By Beth Seversen
CHICAGO, IL (June 10, 2016) — Some churches might be initially uncomfortable with Covenant Community Bible Experience. The Bible-reading program may help “certain people” outside the church become more comfortable with the church—and possibly even attend worship services.
But for Jeff and Laura, members of one congregation, it has been an exciting opportunity to share the gospel with people they knew on their son’s soccer team, at Jeff’s workplace, and in their neighborhood.
Jeff and Laura were pretty sure none of their friends would set foot in a church, but they extended invitations to the Community Bible Experience they started at a local community center. That turned out to lead to deeper connections with some unlikely people.
CBE isn’t a Bible study. It’s more like a book club where participants discuss the New Testament as story, a format that worked well with these unchurched friends and neighbors. No question about the Bible or Christianity was off the table, and participants appreciated a safe environment to ask any question.
As the book club continued, one unmarried couple began visiting church with their two sons. Soon they started telling everyone on their kids’ soccer team about “that church” and “the Book Club they offer.” They began distributing Bibles to their neighbors—without even knowing Jesus yet themselves!
At Easter, they were thrilled to discover the real meaning of the historical event for the first time. They started watching The Bible television miniseries with their boys.
After reading through the New Testament, the group did not want to disband. The local church began another reading program called The Story of Jesus—a Harmony of the Gospels. Jeff and Laura’s group met again, and this time the group felt comfortable enough to meet inside the walls of the church.
Their elementary school kids joined the children’s program at church. Then God brought a Buddhist couple to the group. They had emigrated from China and asked a myriad of questions, such as, “Why didn’t Jesus’s parents leave him at the temple when he was a baby?” (Buddhist monks are raised in the temple from earliest childhood.) “Why didn’t Jesus tell people to heal themselves?” “What is the Passover?” The woman wanted to read the Bible cover to cover before she made a decision to follow Jesus!
Jeff and Laura’s story reminds us that people often come to believe after they’ve come to belong.
It wasn’t just the people who had started coming to the church who benefited. The church CBE coordinator described the book club as “absolutely transformational for our congregation!”
Several Covenant congregations have successfully piloted the program and have seen their congregations strengthened as they read through the Scriptures together. Read “CBE Leaves Church Wanting More” to see how one congregation was impacted.
Community Bible Experience will be launched across the Covenant this fall. Consider inviting an unchurched friend to join you. Go to CBE for more information.