In December 2021, we published our first Word‑n‑Will quarterly newsletter. You can access all of our newsletters below:
- November 2022 – Word-n-Will News
- August 2022 – Word-n-Will News
- May 2022 – Exciting Word-n-Will News
- December 2021 – First-Ever Word-n-Will Newsletter
On September 19th, we officially launched the Word-n-Will Facebook page. Facebook has over 2.91 billion active users and offers a great platform to promote our ministry and our studies. We coordinated the launch of our Facebook page with the release of Module 1 of our Bible studies for the Gospel of John. Did our page get 2.91 billion views? No. But we did reach 1,707 people who saw our content on their newsfeed and 431 of them visited our page to find out more. A number of people have reached out to let us know that our Facebook posts prompted them to do a study. We currently have 108 people following our page, which means that when we post something it automatically will be posted to their timeline.
If you are on Facebook, please like and follow our page. Then when we create a post, if you like and share it on your timeline more people will see it and the posts will start to show up on your friend's timelines. It works even better if you leave a comment, as Facebook prioritizes and promotes posts that get interaction.
Another feature of our Facebook page is the opportunity to share more about the Bible. On the seventh week after the launch of our Facebook page, we created a special series of posts called "Sevens" which focused on the seven "I Am" statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. We'll do another special "Sevens" series just before Christmas.
Module 2 of the Gospel of John
We are currently working on Module 2 for the Gospel of John. This module will consist of 6 lessons. Two lessons for chapter 6 of this gospel, and one lesson for each of chapters 7 through 10. It will also include a presentation that provides a quick review of Module 1. This review presentation will be helpful to users when there is a significant time gap between when they finish Module 1 and when they start Module 2.
Because the two lessons for chapter 6 of John are closely related, we had to do all the initial research for both lessons before we could begin to create the first lesson of this module that focuses on John 6:1-40. This initial research included gathering insights from over 40 commentaries and other books on this chapter of John. After we gathered these scholarly insights, we had 150 pages of notes to help us develop the two lessons for the sixth chapter of John. As we did this research, we learned that it is one of the most discussed passages in the New Testament and that scholars interpret it in many different ways.
We are excited about what we have learned from other scholars about this chapter, as well as the insights we gleaned from our own study. We are now creating the first lesson for chapter 6, and we believe it will be very helpful to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of these verses.
Modern Player for Storyline 360
The software we use to create our eLearning Bible studies is called Storyline 360. When you access one of our Bible studies, the content appears in a frame called the player. Storyline 360 gives us the option to use what is called the classic player or the modern player. We’ve been using the classic player, but decided it was time to move to the modern player because more than a dozen new player features are only available with the modern player. Another benefit of the modern player is that it has a more consistent look and feel when you access the lessons using different types of devices, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. One new feature of the modern player that we really like is the ability to add a cover photo as the start page. If you click here, you will see the start page for Lesson 1, and you will see why we are so pleased with this minor enhancement. start page
As we come to the close of 2022, we would like to thank everyone who has provided financial support to our ministry. Your generosity fuels our mission and helps us create studies that are helping people know God's Word and do God's Will.
We live in a time when fewer and fewer people, even Christians, are actively reading and studying the Bible, even though they have 24/7 access to the scriptures on their smart phones, tablets, and computers. We are creating eLearning studies that are designed to get people into God's Word.
Our 2023 annual budget is $44,000 and as a non-profit, we rely on the generosity of people like you to provide the funds for us to continue creating high-quality eLearning studies that are free to anyone with an internet connection. Eventually, we hope that enough people will be using our studies so the network of financial support will make our ministry self-sustaining. However, in our current start-up phase, we are relying on people who catch our vision to provide the funds for us to build our Bible Study library.
Start-up funds are the most difficult to raise because they are aspirational and point to a future that could be. In this respect, we have an advantage because we can point to what we have already accomplished with the completion of Module 1 for the Gospel of John and because we aspire to do so much more as a ministry. We would love your support as we continue to complete as much of Module 2 as possible in 2023.
