Complete Three Bible Studies for the Gospel of John
Determine Target Audience
From the feedback we received in 2020, we learned that our lessons might be too academic for many small groups. Based on this feedback, we made changes to the lessons in an attempt to make them less academic, but we realize this may still be a problem. It then occurred to us that it might be better to change our target audience from small groups in general to small groups that would be more open to a more academic approach. We decided to reach out to a regional director of InterVarsity to see if our lessons would be helpful to InterVarsity. We received some initial feedback from this director, who did believe our lessons could be helpful with both graduate and undergraduate students. This year we plan to continue to communicate with this director to determine how we can make our lessons as helpful as possible for college students.
We also want to get other small groups to work through our updated lessons to see if they still think they are too academic. If they still find them too academic, we will then try to find out specifically why they think the lessons are too academic. We will then use this feedback to make the lessons less academic whenever possible. This feedback should also help us determine who our target audience should be.
Develop an Initial Financial Game Plan
Up to this point in the ministry, raising financial support has not been a priority because we are retired and don’t need to be paid. However, for the ministry to be successful, we need to add staff, and these staff members will need to be paid. Consequently, it is time to make raising financial support a higher priority. We need to develop a game plan that will make it possible for us to begin adding staff members.
In 2020, we opened a bank account for Word-n-Will. We moved almost $15,000 from our IRAs to this account. We did this using a QCD (qualified charitable distribution). With a QCD the money goes directly from the IRA to the 501c3 non-profit and none of the money is then taxable.
In 2021, we plan to donate additional funds to the Word-n-Will account using QCDs. We have not yet determined how much we will contribute. However, our minimum financial goal for 2021, whether through our use of QCDs or the contributions of others, is to raise enough money so that we have the funds needed to cover the salary of a new full-time staff member for the first year.
Submit Application to Praxis
Recruit More Small Groups to Review the Lessons
We would like to have a least three small groups work through the lessons we have completed this year and to provide us with feedback. We would like at least one of these to be an InterVarsity small group.
As we receive feedback from these groups, we plan to evaluate our feedback process and look for ways to improve it. If someone identifies a problem with a lesson, we need to be able to gain a fuller understanding of this problem so that we can determine what if any changes we need to make to address the problem.
In 2020, we created a flyer to be sent to students who are in graduate biblical studies programs. This year we plan to update this flyer and then begin sending it to students. However, before we can send it to students, we need to establish a connection with the biblical studies faculty of the schools where these students attend. The email addresses of these faculty are publicly available so we can email them. We then need to convince them to send our flyer to their students. This flyer, which is a PDF, has links to various parts of our website, which would be of interest to someone who might be interested in being part of our team. In 2021, we need to get this recruitment process started with at least three schools.
Make Updates to the Website
After we receive additional positive feedback concerning our lessons, we plan to add a User Feedback page to the website. This page will display the positive feedback that we have received. We will then update the flyer that we have created for recruiting staff to include a link to this page.
We also plan to update the Giving Thanks page. These updates include descriptions of several things for which we were thankful in 2020, but never got around to writing. It will also include words of thanks for how God blesses our ministry in 2021.
As new lessons are created, these will be added to the Bible Studies page. Finally, at the end of the year we will add a 2021 annual report and our 2022 goals.
Learn New Software
In 2020, we purchased Accordance Software to replace BibleWorks, which was no longer being updated. However, we continued to use BibleWorks because we are familiar with that program. This year we need to acquire a basic working knowledge of Accordance so that it becomes our go-to software when doing searches in the biblical text.
We also want to find software that we can use to brainstorm and design our lessons. The software needs to be designed to work well with a team. We will use this software to lay out all of the slides of a lesson, and it will function as a rough blueprint for those who actually build the lesson.
After the foundation is laid for the Word-n-will ministry, we will then begin to build on that foundation by focusing on the following long-term goals:
Develop Studies for Books of the Bible
Build Development Teams
Ideally, for each book of the Bible, we will have a development team of up to four or more members. Two team members will focus on determining the correct interpretation of the text. They will create a blueprint that describes each lesson’s content in detail. This blueprint will also include an initial set of application questions that will be part of the lesson. When a small group uses a lesson, the application questions will help them wrestle with how to apply the scripture they are studying to their lives.
For each lesson, the other team members will take the blueprint created by the first two team members and use it as their guide when creating an effective Bible study lesson. The following are some of the responsibilities of these team members:
- Write the script
- Create the visual content
- Record the audio
- Sync the visual and audio content
- Finish the small group discussion questions
- Update the lesson based on the feedback from beta reviewers
Build on the Knowledge of Biblical Scholars
In the past 50 years, numerous commentaries and other scholarly works have been published on the different books of the Bible. We plan to use the best of these scholarly works as we develop our Bible studies. Although we will glean as much information as possible from other scholars, our primary source will always be the biblical text itself.
In addition to using the works of other scholars, we also like to find biblical scholars, who would be willing to review our lessons as we create them. We would ask these scholars to identify any areas in our lessons where they believe we are incorrectly interpreting the text.
Implement a Development Process
When we complete a set of Bible study lessons for a book of the Bible (what we call a module), we want to have one or more Bible scholars review the lessons and provide us with feedback. We also want to have several small groups work through these lessons and give us their feedback. We will then use this feedback to determine any improvements that we need to make to the lessons and update them accordingly.
We are currently developing lessons for the Gospel of John. When about one third of the work on John is completed, we will hopefully have enough team members so that we can also begin to work on the lessons for Genesis. When about two thirds of the work on John and one third of the work on Genesis is completed, we would then like to begin developing lessons for Romans as well. The goal will be to build a large enough team so that we can be developing lessons for at least three books of the Bible simultaneously. We believe that it will take at least three years to develop the lessons for a longer book of the Bible if four or more people are working on it full time. If we work on three books of the Bible simultaneously and stagger their development, we should be able to complete the studies for a longer book or several shorter books each year.
Update Existing Lessons
Localize Completed Lessons
After we have updated the lessons for a book of the Bible at least once, we would then like to begin localizing the lessons. Localization involves translating the text into other languages. It also involves modifying the lessons so that they communicate clearly in the end-user’s culture.
We will determine the priority of localizing the lessons for a particular language based on the number of people that the localization could potentially reach and on the human resources available to do the localization.