God is with us in Word and Sacrament

The Best Way to Support Immanuel In the New Year

While it is true that worship is the central activity of our church life, Bible study too holds (or should hold) a prominent place. I encourage each member or friend of Immanuel to make Sunday School/Bible Class a part of your weekly Sunday morning time at Immanuel. If you have not attended a Sunday morning Bible Class at Immanuel recently, I encourage you to start, or restart, that habit.

Here is a list of reasons why—and note how each reason in some way supports Immanuel as a congregation.

1) Attending Bible Study is a benefit to you spiritually. Jesus puts it quite succinctly in John 8:31—32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Psalm 1 reminds that one is blessed to delight in the Law of the Lord, and to meditate on it day and night. God’s Word is to you, as a stream of water is to the roots of a tree. God’s Word gives you strength and life, that you would bear fruit! And the fruit you bear, God uses to benefit others, including your family, your community, your co-workers, and even your congregation. And so Immanuel is strengthened and supported even as you are nurtured in the faith through your participation in Bible Class.

2) Attending Bible Class is a benefit to you mentally. While the most important strength we draw from Scripture is spiritual, it is also true that, as with any book, we stand to gain wisdom which will serve to grow our knowledge and expand our minds. As a pastor I love having people in my Bible classes who are regular attendees because as they learn and grow, they gain knowledge that leads to new and deeper questions. I learn a great deal from those questions, and so do the other members of the class. And so your Bible Study attendance strengthens your mind and knowledge, and that strengthened knowledge is shared with others in comments and questions during Bible classes, and in the sharing, the whole class benefits—and the people of Immanuel are strengthened and supported.

3) Attending Bible Class is an encouragement to others. It encourages others who are in attendance and makes them feel better about being there themselves, and it encourages others who are not yet attending, by setting an example, an example that supports Immanuel and her ministry.

4) Attending Bible class confesses that one does not yet have a mastery of the Scriptures. How many of us lament when we see youth attend Confirmation classes, get confirmed one Sunday, and then never come to another Bible Class again? It’s as if they believe they’ve learned all they need to and now that they’re confirmed, they don’t need Bible class anymore. And yet, aren’t we as adults making the same statement when we decide that we need not attend Bible Class? As the old saying goes: “No one graduates from Bible class until they meet the author face to face.” Even I, your pastor with a seminary education, am nowhere near to having mastered the Bible. This is why I attend monthly circuit gatherings as well as other conferences each year; so that I, too, might grow in my knowledge and understanding of Scripture and thus be a greater benefit to you as your pastor. As we study and grow and learn together in God’s Word, we confess that we need what God’s Word has to give; and that confession is a witness to others. And Immanuel as a congregation is strengthened and supported through our witness.

5) Attending Bible Class helps to equip us for the work God gives us to do. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17) A greater knowledge of Scripture will equip us for a number of things, including bringing its comfort to others who may be in need of it. And our being so equipped benefits and supports those around us, including our family at Immanuel.

6) Attending Bible Class makes the whole Bible Class program at Immanuel all the stronger for our being a part of it. And a strong Bible Class and Sunday School has been found to be a key factor in congregations with healthy growth. There are more than a few surveys that have been done on church membership and attendance. Among them are some conducted by Thom S. Rainier, who shares his results in his book such “Surprising Insights from the Unchurched.” According to Rainier’s research, the most significant factor in an individual or family’s choice to become members of a particular congregation was the strength of their Bible Class/Sunday School program.

I urge you to join us for Bible Class at Immanuel, and (if you are not already doing so) to make it a regular part of your Sunday morning time at Immanuel. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

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