came. It was a great experience to see leaders and older people still wanting to learn and improve their skills in studying the Bible. One pastor said afterwards: ‘Many aspects of this program were new to me. I now understand why students run away from our Bible study meetings in church. But now we can make them more attractive.’

The participants decided to have a follow-up meeting every six weeks. They plan to study the Bible together using the new approaches which they learned. As EFES, we plan to offer two further days of training for this group.

Running this training has also been a blessing for EFES. We have gained new relationships and friends for our ministry. This has opened doors and pastors are giving more support to student groups in their churches. Since our students cannot meet on campus, this is crucial for our ministry. In November 2014, we repeated a similar training for over 50 participants in another part of Egypt.

Shaher, EFES Egypt