AG Resources Helping Move the Needle Past Biblical Literacy to Biblical Fluency
The Assemblies of God is resourcing families and churches to help them move from biblical literacy to biblical fluency and turn their knowledge of Scripture into evangelism.The Assemblies of God has placed a strong priority on helping church-goers move beyond “biblical literacy” into “biblical fluency” — pursuing a deeply-grounded, life-directing understanding of the Word of God. The Bible Engagement Project, created for that purpose, is helping churches around the country by supplying high-quality, now free, curricula for people of all ages to study together.
“As the world moves further away from the assumptions of a Christian worldview, more people are recognizing how much they have to rely on a Christian worldview to maintain their identity in this society,” says Allen Tennison, theological counsel for the AG and formerly the dean of the ministry college at North Central University.
The foundations of that identity may be threatened. Recently, a survey conducted by the Barna Group for the AG showed concerning gaps in biblical literacy among young adults and others, says Elly C. Marroquin, national director of Christian Education & Discipleship. She says several factors, including a trend toward thematic preaching and a tendency in some churches to de-emphasize Sunday school, have had an impact on biblical knowledge.
“Many people haven’t been going through the entirety of God’s Word,” Marroquin says. “If you don’t know God’s Word, you can’t live it.”
To equip churches, families, and individuals to engage with the Bible, the AG invested in and produced the Bible Engagement Project (BEP), a long-term, strategic curriculum to promote breadth and depth of knowledge of the Word of God.
“The Bible Engagement Project intentionally goes from Genesis to Revelation to allow the learner to develop the grand narrative of Scripture and build a solid foundation of God’s redemptive mission,” says Marroquin. “It helps people put on the lens of Scripture to process everyday life and let the Bible inform the way they live.”
According to Tennison, Biblical fluency begins with learning the story of the Bible and becoming familiar with major figures like Abraham, David, the prophets, and Jesus Christ — then learning to apply biblical truths to their own lives.
“When the Bible becomes my personal narrative, now I’m consciously living a biblically-informed life,” he says. “I understand my role in the church and my responsibility to the world God has created. We move from information to formation. We allow the Christian faith to inform our decision-making and our understanding of every issue.”
In Houston, Texas, Melissa and Jay Alfaro have served as lead pastors of El Tabernaculo (Tab Church) for 14 years. The church began using the Bible Engagement Project curriculum several years ago in its women’s ministry and has steadily added it to more age groups and departments in both English and Spanish.
“We’re very excited about it,” says Melissa, who also serves as an executive presbyter. “Our Spanish women’s ministry jumped on board last year and we have loved it better than any kind of book study we’ve ever done.”
Recently developed resources like BEP empower people to dig into the Bible together in small groups with seasoned facilitators leading discussions, she says. “A lot of clarity comes out of that, even for people who have attended church all their lives.”
One woman, a deacon and board member at the church, says the BEP’s approach has caused her and her husband to have more-frequent, intentional conversations about applying the Word of God to everyday living.
Newly released and additional upcoming curriculum from Marroquin’s department, such as the 7 Dimensions of a Spirit-Filled Disciple, also aim to create opportunities for people to learn how to move beyond understanding and invite the Holy Spirit into their study and their everyday lives.
Tennison says biblical fluency is a critical part of Pentecostal practice.
“The more you know about the Bible, the more you give the Holy Spirit to work with,” he says. “He’s not going to bring scriptures to mind that you don’t know, but ones you do.”
Marroquin affirms that a major goal of each study is “to develop the skills to discern God’s voice and teach others how to do the same, so you and your family know the voice of God and know it’s the Holy Spirit that’s speaking to you,” she says. “You learn to discern the voice of culture, your own voice, and God’s voice. Every lesson asks, ‘What am I hearing God say and how does he want me to activate this truth, this week?’”
The Christian Education and Discipleship’s existing and forthcoming curriculum also stresses the importance of strong communities where “you’re intentional, doing life on a journey with others to walk with Jesus,” says Marroquin.
Family devotionals are a major focus for the department and are written to engage the entire family in Scripture and to equip parents to successfully lead their children in understanding and living out God’s Word. With the help of a recent Lily Foundation grant, Marroquin and her team are developing a “direct to parents” resource to even further push the family into biblical fluency.
“Family devotionals create a win for the parents and place discipleship where it needs to be,” Marroquin says. She champions the idea of making disciples who make disciples.
The goal is for children to ground every decision in the counsel of God’s Word, “a skill that will create resilient disciples able to stand in the tumultuous waters of culture,” she says.
Bible Engagement Project is available on a resource-rich app, with every lesson designed to “get people talking, participating, and extracting truth from God’s Word together,” Marroquin says. “The best teacher is the Holy Spirit, and we’re making room for him.”
Alfaro calls the Project “a goldmine.”
The 7 Dimensions of a Spirit-Filled Disciple also offers free resources in both English and Spanish.
“I think our fellowship needs to dig into the richness of God’s word through this systematic curriculum,” says the Houston pastor.