I’d like to share how we went from overseeing and growing a Bible Work program, to having to hire a part-time Bible Worker Coordinator, to transitioning to a full-time Bible Worker Coordinator at Pioneer Memorial Church.
But first, what is a Bible Worker? In my faith tradition, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, this is someone who trains and mentors church members to follow-up on people who have made decisions for baptism, and then prepares them through a series of Bible studies for their baptism. I’m not really excited about the title Bible Worker, actually—I’m sure there are some much better names—but for our purposes we’ll continue with that title in this post. So a Bible Worker is primarily in the training and equipping business.
So what’s needed to launch a program?
1. Bible Study and Baptismal Interests
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s important to highlight it. You may be involved in the community, you may be training people to give Bible Studies, but if you don’t have a baptismal interest to connect them to, the church members will quickly lose interest.
One of the best ways to receive baptismal and Bible study decisions is through using a response card. We call ours a Connect Card and I describe the process here. You can check out the whole series I did on our discipleship process here. In short, we challenge attenders at church to take some kind of next step every week. Just by using this process, in the first year that we implemented the Connect Card at PMC, we nearly doubled our amount of baptisms. It’s something I’m really passionate about. I’m convinced that if you’re not making appeals for baptism in your church using a response card, you’re leaving baptisms on the table.
We get baptismal decisions in various ways. One of them is through our weekly church service as described above. There are lots of ways to get Bible study and baptismal interests including weeks of prayers, mailing Bible study interest cards in the community, from literature evangelism teams that go through your area, and more.
2. Begin With Simple Training
I think most pastors and church members want to train their people to give Bible studies, but they often get stuck because they’ve never done it before. They don’t know what to do or what to teach and they think they need to bring in some expert from somewhere.
I want to share with you how I did my first training seminar on this topic. It’s embarrassingly simple. I pulled out some of my class notes from my undergrad on personal evangelism and began writing out some of the points and principles. Then I taught it. That’s it.
The first evangelism series that I ever presented was quite similar. I watched one of my former professors, Dr Russell Burrill, giving a prophecy seminar on video, and I pretty much wrote down every word he said. Then I taught it.
What’s my point by sharing this? You need to start somewhere. Don’t be embarrassed about that. Innovation will come. But first, master the basics. Learn from others. So present whatever you have. As you continue to teach these evangelism principles and live them out in your life, you will discover new things that you will then incorporate.
What do we present?
There are a few basics that we cover in our Bible Work Training.
-The Secret To Soul Winning (This covers the basics and importance of spending time with God personally)
-How To Share Your Personal Testimony (I describe my own process here).
-What To Do the First Time You Meet With Someone. (I wrote a little about that here).
-Tips For A Successful Bible Study
-Common Mistakes In A Bible Study
-Leading to a Decision and Dealing With Objections
Once again, I wouldn’t get too caught up with the exact topics here. The more you do these and work with people, they more you will probably tweak these slightly.
3. Train Twice a Year, At Least
We hold these evangelism intensives twice a year over a weekend. Right now each weekend has about six hours worth of teaching and training and is primarily taught by Tabitha Umali, our Bible Worker Coordinator. The first training event I did, though, was just three hours long. You can teach the basics in very little time.
At the moment these are event-based trainings. They last a weekend. But for our next GROW group semester, we’d like to experiment with doing some of these in the context of a GROW group that lasts 8-12 weeks in length.
4. Setup a Monthly Coaching Program
We have developed a philosophy in our program: brief training, but ongoing coaching. We want to get people involved as quickly as possibly, but support them along the way. In fact, we get people involved before they finish the weekend training. The last few hours of the event are devoted to pairing the trainees together, and then giving them an interest to follow-up on. Part of how we’ve tweaked the program is that we send people out with the goal of setting a baptismal date on the first day in which they meet with the interest. You can read more about that here.
We held our last training just a few weeks ago, and it was a real pleasure to see the results. Many of those that attended went out with a partner, and when they returned to debrief with the group, many of them came back with baptismal dates of when their interests would like to be baptized.
What do we do in this monthly gathering?
This is a one-hour gathering for the purpose of sharing advanced Bible work principles, sharing testimonies, mentoring and accountability, and praying together for our interests.
5. Implement a System of Accountability and Oversight
We launched this latest piece just this past week. Tabitha Umali, our Bible Worker Coordinator, does a great job. But she had been overseeing around 50 Bible Workers and they’ve been reporting directly to her. It became too cumbersome, so we knew that we needed to add another layer called Team Leaders. A Team Leader is a person who is experienced in giving Bible studies who will then oversee 4-5 Bible Workers.
They have four main responsibilities:
- Pray for their Bible Workers every day
- Communicate with their Bible Workers once a week by text, phone, email, or in person
- Make sure that the Bible Workers update the database
- Attend Team Leader monthly meetings
This streamlines the process tremendously. In this model, there are only about ten people that she needs to be in touch with—her Team Leaders. She is coaching them and they are coaching the others and making sure that they keep the databases updated.
That’s the gist of the system.
What software do we use?
I’m almost embarrassed to say that we don’t use anything fancy. I’m familiar with the Disciples software that a lot of churches use. In my experience that’s a great system to use if you just have one person who makes updates. Beyond that, it seems to become a little cumbersome. I have not been able to figure it out, anyway.
So are you ready to hear what we use? Drum roll, please: Google Docs. Yup. That’s it. I know some of you are really disappointed—I shall hang my head in shame. But all kidding aside, it works for what we need. We can easily share the doc with as many as we need to. It’s simple. We have a church database software called Shelby Arena that we paid a pretty penny for, and eventually we’ll move our interests to that system, but for now we’re doing just fine.
What Bible studies do we use?
We have different kinds of Bible studies sets that we use depending upon people’s preferences, but the one we have been using the most lately is Truth Link. They’re written by Ty Gibson and I really like the approach he takes in the series.
How do you recruit people?
How do you get people excited about Bible Work and coming to the trainings? Testimonies. The more church members hear stories from up front of people who are being baptized as a result of this process, it will create excitement.
When people are baptized at PMC, we always get them to record a video testimony that we play at their baptism. It includes three simple questions: a) tell us a little of your story b) what brought you to this decision to want to be baptized and c) how do you want God to use you in the future? I still remember the first time when we were recording someone’s testimony and they said something like this: “I was in the church service one day, and Pastor Dwight asked us to pull out the Connect Card. He invited us to make a decision for baptism and I filled out a Connect Card. A few days later Tabitha contacted me and we began studying together and here I am.” There is the process full circle.
When the church hears someone share their testimony like this, it’s electric. People get excited. They will want to be involved. Alternately, you can bring people up front and interview them for a testimony segment.
Ok, I think that’s it for now. Those are the basics. By the way, if you’re not already subscribed to this blog and you’re interested in this topic, make sure to subscribe below. I’ll often update blog posts like these and you can stay in the loop with the latest.
So what about you? Have you ever done a Bible Worker training in your church? What would you add to the list here? To leave a comment scroll below or click here.