Embed the Bible in Everything
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. —2 Timothy 3:16-17
In the same way that scripture is woven throughout The Book of Common Prayer, so the Bible should be woven throughout the life of the congregation, providing guidance, comfort, and challenge. The leader teaches and preaches, but each parishioner is called to discover scripture’s rich meaning for his or her own personal spiritual journey. The congregation’s life will then be shaped by scripture. For most Episcopal congregations, this means shifting the culture to embed the Bible in meetings, service projects, social events for all groups, and ministries for all ages.
Some basic steps to embed the Bible in everything:
1. Keep scripture at the core of preaching and teaching
2. Take away excuses for not engaging with scripture
3. Model ways that scripture can be foundational for the community
Some examples of this best practice principle at work:
1. Plan a parish-wide, intergenerational engagement with scripture like The Path or The Story or The Bible Challenge or The Good Book Club. Such programs can run for a month, a liturgical season, a semester or an academic year, or be spread over a couple years.
2. Subscribe to Love Letters, a weekly email for individuals or small groups to study the scripture for the coming Sunday. It includes prayers, the reading, and really good questions to help you engage more deeply with scripture.
Perhaps the most important change we have made in the last few years is adding depth to our biblical studies. Not only do we have a weekly dedicated class which we offer in a retirement community, but we have many classes throughout the year that offer in depth theology, scholarship, and application. This year, we have also taken part in the Good Book club to encourage people to reach the Bible more on their own. —The Rev. Hillary Raining, Rector, St. Christopher’s Church
As part of our strategy to “Embed the Bible,” we regularly use dialog sermons for which the members of the congregation set the agenda, resulting in three very different dialogs for each of our three services. We also incorporate a minute of silence after every sermon. Spiritual Growth is now a topic at every Vestry meeting, and we have held our first ever Spiritual Growth Parish Retreat. In short, RenewalWorks! —The Rev. Bill Roberts, Rector, Deerfield, Illinois
Additional examples and resources
1. Encourage Forward Day by Day for individual reflection.
2. Make it a parish-wide policy to include scripture reflection in every meeting, service project, and gathering of the church. Begin by modeling this in vestry meetings.
3. Have the leadership read The Bible and Episcopalians pamphlet or some other resource about scripture from Forward Movement.
4. Develop a program of scripture memorization.
5. Study the gospel for the coming Sunday, using resources from St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond, Va. They provide thoughtful study guides for each Sunday, with the gospel passage, background information and provocative questions. Good for individuals or small groups.
6. Use the resource “Preparing for Sunday” to get parishioners to reflect on lectionary texts ahead of time.
7. Put Bibles in the pews and refer to them in preaching. Indicate page numbers in the Bible in the bulletin.
8. The Good Book Club
9. Pertinent Forward Movement resources