Influence Conference Launches General Council

Influence Conference Launches General Council

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ORLANDO, Florida – The 58th General Council Influence Conference got underway at the Rosen Centre Wednesday where 33 breakout sessions throughout the afternoon were offered. Topics varied widely, covering everything from Managing Transition and How to Build a Leadership Pipeline to Creating a Multiethnic Church and Multicultural Children’s Ministry Dynamics.

In the We Don’t Do Sunday School; Now What? breakout session, Jon Catron, senior director for the Bible Engagement Project, opened by explaining that Sunday School has been replaced by many churches with small groups and life groups, which have created community, but has often left a gap when it comes to a systematic study of God’s Word.

“We have to do something to get the Word back at the center of the Church . . . the method is not the important thing, the Message is,” he says.

Catron shared the Luke 24 story where the two disciples finally realize it was Jesus, risen from the dead, explaining Scripture to them. “They said, ‘Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He opened up Scripture to us?’ Our question became, what can we do to position our church and people to have that same moment . . ., that same type of journey”

In evaluating the lack of engagement with the Bible, accessibility is not the problem.

“God is calling us back to His Word,” Catron says. “We have to create a culture of hunger for God’s Word.”

Catron with Ryan Horn, director of advancement for the Bible Engagement Project; Kristen Tetteh, product manager for Faithlife Corporation; and Mike Brown, customer success manager for Faithlife, then began to open up a partnership with Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software, that is creating a groundbreaking new curriculum designed to be used with small groups, life groups, and Sunday Schools.

“Most people who are frequently encountering Scripture have a biblical worldview,” Horn notes. “[However] many people lack a biblical worldview and are unable to discern between God’s way and the world’s way.”

The new curriculum, being written by AG church leaders across the nation, is called Listen. Horn explains: “You don’t go to the Bible to read, you go to listen. Listen to what God says. When you open that Book, it’s alive.”

A 40-week, systematic study of the Bible, Listen offers both community and personal exploration of God’s Word.

The partnership with Faithlife comes in with the combining of the curriculum with an AG curated Logos Bible Software.

“We’ve digitized dozens of AG books [AG documentation, theology, church distinctives, and individual authors such as Stanley Horton and George Wood) and have several AG-endorsed libraries to choose from,” Brown says. “These libraries are searchable by topic, theme, passage — if you wanted to know if someone in the AG library has done something on a specific passage, you could find out.”

Tetteh says that they have a team of 400 people at Logos. “We are developing an app that will be available to all churches,” she says. “It will deliver Listen curriculum straight into living rooms.”

The curriculum, which incorporates video segments into each lesson, is age-aligned, meaning all ages are going through the same content at the same time, only at age-appropriate levels, which, Horn says, lends itself to family discussion and discipleship. Listen will be available through an app as well as print.

“When we looked to partner with someone [for the new curriculum], we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose doctrinal integrity — and Faithlife/Logos offered that,” Horn states. “It [Logos] is the best Bible study tool on the planet.”

Although the curriculum portion of Listen and app won’t be completed until August 2020, the Logos software with AG-endorsed libraries — along with additional information — are already available through the Bible Engagement Project website or through its booth (#800) in the Exhibition Hall.

“People ask if this is a product or a conversation about culture,” Catron says. “The answer is yes — it’s both.”

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