Holistic Biblical Literacy
It was almost five years ago that I was emailed a document called a Mission Site Profile, MSP. An MSP is a profile, report, and list of hopes and dreams a congregation has when they are in the process of calling a new pastor. There were some rather standard characteristics that most Lutheran Churches would have; monthly communion, love for music and liturgy. There were some that stood out as possibly too good to be true; a church that reached into their community and focused on their mission to feed others. So far all these checked out and are core values of the church - even as we near the give year mark I can say with confidence those are hallmarks of the congregation. One, however, that stuck out (and continues to stick out) is the desire to become more biblically literate.
Biblical literacy. What’s that?
Unfortunately, we all have a different definition. For some it might be the ability to quote chapter and verse of a memorized passage. Perhaps for others it might be the development of an ability to talk with fundamentalists and evangelicals by throwing quotes to support an argument or opinion. It is fair that both of these are concerns, afterall, they are popular culture’s markers of Christianity. However, they do not prove literacy. They only show an ability to memorize facts and figure - an important part of our faith - but not what I would consider a holistically literate church.
When talking with the Call Committee and the members of St. Stephen’s I discovered that the desire for Biblical literacy was based in a spiritual desire to know more. The quest for knowledge and wisdom (my words here) is what I felt I was hearing. Reading scripture from cover to cover was one way. Bible studies on Sundays and Wednesdays was another. Yet, there was not a lot of people that were willing to participate in these educational opportunities. So I wondered what we could have meant by wanting to develop deeper literacy. Could it be that the times were inconvenient or the platform/structure not conducive to gaining that knowledge? When the Mutual Ministry Committee would engage in bible study we would have moments when we saw the vulnerable beautiful gifts of God in one another. When the LEAD team would engage in their study we would lose track of time and find we went an hour over because we got wrapped up in a small passage of scripture. I was beginning to see that we might be looking for a few important things with the way we approach scriptural literacy. The desire to learn about the history and context was important for some. Others like the literary diversity of Hebrew and Chrsitian scriptures. Others loved the depth of spiritual growth and leadership opportunities made possible by the conversations.
As the new year begins we are going to look for more creative ways to open our scriptures and work towards individual goals to become more literate with the Bible, to deepen spirituality, and to have a chance to join one another in a time of prayer and reflection. Our first opportunity is coming to us quickly!
Starting in January we are going to offer two very exciting opportunities to join with one another for a guided Bible study via Zoom. We are hoping to have friends of St. Stephen’s able to join us from other parts of the country as well. If you have not signed up yet, we are extending the registration until the first week of January! The information for Covenant Bible Study is below:
Covenant is an in-depth group bible study in which participants read and discuss the bible together, learning how to love God—and each other—better. There are three 8-episode segments each exploring a different aspect of covenant life. Each will examine what covenant means, and the progression of a covenant relationship with God.
There are two times that will be offered:
Thursdays starting January 21th 12 noon - 1:30
Wednesday starting January 20th 6 pm 7:30 pm
Please fill out the registration form so I can order your materials on time. The church will cover the $30.00 cost of your materials. The registration deadline has been extended to January 8th, 2021.
If you have registered you will be receiving a confirmation email by the first week of January. If you do not receive one by the 8th please call Pastor Jason.