To help us, we are asking for you to consider an end-of-year gift. To fully fund our budget for the coming year, please consider being one of the 40 people to help fuel our mission. Our budget goal will be met if you could be one of the following:
- 1 person giving a $20,000 donation
- 2 people each giving a $5,000 donation
- 7 people each giving a $1,000 donation
- 10 people each giving a $500 donation
- 20 people each giving a $100 donation
We don't have any tote bags, coffee mugs, or stickers to honor your donation. What we do offer is the opportunity for you to be involved in helping people read and study their Bible, so they can know God's Word and do God's will.
Note: If you are 70½ years old and have a traditional IRA, you can make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to Word-n-Will. A QCD is a direct transfer of funds from your traditional IRA to a charity. You can use a QCD to donate up to $100,000 per year and none of your donation is taxable income. If you have not yet taken your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from you IRA, you can use a QCD to donate any portion of your RMD directly to Word-n-Will. If you have already taken your RMD for this year, you could use a QCD as early as January to donate any portion of your 2023 RMD to Word n Will.
Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Because Word-n-Will is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we discovered that we could get Microsoft 365 Business Premium for free for up to 10 users. Currently, this is not saving us a large amount of money, but as our ministry grows the amount we save will also grow. More importantly, Microsoft 365 Business Premium gives us all the tools we need to work as a team even though we are all working remotely.
We now have free access to a host of Microsoft apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, and Teams. Microsoft OneDrive makes it possible for us to store everything that we are working on in a place where it is secure but where any member of the team can access it. Microsoft Teams provides everything we need for our team to stay connected by engaging in chats, meetings, and calls. We are also looking into taking advantage of other Microsoft apps such as Sway and Forms.
While we are only beginning to take advantage of everything that Microsoft 365 Business Premium has to offer, we are very thankful that Microsoft provides this service to nonprofits. Having access to this service will become an even greater blessing as our ministry grows.
How You Can Help
Thank you for reading our newsletter! We appreciate your interest and invite you to partner with us in our mission to help people understand God's word so they can do God's will. The following are two other ways you can support our ministry:
- Pray for Our Ministry. The only way for our ministry to be successful is through God’s guidance and through His blessing our efforts. Pray that we will be attentive to his leading. Also pray that God would make it possible for us to raise enough financial support so we could soon add at least one staff person and thereby accelerate our ability to create our eLearning Bible studies.
- Use the Module 1 Lessons. If you are in a Small Group or Sunday School class, encourage your study group to work through our seven Bible study lessons that make up Module 1 of the Gospel of John. While we believe these lessons are very good, we also believe we can and should continue to make them even better and the best way to do this is through user feedback. If your study group would work through these lessons and provide us feedback, it would be extremely helpful. To provide feedback, simply click the Feedback icon on the last slide of a lesson. If you then find our Bible studies helpful, spread the word about our studies to anyone who you think would find them beneficial.
Getting Started Video
We recently added a Getting Started video to our website. To view it, click here. It introduces viewers to our website and the presentation tool we use for our eLearning Bible studies. It also provides helpful hints for study participants.
In the coming months, we will add more videos to our website to promote our ministry and to train and equip study group leaders. The videos for leaders will help them effectively lead their group as they work through our studies.
In May, we submitted an application to the Praxis Nonprofit Accelerator program. Praxis is an organization that supports “founders, funders, and innovators motivated by their faith to address the major issues of our time.” Their Nonprofit Accelerator program is a mentorship-driven program that is designed to help jumpstart redemptive startups.
We believe our application was much stronger than the applications we submitted in previous years. Unfortunately, at the end of June, we were informed that we had not made the cut. Praxis only accepts twelve applicants, and the mission of many of the other applicants probably aligned better with what Praxis likes to support.
If we had been accepted, we would have been able to make a presentation before a large group of Christian philanthropists, which would have made it possible for us to raise substantial financial support. Major financial support would then allow us to add staff and speed up the lesson creation process. Not having our application accepted was a major disappointment, but we believe God will provide what we need to build and grow our ministry.
This past January, we took a course at Washtenaw Community College called Optimize Your Business Facebook Page. Our goal was to effectively launch a successful Facebook page to help increase awareness of our ministry and drive traffic to our website.
