Promoting Christ-centred Biblical Ministry

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reprinted from the Autumn 1993 edition of Essentials  


  Crossways and Biblical Illiteracy

Bill Graham

Bill Graham reviews Crossways- a solution to the problem of Biblical illiteracy in the parish
  "We teach children and play with adults. Jesus taught adults and played with children. "  
  That was the insight of the Rev Harry Wendt, a Lutheran Pastor in Adelaide back in the 70's. It seemed to him that few church attenders had a good understanding of the Bible and how to read, study and live by it. Their systematic biblical education had ended when they left Sunday school. He noted that many had been committed Christians, listening to good sermons and attending Bible studies for years. But their knowledge of Scripture was superficial and their faith lacked maturity and confidence. What was needed, he decided, was a well planned teaching programme that in CONTENT and METHODOLOGY presented a comprehensive overview of God's revelation in the drama of Israel's History and its fulfilment in Christ as recorded in Scripture.  
  The result was a teaching programme of Biblical Theology suitable for the average church attender.  
  To increase the impact of the course Harry decided to employ an artist to help him prepare visuals in the form of over 300 colour overhead transparencies which translated his teaching into meaningful symbols that would visually reinforce the truths being taught verbally.  
  The teaching programme that was developed and gradually refined attracted the interest of others. This eventually resulted in Harry Wendt setting up what he at first called the Shekina Foundation and then moving to the USA where publication on a larger scale was possible. Recently the venture changed its title to THE CROSSWAYS FOUNDATION.  
  The materials were initially designed for English speaking protestant use and distribution to Churches in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the United Kingdom increased rapidly. But soon Harry Wendt had an exciting missionary vision and on a shoe string budget has endeavoured to make available this excellent material to churches in many third world countries, Eastern Europe and the emerging republics of what was the Soviet Union. He is receiving invitations to visit these countries and introduce the courses to them.  
  Some of the courses have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese and Swahili. Translations into other languages are being prepared at present.  
  I first discovered CROSSWAYS in 1986 while Rector of the Parish of Wollongong in NSW. Previously I had never found it easy to pick up and adapt packaged teaching materials to fit the needs of the churches in which I served. At the time I was planning an integrated education programme for the parish and wanted to include a comprehensive introduction to the Bible, training in personal witnessing and training in pastoral care. I discovered in Crossways exactly what was needed for introducing people to the Bible and at the same time, because of its very practical application of the theological principles it highlights, providing an excellent foundation for courses on witnessing and pastoral care.  
  So I went about setting up the programme as thoroughly as possible.  
  Nor was I disappointed. During the three years that followed, from a congregation totalling 500, over 150 people went through one or more of the courses offered.  
  Crossways in its present form offers four levels of study.  
  See Through The Scriptures (STS)  
  STS (not to be confused with Walk through the Bible), may be used as an intensive one day overview of the Bible, as a short course over several weeks, or for a weekend study programme at a conference or camp. The Bible is interpreted Christologically, i.e. the course follows through the history and teaching of the Old and New Testaments guided by the pre-established principle that Jesus Christ is the God-ordained key to understanding what we are studying. His identity as LIVING WORD OF GOD and SERVANT-KING the expected MESSIAH is established in the introductory part of the course. Then the course unfolds the historic Drama of what God has done in saving his universe through Christ.  
  One day seminars are hard work, needing 8 hours including lunch and refreshment breaks and should only be attempted by an experienced presenter. People always go home tired but exhilarated as they are captured by the amazing power and unity of God's revelation. A common comment is "Now I see how it all fits together".  
  The Divine Drama (TDD)  
  This 30 unit course is designed to provide a one year programme. The title is derived from the idea that studying the Bible is like reading the script of God's great drama of salvation history. Units 1 to 15 give an overview of the Drama from creation to Christ which is really an expanded version of See Through The Scriptures. Units 16 to 30 build on all that has been previously studied and introduce the student to key areas of systematic theology.  
  Each unit includes excellent study notes for the group members and well thought out preparation sheets to be used during the week prior to each group meeting.  
  Divine Drama is presented in two formats. The first is designed for youth and is an excellent tool for those wanting a comprehensive confirmation course. The second is designed for adult groups.  
  Crossways is the most ambitious of the courses and provides 60 units designed as a two year programme in which each book of the Bible and a number of themes are studied. It may be used on its own but is an ideal follow up on STS and TDD.  
  One excellent way of using these three courses in a parish programme is to get as many as possible to do STS and then recruit people to join a group which will do TDD as a year of more intensive study. Later they can be encouraged to follow on with CROSSWAYS.  
  Biblical Stewardship  
  Biblical stewardship is the most recent addition to the courses. Drawing on materials from various parts of the other courses Harry Wendt has provided an excellent tool for facing Christians up to the Biblical imperative to be stewards or managers of all that God so graciously provides in his creation. This can be a good introduction to teaching on Stewardship of money.  
  In all these courses the theme of SERVANTHOOD is emphasised.....  
  • BECAUSE God has so graciously rescued us, (as he did Israel of old)
  • THEREFORE we must serve him in his world by living according to Christ's servant model.
  The range of aids provided for teachers of these courses is extensive and of high quality. Well prepared colour overhead transparencies, excellent student manuals, cassette tapes and colour videos are all available to help.  
  Materials cannot be purchased unless a person has attended a training session. Once that requirement has been met a registered teacher in a church may train others to use the material and develop a programme to suit their own situation.  
  I urge all parish clergy to familiarise themselves with this material and consider it for their own use. Information is available from my office.  
  Rev Bill Graham   

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