This is a list of the things that need to be done and that this ministry would like to accomplish, but that we cannot accomplish with our present staff—and we’re all volunteers because there’s no money to hire anybody. Right now it’s me part time plus occasional help from family and friends. Here are the things we see as needing to be done. (Reasons why we need to do these things are given below.) If you’d like to help, please use the Contact page to let us know.
A new Bible translation
New materials to teach children about God and Christianity
New materials to teach adults about God and Christianity
New materials to teach Christian leaders about how to lead for success
All of these are available, so why do we need something new? Please read on:
A New Bible Translation
We need a new translation of the Bible that’s easy to read and understand while providing what’s needed for a serious reader to do serious study. Here are the problems we see with present translations:
- The language: Even the modern translations of the Bible use careful wording that feels awkward to most people. We talk in contractions. We don’t care if a preposition dangles now and then. We don’t follow all the rules. And we need a Bible that’s written that way—so that the power of the message comes through on our level. We are working on this right now.
- Names of People and Places: Every translation of the Bible I’ve found includes many names of people and places that are difficult to pronounce. In fact, nobody really knows how these names were pronounced—not even the scholars who claim to know. For the names of places, in most cases either the names are well known and generally easy to pronounce or the names don’t need to be included—we can just say what kind of place it was and, if it’s important, approximately where it was. Similarly, people whose names are mentioned frequently in the Bible are generally names we still use so there is no problem with those names. For the difficult names that are not often used, we can simply refer to a man or a woman, putting the names in the footnotes for anyone who really cares.
- The Order of the Books-1: Every complete Bible I’ve ever seen always begins with the Old Testament—sixty-six books of material, most of which is of little if any interest to most Christians, especially new Christians starting out to try to understand what Christianity is. Most people start at the beginning, and it doesn’t take long to get bogged down in stuff that really isn’t that helpful for a new Christian. So most Christians quit trying right there. New Christians need to start out in the New Testament, and Christian Bibles really should start with the New Testament at the beginning.
- The Order of the Books-2: When you get to the New Testament, every complete New Testament I’ve ever found starts with four gospel accounts that tell the same story, and especially in the first three a lot of the material is simply repeated. Again, most readers get bogged down by the time they get to the middle of Luke. We are working on a translation of the gospels right now that combines all four gospel accounts into a single message that tells the whole story of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension in one single account that is easy to read.
- The Order of the Books-3: If you get past the gospels, you come to Acts, and that’s what should come next. It’s a great account that can hold a person’s interest. But then come Paul’s letters. Of course they’re arranged in the order in which he wrote them—NOT! In fact, they’re arranged in order of size, from longest to shortest, with no way to know which comes first and how they fit into the account of Paul’s ministry in Acts. We want our translation to have them in chronological order (at least to the degree possible) and with links to say where they fit in the account in Acts.
- Background Information: Our culture and experience is very, very different from the culture of New Testament times. There are many places in the Bible where it’s important to include notes about New Testament times and culture. There are also many places where notes are needed, not just to point to some passage in the Old Testament, but to explain how that passage (or those passages) help the reader understand what’s going on.
This is a huge job, but it really needs to be done. If you’d like to help, please contact us.
New Materials for Children
Any good teacher knows that in order to teach effectively, you need a plan. This plan should include a defined start point where the students are expected to be at the beginning of the study, a defined end point where the students are expected to be at the end of the study, and plan for getting from the start point to the end point, and specific points where the students will be questioned to determine if the teacher has succeeded in communicating the material.
Each set of lessons should fit into a larger plan to take children from early pre-K lessons (mostly music and very simple statements) to the completion of high school. This larger plan should consider the difficulties both in learning and in social and personal growth during this period, and the challenges these lessons are meant to deal with after the student has completed the course.
On top of this, a really good set of lessons must include was to have the students actually apply what they are learning in real life situations. Education without application is a waste.
Children need serious help with the difficulties of growing up: dealing with bullies and cruelty of others during early childhood, dealing with the issues of puberty, dealing with the challenges and responsibilities of young adulthood, and dealing with the challenges that will come from non-Christians.
And for children, the lessons normally should not change from year to year except to refine and improve on what’s already in the plan. That way a first grade teacher can become an expert in teaching the material instead of having the material change every year. (That’s frustrating! But that’s how it’s done now!)
Of course, materials like this also need a way to deal with students who come into the program at different times and who therefore need remedial training. With today’s media options, that can be handled.
