What's Next? Unpacks Discipleship and Giving Away BEP
COLUMBUS, Ohio – In what may well become known as a landmark gathering, the What’s Next? Lunch with Doug Clay powered by Bible Engagement Project (BEP), witnessed the launching of new era in the Assemblies of God. General Superintendent Doug Clay announced that in the same spirit of the 1914 writers of the resolution committing to the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen, the Assemblies of God is now also committing to the greatest discipleship that the world has ever seen.
Held in the Battelle hall of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the event used a Q&A format to allow Clay to share the reasoning, purpose, and plan to accomplish the goal of completing the Great Commission with this generation.
Jay Mooney, chief Ministries and Resources officer for the AG national office, served as emcee and interviewer. He began the segment by announcing another landmark decision — that the Bible Engagement Project digital platform had been released Saturday as a free disciple-making resource to the global Church.
Clay responded to questions that took the several hundred in attendance through the journey that led to giving BEP away and committing to discipleship as a Fellowship.
He shared that his core values for the Fellowship of Bible engagement, Spirit empowerment, and missions participation, noting that they are what has given the Assemblies of God ministry effectiveness.
However, biblical literacy — or illiteracy — has become a primary focus for Clay. He shares that many Christians no longer have a biblical worldview simply because they don’t know the Word of God has to say.
“My conviction is to irradicate biblical illiteracy in our Fellowship,” Clay stated. He also pointed out what appeared to resonate strongly with the leaders present: in some Pentecostal circles, people are more addicted to their pastor than the Word of God.
Clay also expressed concern that about two decades ago, a shift took place where ministers went from preaching to help their congregations understand the Bible to preaching about how they feel, which left a generation with a shallow faith. However, in recent years, there has been a return to preaching the Bible.
"If we get Bible engagement right,” Clay stated, “many of our other missional activities will be successful."
In response to how the AG and this generation can be capable of completing the Great Commission, Clay said that the AG already has the capability to take the gospel to the entire world, but it will require moving from a “come and see” mentality to a “how can I disperse and multiply” focus.
“I would love to leave a mark that we raised the bar of biblical literacy in the U.S. Assemblies of God,” Clay said. “We can commit ourselves to Him to be the greatest discipling church the world has ever seen because disciples who produce disciples who produce disciples have the ability to fulfill the Great Commission.”
Clay, who sought God and counsel with the ELT and Executive Presbytery about this urgency placed on his heart, says as he received confirmation, he turned the effort over to DuBose.
As DuBose now joined the discussion with Clay and Mooney, DuBose said that he realized that whatever was to be done had to have a long-term focus. He turned to Barna research, brought in pastors, met with educators, and sought advice from others to help determine what it would look like to make the AG, through the next generation, “the most biblically literate denomination on the face of the earth.”
However, through this journey, DuBose discovered something that may have surprised the Pentecostal audience.
“We learned that people who engaged in Scripture regularly are more likely to live biblically than people who just speak in tongues,” he said.
DuBose then went on to explain the importance of having a base of learning to build on, level by level, and how for too long there had been preaching to be attractional rather than transformational.
“We also learned that people learn more and faster in a group setting,” he said. Identifying groups as the church, then departments, ministries, and small groups, he noted that the most important group, yet virtually ignored, was the family and that group had to be brought back into the mix of teaching/building biblical literacy.
DuBose, responding to Mooney, went on to explain BEP and how it creates a reinforcing process as the family, children, youth, and adults are all learning the same thing, allowing entire families to be on the same page as they go through five days of devotions through the week and walk through the Bible together.
As the research revealed, DuBose says BEP is built on a layering system. The first year, called Listen, introduces the full story of God and man, teaching people how to listen to the story and the voice of God. Learn is the second 40-week layer, which focuses on what God is really trying to show people through His Word. And the third, Live, is a strong emphasis on the New Testament and the gospels that teaches how to live as a follower of Christ.
Clay and DuBose both responded to the challenging question of giving away the high-quality and, therefore costly, BEP digital app with its years of already highly praised materials and more than 600 high-quality support videos.
DuBose was honest as the idea of giving BEP away was not on his radar. However, as he went to God about it, He kept pointing out how He could use it and the realization came to DuBose that BEP was not his creation, it was God’s.
Clay said he was challenged by the faith his parents and other pioneers of the faith had in stepping out and trusting God to provide. He also expressed his deep concern for the young people of the Fellowship, saying how the stakes were too high for young people to only have experiences while lacking the conviction and knowledge that come with the biblical literacy BEP provides.
In explaining his calling for discipleship to be paired with evangelism for the Movement, Clay stated: “Evangelism and discipleship go hand in hand. The statistics for the AG around the world show that the evangelism piece is there, worship, music, and even prayer are down pat, but discipleship . . .”
As the What’s Next? session drew to a close, DuBose prayed for there to be a desire birthed in the hearts of the Fellowship to know what the Bible says, with Clay asking that the AG be like Josiah, who rediscovered the Word of God in the House of God for the sake of the next generation.
Mooney then provided the opportunity for attendees to be among the first to help fund the cost of not only providing BEP for free, but translating it into multiple languages in order for it to spread throughout the world. In short, it’s a mission to equip every church with free discipleship resource, regardless of a churches size, budget, or location.
In reflection, Clay said that he hoped that through the What Next? session, leaders took with them two vital convictions: to have an even stronger commitment to raising the level of biblical literacy in their churches and throughout the Fellowship; and to raise a generation of young people who have a strong biblical worldview and view the Bible as the primary tool for discipleship.