The Facebook page already exists with some basic graphics and information but will officially launch on Monday, September 19th. We are currently creating 14 weeks of posts to share between now and Christmas.
If you have a Facebook profile, please follow our page at: www.facebook/com/wordnwill/ and when we make a post be sure to like it, comment, and share it on your wall. Our Facebook page is the gateway to greater outreach and the more you interact with our posts the more other people in your network will see our page and check out our website.
Lesson and Website Enhancements
Since we completed Module 1 for the Gospel of John in May, we have continued to make enhancements to these lessons. One of the more important enhancements involves the discussion questions that make up the third and final part of each lesson. When we initially created the lessons, we devoted less time to this part of the lesson than to any other part. We now realize that these discussion questions play a critically important role in the overall effectiveness of the lessons and deserve more of our time and effort. Consequently, we have been updating these discussion questions, getting user feedback after we update them, and making additional updates based on this feedback. We will soon be finished enhancing these discussion questions for all of the lessons in Module 1.
We have also made significant updates to our website. At the beginning of 2020, we hired someone to set up our current website. Since then, we have added significant amounts of new content, but not always fully understanding what we were doing. We also discovered that the website’s content was not optimally configured for use with mobile devices. To address these website issues, we decided to invest the time needed to master the basics of its configuration. Although this learning process was time consuming and at times painful, it taught us a lot about how our website works. It will also make the use of our website a more positive experience for mobile users. The skills we acquired as we updated the website will save us a lot of time as we make future enhancements. It also gave us the confidence to reconfigure our User Feedback page using what web developers call a slider. We believe this has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of this page.
How You Can Help
Thank you for reading our newsletter! We appreciate your interest and invite you to partner with us in our mission to help people understand God's word so that they can do God's will. The following are some ways that you can help:
- Test Drive Module 1. In May, we completed Module 1 of our Bible Study Lessons for the Gospel of John. This module consists of seven lessons on the first five chapters of the gospel. While we believe these lessons are very good, we also believe we can and should continue to make them even better and the best way to do this is through user feedback. Therefore, we would greatly appreciate it if you would work through these lessons and provide us constructive feedback. You could do this on your own or even better as part of a study group. If you work through these lessons as part of a group, be sure to encourage the group members to provide feedback as well. To provide feedback, simply click the Submit Feedback button on the last slide of a lesson.
- Pray for Our Ministry While the creation of our Bible study lessons requires a great deal of effort on our part, we are fully aware that without God’s guidance and blessing our efforts will never amount to anything. Please prayer that God will continue to guide and direct us as we build this ministry. Also pray that we would be able to raise the financial support needed to not only continue this ministry but to be able to expand our ability to create first-rate Bible study lessons.
- Like and Follow Our Facebook Posts.In the coming weeks, as we begin to post content to the Word-n-Will Facebook page, if you like and follow our posts, it can make a world of difference in the effectiveness of these posts.
- Support Us FinanciallyOur operating budget for this year is $40,000. We are a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax deductible. If you are able, please consider making a large gift so that we continue to build our ministry. If you are not able to make a large gift, just remember that every gift regardless of the size makes a difference. To support our ministry, please go to our Donate page.
May 2022 - Exciting Word-n-Will News
We sent out our first quarterly newsletter at the end of December. We decided not to send out our next newsletter until we had completed Module 1 for the Gospel of John. Consequently, we did not send out a newsletter in March.
In this newsletter, we briefly describe what we have accomplished since our first newsletter, as well as other important ongoing projects.
Completion of Module 1
Last year we divided our Bible studies on the Gospel of John into four modules with each module containing six or seven lessons. We broke the studies into modules to make the study of John a less daunting task. Instead of having to work through the entire book, a study group can work through a single module. They can take a break and then come back to the next module. Before they start the next module, they will be able to work through a quick review of the previous module.
We are excited to announce that you can now access all seven lessons of Module 1. This module covers the first five chapters of the Gospel of John. These chapters lay the foundation for the rest of the Gospel and prepare the reader for the seven “I am …” statements made by Jesus beginning in chapter 6.
