Bible Work Training
The weekend of February 27 brought together 60 lay people from eight Boston-area congregations to learn how to give Bible studies and become a part of Compassion Boston’s Bible Work initiative. This training took place in three sessions over the weekend at the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Along with encouraging local churches to intentionally meet the felt needs of their surrounding communities, Compassion Boston is preparing the way for a series of It Is Written evangelistic meetings in October of this year. Part of the groundwork for any evangelistic series—let alone one of this scale—includes strategic Bible work: finding and studying with people in the area who are interested in learning more about the Bible.
To this end, It Is Written has sent out the first of several mailings to Boston-area zip codes. All residents in the selected area receive a card advertising It Is Written’s new (and free) Bible Study Guides, with a tear-off form that the recipient can mail back if interested in receiving the studies. The mailed-back cards are then distributed to local Bible workers who prayerfully follow-up with each person, either simply delivering the study or sitting down with the person and going over the lesson, depending on the level of interest. From just that first mailing in Roxbury, already over 100 Bible Study requests have come flooding in.
To help facilitate this work, the Southern New England Conference has hired four full-time Bible workers who are dedicated solely to Compassion Boston (and they’re looking for two more), and It Is Written has asked Jack Phillips to oversee the work as the Compassion Boston Bible Work Program Director.
Of course, four Bible workers could never study with all 100-plus leads on their own, and this is just the beginning. This means that the work is really dependent on local church members to volunteer, to step up and say, “Hey, I can give one hour out of my week to take one of those studies.”
This is why Jack Phillips and Kevin Sears, Director of the Atlantic Union’s NETS Evangelism Training Center, have joined together to offer free weekend trainings for lay volunteers. These “NETS Express” trainings are usually offered at cost to attendees, but are being offered for free in solidarity with the Compassion Boston mission.
It was the first of these trainings that was held February 26–28 at the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“My favorite part was when we paired everyone up together and practiced conversation skills,” said Crystal Phillips, a Compassion Boston Bible Worker and the wife of Jack Phillips, Program Director. “We were given topics and we had to talk about one of these: food, tattoos, and hairstyles. I was able to pair up with a member of the Waymark church. Having this conversation with him enabled me to get to know him and now I have a new friend!”
More than being a useful social time, this was a chance for the full-time Bible workers to connect with the lay members they’ll be working with, training and eventually handing their Bible students off to. It also provided the lay members with the chance to become acquainted with the Bible Study guides they would be using, and to ask any questions they might have had, said Crystal. Training topics throughout the weekend included, “The Importance of Relationships,” “How to Know if Your Friend is Interested in Spiritual Things,” “The Most Important Factor in Witnessing,” “How to Respond to This Question,” and, of course, “How to Give a Bible Study” and “How to Follow-up With Those Interested in the Bible.”
Jack and Kevin are working with local churches to schedule more trainings, which can be seen on the Compassion Boston website at www.compassionboston.org/biblework (which is also where anyone can go to sign up as a lay Bible Worker or apply to a full-time Bible Work position). The next training is scheduled for May 13–15 at the Cambridge Seventh-day Adventist Church, and another for May 27-29 at the Ephesus Haitian Seventh-day Adventist Church.