Case Study: Passionate Spirituality at South Presbyterian Church

southIn pursuit of more passionate spirituality, South Presbyterian Church has gone down two related tracks.

First

The pastor held an initial three-session adult bible study series, “Bible 101” with approximately 24 people participating (nearly half of regular worshipers). Participants were eager (passionate?) for more, so a second three-session summer series, “Life and Times, Geography & Culture of the New Testament” was offered.

Participants brought their own bibles, and read the same passages from lots of different versions—which seemed to really encourage discussion among people who were a little shy about sharing their understanding of what they were reading—and the discussions were lively!

Overall, people really enjoyed reading The Message, so it was decided to order copies, including some in large print, plus some smaller and lighter-weight versions to meet people’s different physical needs. In ordering bibles, there was no discrimination between members and non-members or even those who had been attending for a very short time.  The “newbies” were stunned by the gift of a new (and easy to read!) Bible.

Several people, decided they wanted to order—at their own expense—additional other bibles which had been used in bible study (of particular interest was an archaeological study bible). One long-time member, who purchased the archaeological bible, enclosed a note with her check, “It really means a lot to me to be able to purchase this through the church.”

Second

Leaders decided to revitalize the Christian Education program, which had been a hit-or-miss endeavor for at least the last 15 years.  Although $200 was allotted to Christian Ed in the regular operating budget, only a small part of it was ever used.

A task force reviewed many curriculum resources and talked about what they hoped to accomplish, especially in light of the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to the adult bible study. Seasons of the Spirit because it seemed to best fit the goals of strengthening spirituality.

The curriculum is lectionary-based and has “modules” for different age groups—toddlers through adult. The hope was that if all age groups were studying the same material (adjusted for their age); there would be lots of opportunity for cross-generational conversation.

For instance, kindergartners and Senior Citizens were all considering the topic of “Forgiveness” from Matthew’s gospel. Adult Ed is on Monday evenings, and participants study the lectionary lesson for the coming Sunday so there is time to “chew” on the material for a while.

This really seems to be sparking some conversation during fellowship time, along the lines of, “You know, I was really thinking about that this past week when ‘x’ happened”. There seems to be a real excitement among worshipers about sharing their learning.

Submitted by Shelly Carithers