BaptistWay literature fosters
more Texas identity at Columbus Avenue
By John Hall
Texas Baptist Communications
WACO–Columbus Avenue Baptist Church has no problem attracting worshippers. It draws more than 1,200 a week.
But disciples aren't made and a spirit of community isn't built in a crowd, according to Garry Bone, the church's minister of education.
| “The writers are people you trust. It's just going to be Scripture.”
The church's Sunday School connects members through Bible study and serves as a launching pad for ministry, Bone said. It provides the forum for the church's largest gathering time and an important time for community building.
Whether churches call small groups studies, cells or Sunday School classes, the key is relationships, Bone believes. Such small groups are capable of meeting the emotional, social and spiritual needs of each member if done well, he noted.
Class members support each other through their struggles and celebrate accomplishments together. They study the Bible together and grow spiritually, and the study encourages them to minister outside the church, Bone said.
While many of the church's classes are divided by age group, several classes are designed to allow people to find a more broadly defined group with which they feel comfortable connecting, Bone continued.
To help new members enter Bible study, Bone regularly creates new classes. This helps newcomers feel more welcome, rather than feeling they must break in to an established group.
“Your Sunday School has to be the connecting point of the church,” he said.
At Columbus Avenue, Bone also has discovered that Baptist General Convention of Texas Bible study literature helps a wide variety of the church's classes. The BaptistWay material encourages strong biblical study and evangelical outreach, he said.
“It's really important that your literature be a help to what you are doing,” he said, noting the curriculum uses respected Texas writers who avoid politics and provide key scriptural insight that helps teachers.
“It's fresh,” Bone said. “The writers are people you trust. It's just going to be Scripture.”
The illustrations and lesson outlines are particularly helpful, Bone noted. They help teachers relate the Scripture to their students but allow enough flexibility to let them use their own gifts to tailor the lesson to the class.
Gene Pitman, a former missionary who teaches a class for internationals, found resource materials posted on the Internet to be a further help in his study. The Internet material is more understandable for his students, many of whom have difficulty with complex sentence structures.
Throughout the church, the BGCT literature has helped create a greater sense of identity, Bone said. “It has helped us focus on who we are. We are Texas Baptists.”
For more information about the BaptistWay curriculum, visit www.baptistwaypress.org or call (800) 355-5285.