By Linda Sladkey
HINSDALE, IL (May 12, 2016) — When Hinsdale Covenant Church began Covenant Community Bible Experience (CBE) in the winter of 2015, they didn’t realize the relational depth it would bring to members of the congregation. As one of the pilot churches for the Make and Deepen Disciples Bible reading program, the pastoral staff was amazed at the number of small groups that suspended their own studies to participate in the entire church experience.
“People enjoyed studying the same passage at the same time as friends and family members,” said Pastor Paul Allen. “Bumping into each other at church and conversing about what they had been reading that week was a great way for the whole church to focus its Bible learning.”
After such a positive experience reading through the New Testament in the eight-week program, the church wants to do it again with the Old Testament using resources provided by Biblica, the International Bible Society, which publishes the NIV Bible and CBE.
They used bulletin inserts to enhance weekly services and many made use of online resources for both personal or small group use. Some enjoyed the opportunity to listen to the New Testament online, either while in the car or just because they are auditory learners.
“Even the bookmark they provided really tied the experience together because it had the schedule of readings readily available on one side and five open-ended discussion questions on the other,” Allen said. “Those five questions allowed for people with different levels of Bible knowledge to learn and to participate in discussions.”
The three essential elements to learning God’s word, according to Allen, are personal Bible reading, gifted Bible preaching and group discussion on passages read. CBE provided a way for all three of those elements to come together.
Launching this fall, CBE is a way for the entire denomination to read Scripture together, said Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples. She noted that “It isn’t a Bible study. CBE will be more like a book club discussing the New Testament as story.”
Materials for the fall kick off are being prepared now. Go to http://www.covchurch.org/cbe for more information.