Bottom line, we need materials that provide a Christian education at least as sensible as what children get in public school.
On top of this, we also need materials for children who have the opportunity for lessons more than once a week. In our country (as of this writing) it’s legally OK for churches to take children out of school for one period a day for religious study at a church facility. Even if that right were to go away, there’s no reason churches couldn’t work together to provide at least some lessons on weeknights along with some help with homework (assuming churches can work together).
And one of the big challenges is getting people who are willing and able to teach. But if we had the lessons in good multi-media form with very gifted teachers and leaders involved in presenting the lesson, many more Christians might be willing to teach. (And if more Christians really understood what Christianity really is, more might understand the commitment and sacrifice that Christ demands of them.)
The task is so huge it’s almost limitless. We haven’t even made a decent start on this one.
New Materials for Adults
As with children, study materials for adults (if we’re going to be serious) need a plan with a start point, an end point, verification of lessons learned, and application of lessons learned.
Unlike children, adults don’t need graded lessons with all adults following the same path. However, teachers for adult lessons need to repeat their classes to different adult groups year after year for at least 3 to 5 years so that they become experts in the material. (For small churches this may not be possible unless an arrangement can be made with other churches to swap adult teachers around among the churches.)
Every Christian is called to ministry, and this is especially true as adults. We need lesson materials that are really challenging and that will really enable us to accomplish the ministries to which God is calling us.
Materials for adults also need to deal with the social needs of fellowship as Christians. It’s not all about nose to the grind wheel. The second fruit of the Spirit is joy, and all Christians need to find joy and strong fellowship in their Christianity.
Our first beginning in this area is the book Revitalizing Christianity with the study guide Revitalizing Christianity Study Guide. This is a good beginning, and there are other good studies available, but there is much, much more to be done.
New Materials for Christian Leaders
Teachers in adult classes need to have materials that help them know how to teach in ways that really work so that the students will retain and use the lessons taught. Teachers need to learn how to get discussions started that will get people thinking. (The primary secret is knowing when and how to shut up.) Teachers need guidance on how to select materials for study. Teachers need guidance on how to find and inspire others to take over the teaching. (Revitalizing Christianity Study Guide provides an appendix with many helps for Christian teachers, but there’s much more to do.)
Professional leaders in churches need to learn to stop thinking of themselves as “the ministers” and start thinking of themselves as those who lead, train, encourage, and empower the members who are the real ministers. God ordains every Christian to some aspect of the Christian ministry for which that person is gifted. We need the professional leaders to help us get going in the right directions and to organize the overall effort, but we don’t need them to be “the ministers.”
Those who speak as teachers or “preachers” (the biblical term for what most “preachers” do is actually prophecy) need to realize that in our culture, attention spans are not and will not be long. A thirty-minute or longer message is generally just that much wasted breath. People just can’t take it all in and retain it. How much better to really work on the message until you can deliver what’s important in just a few minutes (15 or less) so that people have something they can take home with them. And instead of strict lecture, how about getting the listeners involved in repeating back important key words and phrases so that they’ll be more likely to take those words and phrases home and incorporate them into their lives.
Professional leaders need to be trained to work with real plans and to look for the real needs. A leader who speaks about the evils of the world—evils that at least for the most part are not things that apply to the people who are there to listen—wastes his time, God’s time, and the time of the people who come to listen. Talking about atheists and homosexuals and abortionists and drunkards and gamblers and drug abusers and such to a group that includes people who have absolutely no contact with any of these is not good leadership. People are struggling in their family lives and they need God’s help. People are struggling with how to live their Christianity in their community and they need God’s help. People are struggling with how to understand which doctrines they hear about are right and which are wrong and how to know the difference. (Love of God and love of others is the primary standard of judgment.) People get into situations where any choice they make will be wrong, and they need God’s help understanding how to deal with those situations.
And professional leaders need to be trained to understand that no leader can have all the right answers and know how best to deal with all the situations. They need to be trained to not only look for help in emergencies, but how to look for help all the time.
Speaking of looking for help, professional leaders need to be taught to be open to God’s Holy Spirit working through non-professionals. One of the problems of the religious authorities of the Jews in New Testament times was that they couldn’t accept that God would work through someone outside of their group. Too many professional Christian leaders get into the same trap—one of Satan’s favorites.
This is only the beginning. Again, we’ve made a start here, and some of it’s in Revitalizing Christianity, but there’s much, much more to do.
WE NEED HELP!!! Please pray that God will send the workers to do the work in the way he would want it done.