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"How do I get people beyond sitting for sermons to saturating themselves in the Scriptures?"

by Dr. Harry Wendt, Founder and Author of Crossways International®

How do I get people "hooked on God's Book?" This question has remained with me during my 20 years of parish ministry (in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States), my four years of graduate studies, and my 25 years with Crossways International.

The Beginning

After graduating from seminary in Adelaide, South Australia in December 1955, I began serving my first parish in New Zealand. The parish spanned 175 miles. The "home base" consisted of four preaching places. I also served in five additional locations on a monthly basis.

It can happen that when we graduate from seminary, we do so believing that we know all that we need to know about the Bible, and that the whole world will soon beat a path to our church door. In my case, six months of preparing weekly sermons, coping with administrative responsibilities, and driving thousands of miles led me to suspect that I did not have all the answers.

Providing spiritual edification and instruction in my first parish proved challenging. Some worshipers expected me to preach sermons that were enlightening and enjoyable–and to assume the responsibility for the spiritual education of their children. However, I was becoming increasingly aware of my limitations as a teacher–and sought ways to develop my skills in relation to this aspect of my ministry.

Getting "hooked by the book"

As I grew in my understanding of what effective teaching entailed, I realized that, biblically, I could only lift others as high as I myself had been lifted. So, in 1967 (together with my wonderful wife and two children) I traveled to the United States to begin graduate studies. Initially, my intention was to major in Adult Education. However, the first semester in graduate school convinced me that my major problem was my own biblical illiteracy–and that my primary focus must be biblical studies. I also grew in my conviction that if I really understood the Bible's "big story" in depth, I would most certainly devise ways to teach it. I would have to! I began to understand what "prophetic compulsion" was all about.

Convictions that fuel our ministry

The following convictions fuel Crossways International's ministry, and may help fuel yours.

  1. If we wish to light a spiritual fire in people's hearts, we must inspire and empower them to study the Scriptures in depth.
  2. To spark and fuel that fire, we must teach people the Bible's "big story," the key themes that weave their way through it, and that Jesus did with that story and those themes.
  3. Teachers must have access to materials that empower them to lift learners from the simple to the sublime.
  4. God's people must be inspired and equipped to get beyond believing in Jesus to following Jesus in servant-discipleship.
  5. If people feel no compulsion to share with others the truths they have studied, they have not understood or been captured by those truths.
  6. In a world where 70% of people are either illiterate or functionally illiterate, tools must be provided to enable people to take the message of the Living Word to those who cannot read written words.
  7. The most important teachers of children are their parents. Although children may not hear everything that their parents say, they watch everything that their parents do.

If you wish to know more about CI's ministry in the United States and around the world, please call us. Rest assured that, during office hours, you'll always talk to a person -- not a machine. We care, and wish to share what God has entrusted to us.

Sincerely,

Dr. Harry Wendt
Founder and Author
Crossways International®


 




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