We will be promoting the use of this module this summer. We want as many study groups as possible to begin using it this fall. We believe it will help them grow in their understanding of God’s word and in their ability to know and do God’s will. We also believe the feedback that we will receive from these study groups will help us make this module and all future modules better.
We have just submitted our application to the Praxis Nonprofit Accelerator program. Praxis is an organization that supports “founders, funders, and innovators motivated by their faith to address the major issues of our time.” Their Nonprofit Accelerator program is a mentorship-driven program that is designed to help jumpstart redemptive startups. They accept 12 startups each year from the submitted applications.
The application consists of many questions. Most questions limit the response to a maximum number of words, such as 150 or 200. The total number of words in our application including documents that we attach to the application is about 8,000 words.
If we are one of the fortunate startups that they accept, we would then attend 3 different events lasting a total of 12 days over the next 12 months. During these events we would interact with 35 or more mentors and would be guaranteed an unrestricted grant of $50,000. At the final event, we would also be able to share about our ministry before several hundred Christian philanthropists.
Word‑n‑Will Facebook Page
At the beginning of this year, Ken and Seth took a class at Washtenaw Community college entitled Optimize Your Business Facebook Page. The class provided a lot of information that will help us effectively use the Word-n-Will Facebook page to promote our ministry.
Although we created a Word-n-Will Facebook page at the beginning of this year, we have not yet created any posts. Our focus has been on creating the lessons for Module 1 for the Gospel of John. Now that we have created all the lessons for Module 1, our Facebook posts will become a high priority. We will begin posting later this summer to make people aware of our ministry and to encourage them to start using Module 1.
You can find our page at www.facebook.com/wordnwill or just search wordnwill in your facebook application. When you find our page, please like and follow. When we begin posting, please do the following three things to help us become visible to your friends:
- Like the post
- Make a comment
- Why Study the Entire Gospel of John?
To raise operational funds for the creation and development of our studies, we applied to a number of charitable foundations for support. Unfortunately, we discovered that many of these foundations have focus areas of giving for which we do not qualify (specific geographic regions, youth programs or social service providers). We continue to explore foundation funding but also look to expand support from individuals and those who utilize our studies. If you are aware of any charitable foundations that we should contact, please let us know.
Bible Study Enhancements
We are currently working on two updates to the Bible studies that we have created in Module 1 for the Gospel of John. The first enhancement is a "Getting Started" video that will guide people through the website and how to utilize our presentation tool for the study.
The second Improvement is a Leader’s Guide that will prepare group leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc., to lead others through our study of the Gospel of John. It will include tips for leading a discussion, keeping the study on track, helps for using technology to present the lessons and materials that will help the leader dig deeper into the study.
How You Can Help
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter! We appreciate your interest. We also invite you to partner with us in our mission to help people understand God's word so that they can do God's will. The following are different ways that you can help:
- Pray for us. In our culture it has become popular for people to define "thoughts and prayers" as less effective than taking action. Doing things is important but we believe that praying is the most important action any of us can do first! Yes, we would like you to also do the other items on our list, but please pray first!
- Check out our first module of studies for the Gospel of John. The only way to fully understand our ministry is to work through one or more of our Bible studies for the Gospel of John. As you go through the lessons, if anything jumps out to you, either an error to correct or a positive aspect we should repeat, please use the Feedback part of our website to let us know what you think. Your input will help us improve our studies, and if we use your feedback, we will give you a nice "Thank You" gift!
- Like us and follow us on Facebook.When we begin actively posting content, your willingness to interact and share will make all the difference!
- Make a financial gift.Our current operating costs are nearing $40,000 a year. We would love to expand our team and increase the speed of creating lessons, but we first need to make sure we are covering our current yearly expenses. This will require individuals who have the financial means, to make significant gifts to help us meet that goal. We are a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax deductible. If you would be willing, please consider making a large gift as we continue to build our studies. Not everyone is in the financial position to make a large gift, but any gift helps fuel the mission. Please go to our Donate page to contribute.
