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‘Disciple’ Bible study gets makeover, adds two 8-week classes

 


‘Disciple’ Bible study gets makeover, adds two 8-week classes

May 16, 2005

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)—In the past 20 years, more than a million people have graduated from a “Disciple” Bible study class.

A million is not enough for the editors at the United Methodist Publishing House. They know from listening to their customers that more would have access to the Bible study if a few changes were made.

“ ‘Disciple’ has become an integral part of the faith formation process in many congregations in this country and around the world,” said Harriett Jane Olson, senior vice president for publishing. “We hope that these changes will open that possibility to even more congregations.”

Among the changes, new eight-week sessions will be offered, and new videos are being produced for “Disciple I.” Training seminars for facilitators are being shortened and will become optional for churches offering the Bible study. Ordering procedures are being simplified, and copies will be available in Cokesbury retail stores.

Until now, “Disciple” required leaders to attend a three-day training session. Bob Shell, director of Cokesbury Seminars, said customers now understand the small-group process that is integral to “Disciple.” Beginning this year, training will be highly recommended but no longer required for a church to participate in Disciple I, II, III, IV, “Christian Believer” or “Jesus in the Gospels” programs.

“We are listening to our customers,” Shell said. “We believe that making “Disciple” more accessible will help more churches get involved.”

Training seminars will also be shortened. Two-day “Disciple I” training classes will still be offered, but participants will have the option of attending only the second day. Single-day training will be available for the other studies too, Shell said.

Seminars are being made more affordable by waiving the requirement that participants stay in a hotel even if they live in the surrounding area. Training will be held in venues other than hotels. The option to use other venues—such as churches, retreat centers and university campuses—will help reach congregations and leaders in new locations, Shell said.

A training DVD for “Disciple I” will be available for churches in June, with more than 100 minutes from “Disciple I” training seminars.

Buying “Disciple” resources will become easier. “Disciple” resources have been sold in kits for groups of 12 participants since the beginning of the series. Now planning kits will contain a set of videos (VHS or DVD available), a participant resource and a leader’s guide, packaged in a briefcase. Study manuals, leader’s guides, videos and all other components can also be bought separately.

“Disciple” will no longer be restricted to Cokesbury church accounts, and the study will be available in Cokesbury retail stores.

Though more than one million people have participated in the 34-week, in-depth programs, many cannot commit to such long-term studies, Olson said. Two eight-week in-depth Bible studies will be available.

“The goal is to introduce and in many cases reintroduce ‘Disciple’ Bible study to hundreds of congregations that haven’t yet experienced the substantive, in-depth Bible study that ‘Disciple’ affords,” said Mark Price, senior editor for “Disciple” editorial.

Invitation to the New Testament will be available in July, and Invitation to the Old Testament will be available in August. For each study, participants will be expected to prepare daily, and each program includes weekly group meetings with video presentation and group discussion.

For more information about “Disciple,” call (800) 672-1789, go online to www.cokesbury.com or visit a Cokesbury store.
*Information for this story came from Around the House, a monthly staff newsletter of the United Methodist Publishing House.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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