We currently have only two people on our staff, but we hope to add staff in the near future.
Seth SeppanenSeth is the founder of the Word-n-Will ministry and currently the only full-time staff member. He started working full time for this ministry in November of 2016. However, God began to create his passion for this ministry many years ago, and Seth has been thinking, dreaming, and praying about this ministry for a long time (see below).
Janene is Seth’s wife and has always supported his vision for this ministry. She reviews all of the content of this website as well as the content of each Bible study. As she reviews each study, she checks all of the scholarly quotations to make sure they have been correctly cited, and she looks for anything that is not working as designed. She also helps Seth by searching on the internet for images that can be used in each study.
How God Prepared Seth for this Ministry
It was over 50 years ago when the initial seeds were sown for this ministry. The seeds were sown when Seth was a junior in high school and his parents began attending a Free Methodist church in Alexandria, Minnesota. Although he had previously gone through confirmation at the local Congregational Church, he was truly biblically illiterate. When John 3:16 was mentioned in a Sunday school class, he had no idea what they were talking about, and he certainly wasn't going to swallow his pride and admit his ignorance.
Later, while attending an adult Sunday school class, he observed that some of the adults had quite an extensive knowledge of the Bible. He wondered how they acquired this knowledge. He also wondered how many others were just like him with little or no knowledge of the Bible. It was during this time that God began to plant the seeds in his heart to address not only his need to become biblically literate but also to find a way to help others grow in their knowledge and understanding of God's word.
Seth attended Greenville College, a small Free Methodist college in Greenville, Illinois. Although he received a BA degree in Math, he was able to take several New Testament Greek classes, and he discovered that he enjoyed learning ancient languages. At Greenville, God also began to lay on his heart the desire to further pursue biblical studies and to attend seminary. Most importantly, at Greenville, he met his wife, Janene. Through their many years of marriage and countless years of graduate school, she always supported his dream to pursue biblical studies and to find a way to share that knowledge with others.
Seth attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and received an MDiv degree. At Asbury, he was introduced to Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, and Arabic. Most importantly, he was able to take a class in inductive Bible study taught by Robert Traina. The principles that he learned in this class have had a profound impact on how he studies the Bible. He learned the importance of understanding the structure of a biblical writer's work and how this understanding helps to accurately interpret the writer's message. At Asbury, God put in his heart the desire to further pursue biblical studies in graduate school with a focus on the Old Testament.
Seth attended graduate school at The University of Michigan in the Near Eastern Studies department. He continued to study Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. He also studied Northwest Semitic languages, Egyptian (hieroglyphics), Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian), and Biblical History. After he received an MA degree, he passed the advanced German and French reading exams and four preliminary exams. He then worked on his dissertation for several years with little progress before finally deciding that he had been a student long enough. During all these years as a student (too many to count), he also worked at UPS part-time, did volunteer work at our church, and helped his wife raise our three children.
Soon after Seth began graduate school at the University of Michigan, he was asked to teach an adult Sunday School class at the Free Methodist church that we were attending. As best as he can remember, the class was studying the Gospel of Luke. From time to time after that, he taught other books of the Bible in adult Sunday School classes. When he was no longer in graduate school, he taught John, Genesis, and Revelation in adult Sunday School classes over a three-year period. Although the lessons that he prepared for these classes were certainly not noteworthy, as he worked on them he could clearly see that God had given him a passion for studying books of the Bible and creating materials to help others grow in their knowledge of God’s word.
Seth and his wife have been involved in small groups most of their married life. He has frequently been a small group leader, and he spent several years working closely with a pastor who was in charge of the church’s small group ministry. He believes small groups provide a place where believers can experience biblical community and encourage each other as they seek to follow Christ. He also believes a small group is one of the best environments in which Christians can learn to apply God’s word to their lives. However, after many years of involvement in small groups, He realized that small groups are often not very effective at helping people apply God’s word to their lives, and he began to question why small groups were not as effective as they could be. He eventually came to the conclusion that a major part of the problem was the quality of the biblical teaching in small groups. He then realized that this problem could be addressed by creating high-quality, interactive, e-Learning studies of books of the Bible.
From the year 2000 until his retirement in November of 2016, Seth worked for several different software companies mostly as a technical writer. A technical writer creates the documentation that explains how to use the software. As a technical writer, his writing skills were honed, which has been very helpful when developing Bible study lessons. He also learned a lot about the overall process of developing software and much of this process can be applied to developing e-Learning Bible study lessons. For example, the development of quality software requires a good QA (quality assurance) team as well as beta testers, and these will also be needed to develop quality e-Learning Bible studies.
Around 2006, when Seth shared his vision for creating e-Learning Bible studies with his small group, one of the small group members shared that he thought it would be something that he could do when he retired. At the time, this advice was not pleasing to his ears because he did not want to wait that long before beginning to work on this ministry full time. However, it turned out that this was good advice. When Seth retired on November 1st, 2016, He was finally in a financial position where he could work full time on this ministry without pay. He would have liked to have started sooner, but that was not to be. He may never fully understand why he had to wait so long. However, God’s words to Abraham about his descendant's future reminds him that others have had to wait much longer before they could begin to pursue their dreams. God said to Abraham, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. … In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here …” (Gen 15:13 &16 NIV). Seth, like Abraham, got a late start in life on the work that God has called him to, and consequently, like Abraham, he won’t live to see all of what God plans to accomplish.