December 2021 - First-Ever Word-n-Will Newsletter
Welcome to the first-ever quarterly newsletter of the Word-n-Will Ministry! We are excited to share with you about our ministry. We hope this newsletter will give you a sense of what we are trying to accomplish, why we believe this is important, and what we are doing and plan to do to make this a reality. This newsletter addresses the following questions:
- What Is the Mission of Word‑n‑Will?
- Why Is Word‑n‑Will Needed?
- Why Study the Entire Gospel of John?
- Why Did Ken Gilmore Join Word‑n‑Will?
- What Are Some of Our Recent Accomplishments?
- What Is Next for Word‑n‑Will?
- How Can You Help?
What Is the Mission of Word‑n‑Will?
The mission of the Word‑n‑Will ministry is to create eLearning Bible studies to help people know God’s WORD and do God’s WILL. We are creating in-depth studies of books of the Bible that are accessible to the average churchgoer. You can access any of our Bible studies for free from our website.
We create our Bible studies using the latest eLearning technology. This technology allows us to create Interactive and engaging studies. It also makes it possible for us to update these studies easily and economically based on user feedback and advances in eLearning technology.
Although any individual can benefit from our studies, they are designed to be used in conjunction with a study group. A study group helps to maintain the commitment needed to work through an entire book of the Bible and provides a supportive community to help you apply the text’s message to your life.
Each Bible study has three parts: homework, teaching, and discussion. The homework is designed to be worked through individually and helps you make careful observations about the text. The teaching part can be worked through individually or as a group. It focuses on interpretation or understanding the message of the text. The discussion part is designed to be worked through by your study group. It focuses on application with the goal of helping you incorporate God’s word into your life.
Why Is Word‑n‑Will Needed?
You may be asking, is there really a need for the Word‑n‑Will Ministry? Don’t we already have enough Bible study curriculum?
Although there are many resources available for studying the Bible, biblical illiteracy is still a real problem in the church today. The following diagram makes it clear that this is a problem. If we don’t know God’s word, how can we expect to do God’s will?
We have identified what we believe are some of the causes of this problem, and based on this analysis have developed what we believe is an effective strategy for addressing it (For more details, see the Our Strategy page on our website.). Part of our strategy is to take advantage of advances in technology and combine it with the best of biblical scholarship to create interactive and engaging Bible studies. Although this is a very time-consuming endeavor, we believe the Bible studies we are creating can make a real difference.
Why Study the Entire Gospel of John?
Currently, we are developing eLearning Bible studies for the Gospel of John. We are doing this because we believe a sound understanding of this gospel is only possible by studying the entire book.
The Gospel of John is divided into 21 chapters. In the last two verses of chapter 20, John gives us his purpose for writing this gospel. According to these two verses, he wrote it to record signs (miracles) that Jesus performed that we might believe and that by believing we might have life. In other words, the focus of this gospel is its signs, its purpose is to help us believe, and its end goal is to give us life.
John records seven of Jesus’ signs in his gospel, and we believe the entire gospel is built around these signs. The content associated with each sign is given to help us understand the sign’s significance. If we want the Gospel of John to have its intended impact on our lives, we need to identify each of the signs, try to understand how they can help us believe, and then how this believing can give us life. We can only do this by studying the entire gospel.
Why Did Ken Gilmore Join Word‑n‑Will?
A few years ago, Seth asked if I would serve as treasurer on the board of directors for Word‑n‑Will. Given the ministry's focus on teaching the eternal truths of scripture utilizing modern tools, I was immediately on board. Seth has done a fantastic job creating the resources we currently offer, along with the support of his wife, Janene. Still, over the past few years, one of the main discussion topics has been growing our staff team to increase our capacity to produce first-rate eLearning Bible study materials more quickly.
When I decided to step away from my role as a lead pastor after 27 years of pastoral ministry to focus my time and effort on pursuing a Ph.D., Seth, Janene, and I discussed the possibility of adding me to the staff on a part-time basis. After some prayer and further conversations, I joined the team accepting the position of co‑president. My responsibility is to provide leadership in organizational strategy, fundraising, promotion, and assist Bible study development.
