How you approach the Bible makes all the difference. See what makes our approach work.
People often come to the text of the Bible hoping to extract a few useful tips on how to live the good life. We want the gift of patience, a way to handle despair, or advice on choosing good friends. We want a better life. Approach the Bible that way you’ll be reading in the dark.
The truth is that the Bible is a historical drama unfolding from first to last with Jesus Christ as the central character. Who Jesus is and what he did in history makes all the difference. Jesus made a bold claim. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We embrace the claim of Jesus that “these are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” The Bible is the account of the only true Light of the world. Approach the Bible that way and you’ll be reading with the lights on.
For every passage in the Bible there are literally hundreds of interpretive choices. Yet for each passage of Scripture there is one meaning that is better than the others. How can we know which one is the right one? Is it possible to reliably interpret the meaning of the Bible? Absolutely.
At St. Stephen Lutheran we engage the text of Scripture directly. We read it in every Sunday service and encourage our members to read it at home. We stick with it even when it doesn’t seem to make sense at first. We are taught by a pastor who has made the study of the Bible is full-time vocation, but we also search the Scriptures ourselves to ensure that what he preaches and teaches is in line with the Bible. We work to discover what the text of the Bible meant in its original, historical context. We also don’t read the Bible as a list of rules for our own personal improvement, but see it as Jesus himself saw it—as the unfolding story of Christ’s salvation of the world.
With a Christ-centered approach to interpretation we can trust that our understanding of the Bible is indeed reliable. We trust that the Bible is not primarily about us, but about Jesus. And that makes all the difference.
We take the time to build a solid curriculum of Christian education, but a good curriculum can only go so far. Christians young and old need to eat, smell, and breathe the air of the Bible around themselves in the home. We’re glad to offer formal Bible studies in the church—but that’s what you’d expect from a church. But families engaged with the Word of God at home—that’s often overlooked.
Study after study demonstrate that the most effective place for faith-formation is in the Christian home. Lutherans in particular enjoy the centuries-old heritage of Christian education. Lutherans have historically located the teaching of the faith in homes, not the church buildings. This had the effect of locating Christian formation in the intimacy of families, where children and parents drew direct connections between religious instruction and the lives of people that loved them.
Our classes at St. Stephen offer the Lutheran distinctive of bringing the Bible into the homes of our people. We seek to equip families—especially fathers—to be the primary teachers of the faith to their children.
We use modern instructional methods at St. Stephen Lutheran. Classroom instruction uses teaching models influenced by current research on how adults and children learn. Classes are not primarily lectures but rely on interaction between the class participants. We also work to use innovative technology to bring the content of our classes into the home, where we believe they can do the most good for growing the faith of our members.
We know these methods may need to change based on new information, but we’re willing to make the effort to stay current on this and use modern instruction whenever appropriate.