Monday, March 14, 2011

The Wesley Study Bible as a Ministry Resource

Bill Thrasher, our pastor at Sand Springs UMC, is a strong leader in Christian education of his flock. He noted how the Wesley Study Bible, which I had the honor of editing with Joel Green, had become a help to him in his work in Christian formation of the young. He wrote to me recently urging all our churches to use the Wesley Study Bible in their Confirmation Classes and work with their students.

I’ve also done a book that is keyed to the WSB, This We Believe (Abingdon) that is keyed to the WSB. - Will Willimon

Sometimes I wonder, who appreciates Wesleyan theology and doctrine more, those who grew up in the church or those of us who became part of the UMC much later in life? Of course, since I chose to become a United Methodist because of the doctrine, I think those like me are more appreciative. This anecdotal observation comes from watching, listening, conversations, and attending school with other local pastors and elders as well. Wesleyan theology is a great gift.

My journey began when I was twelve years old and my father, an evangelical bi-vocational preacher of another denomination, noticed that I lay upon my bed reading my Bible hours upon hours at a time. He bought me my first Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. In a way, since Thompson was an ordained Methodist elder and pastor, his Bible was the forerunner to the Wesleyan Study Bible. Then my father told me something very out of character for him. He said, “Son, don’t listen to what man says. Don’t even listen to what I say. Pray and study this Bible the way I showed you and the Holy Spirit will teach you the truth”. I applied this to my life. As a result, I preached and taught Wesleyan theology without even knowing it. The truth of the Scripture led me to Wesleyan beliefs and practice of theology.

With this in mind, recently in a quiet time with the Lord, I wondered how we could build stronger Wesleyans. Recalling how the Thompson Bible and God’s Holy Spirit led me into the United Methodist Church, I realized that if we could get our young people to use the Wesley Study Bible beginning at an early age, we would produce generations of stronger Wesleyan adults. The Wesley Study Bible ought to be the Bible of choice to give to all of the young people in our congregations.

It is our custom in our congregation to give a young person a Bible as part of their confirmation training. Why don’t we use the WSB during the confirmation classes and then give the student a WSB upon completing confirmation? How about presenting it to seniors when they graduate from High School? It is very Wesleyan to do, don’t you think?

Blessings to you and yours, and to our church,

William H. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Sand Springs UMC
Gordo, AL 35466

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Thanks Bishop Willimon for posting Rev. Thrasher's comments regarding the WSB. I have been wondering what I should give to my confirmation students as they prepare to be members in the UMC. This is a great idea, and since I love the WSB as well what a great way to "pass it on!"

Rev. Aaron Kesson