I am excited to be a part of the team because we are creating quality Bible Study resources that are freely available to anyone with internet access. These studies are designed to take people deeper into the Word of God, covering entire books and not just parts of books. The better we know the Bible, the more we can understand and discern the will of God for our lives. I am grateful for the financial support of our donors that made my position a reality. It is an honor to serve this ministry and help it grow.
What Are Some of Our Recent Accomplishments?
In the past few months, we have made significant progress in several different areas.
We reconfigured the organization of our Bible studies for the Gospel of John. Previously we had these studies divided into 27 lessons. We realized that many study groups would find a 27-lesson study to be too daunting a task. To resolve this problem, we broke our lessons into four modules with either six or seven lessons in each module. After you complete a module, you can immediately move on to the next module or you can come back to it at a later date. Whenever you start the next module, you will first work through a review lesson that will give you a quick overview of the previous module.
We recently completed the 6th lesson of the 1st module. Once we complete the 7th lesson, we will have a finished module. Completing this module will be a major milestone for us as it will allow us to start promoting the use of Bible studies.
We have redefined our target audience and updated the lessons accordingly. Initially, our target audience was small groups. We have now expanded our target audience to include any type of Bible study group. The group might be a Sunday School class, a Bible study group, or a small group. Of course, an individual can also benefit from our Bible studies, but we believe they are most beneficial when worked through in conjunction with a community of other believers.
We upgraded the software we use to create our eLearning Bible studies. We were using a non‑subscription software, and had not purchased the subscription version because it costs $1300 per year. However, the major improvements in the software were only being added to the subscription version. Fortunately, we discovered that as a non-profit we could purchase the subscription version for half price and then get an additional 15% off with a three-year subscription. This upgrade has features that will save us time and greatly enhance our ability to get feedback on our lessons as we create them.
Finally, we have upgraded the security of our website. We believe it is important to have a secure website for the safety of everyone who visits it.
What Is Next for Word‑n‑Will?
We are excited to be on the verge of finishing the first of four modules in our study on the Gospel of John this winter. This module will be complete as soon as we finish its final lesson and create a leader’s guide for the entire module. At our current staffing level, each lesson takes at least three months to research, write, edit, record, and publish. Since this is a digital study, we also continually update and edit our studies based on feedback we receive from participants.
In the past few months, we have reached out to over forty charitable foundations in hopes of raising financial support for the years ahead. Eventually, we hope to be fully funded by participants in our studies, but as a start-up, we need to build our Bible study library to make that a reality. As we make progress, we'll keep you up-to-date.
The purpose of raising funds is to add staff to help create lessons and modules more quickly. Each module contains approximately six lessons, and one additional staff member would nearly double our capacity to produce the lessons. We would like to add an additional member to our staff by the middle of 2022, but we want to have a full year of funding before adding another staff person.
How Can You Help?
Thank you for taking the time to read our first-ever newsletter! We appreciate your interest, and if you would like to partner with us in our mission, you can help us in the following ways:
- Pray for us. We know that this can be a common request from most Christian organizations, but we will accomplish nothing without prayer. Creating resources that we hope will have a spiritual impact requires spiritual input, and your prayers are essential to fuel our ministry. Would you please add us to your weekly prayers?
- Visit our website. As we continue to build and refine our online resources, we must have fresh eyes on our pages to help us see details that get lost because the site is so familiar to us. It would be particularly beneficial to click on the Bible Studies, go through some lessons, and provide feedback. Your input will help improve what we do and will be much appreciated.
- Share Word‑n‑Will.org with others. The best advertising in the world is "word of mouth." If you find the lessons helpful, share them with your small group, maybe even doing the study together. Could you share our website with friends?
- Make a financial gift. As we close our fiscal year and look forward to expanding our ministry team in the year to come, we need your support. Eventually, our organization will be funded by the donations of those who are actively using our materials. However, we are currently at the beginning stages of creating those resources, and your financial support will play a critical role in helping us build our online library. As a non-profit, our work relies on the generosity of others. Please go to our Donate page and consider a $25, $50, or $100 donation to show your support.