May 2024 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in February of 2024.

Passing the Public Support Test

As a 501c3 non-profit, the government requires that we pass a public support test after five years of operation to maintain our 501c3 status. To pass the public support test, at least 1/3 of our support must qualify as public support. A donation is considered public support to the extent that it does not exceed 2% of the support we received that year. For example, our financial goal for donations in 2024 is $25,000. If we hit that goal because one person gives a $25k gift, we have a fully funded budget but would fail the support test. However, if we had seventeen people each give $500 (equaling $8,500), we would pass the public support test because more than 1/3 of our budget was funded by donors whose gift did not exceed 2% of our overall income. For gifts over $500, the first $500 would also count toward our public support test. The bottom line: As we hit our five-year mark, we need to increase the number of donors who make donations under $500.

Many people want to give, but when they know the goal is $25,000 and they only have $50 or $150 to give, their gift doesn't seem to make much of a difference. A few months ago, we contacted some of our larger donors to see if they would support a matching fund that we could use to encourage people to give smaller gifts. Thanks to the very generous support of these donors, we are excited to announce the creation of a $12,500 matching fund for gifts of $500 and below. Now, the person with $50 to give will have their gift matched, making it worth $100 to Word-n-Will. A $150 donation becomes $300, and so on, up to $500.

We will announce the matching fund on Facebook in the next few weeks, but we wanted you to know first! You can also help us promote the matching fund. When you see the post on Facebook, please be sure to like it, share it, and encourage your friends to lend their support. Any amount of support will make a huge difference. Donations that come in starting today (5/29/24) will be matched until we reach $12,500 in gifts. To donate, click here

Missional Labs Application

In April we submitted an application to an organization called Missional Labs. Missional Labs is “a global fellowship for early-stage ministries and ventures on the frontiers of mission.” They support “pioneer leaders and innovative ministry ventures exploring new approaches to evangelism, discipleship, and the Church.”

If they are interested in our ministry based on our application, they will ask us to submit a video, presumably a pitch video. If we submit a video and they are still interested in our ministry, then they will interview us. At the end of this process, they select 15 ventures to be part of their accelerator program. The ventures that are selected will gather on three occasions over a 9-month period and will have the opportunity to connect with “mission-motivated investors and donors.”

We should know within the next few weeks if they are interested in our venture. If we are fortunate enough to be one of the ventures they select, their support could significantly accelerate our ministry.

Closed Captions

Developing an online Bible study curriculum that uses audio and video and is available to anyone with an internet connection is a giant leap forward in training people to know God's Word and do God's will. However, for those who are hearing impaired, the lack of closed captions has been an obstacle to participating in our studies. With the recent update to our presentation platform and some diligent effort from our Word-n-Will staff, we can announce that closed captions are available in every lesson we produce. By selecting the "CC" icon in the player, any audio portion of the lesson can now be read. Yet one more barrier has been removed for people to study God's Word!

Image

To access our eLearning Bible study lessons and to check out the closed caption functionality, click here.

Work on the Gospel of John

Our next lesson is on John 7. We have completed our initial research for this lesson, which involves reading about 40 scholarly works on this chapter and gathering and organizing over 100 pages of insights from their writings. Because John 7 is closely related to the next three chapters of John, we have also read and gathered the insights of some of our favorite scholars on these chapters as well. We are currently creating and configuring the homework questions for this lesson.

In the last three months, we have also made significant improvements to our existing lessons on the Gospel of John. When we created the second lesson on John 6, we came up with a better layout for the discussion questions. We have now updated all of the lessons with this improved layout. Based on user feedback, we have updated all of the multiple choice and multiple selection homework questions to clearly indicate the correct answer or answers if you answer a question incorrectly twice. We have also made over 100 updates to the citations and bibliographies in our lessons in order to make them as complete and correct as possible. Finally, we have made numerous refinements to the layout of the content of the lessons.

The Epistle of St. Meme

This past month, Star Wars fans worldwide celebrated May the 4th, a pun on the well-known phrase from the franchise, "May the force be with you." This year, a wonderful Christian take on the phrase added an even better message with the following meme that points to the scene in Daniel 3:25.

Image

February 2024 - Word-n-Will News

This newsletter includes some insightful thoughts by Pat Browning about the Word-n-Will Ministry. Pat is a dear friend, supporter of Word-n-Will, and devoted student of the scriptures. This newsletter also includes a brief update on the progress we have made on our Bible studies in the last three months, our 2024 budget, and our latest Epistle of St. Meme.

Pat Browning’s Thoughts on Word-n-Will Bible Studies

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

Image

I have been working through the Word-n-Will Bible study lessons on the Gospel of John, and I am now on Lesson 5 of Module 1.

I am doing the lessons on my own, not in a group. I really like that I can work at my own pace and not have to rush to keep on schedule with a group. This allows me to linger on areas or not get behind, like when I was sick last month. However, the downside of working through the lessons on my own is that I do not get to learn from others. There are many times when going through the discussion questions that I would like to hear what others would say.

Word-n-Will takes maximum advantage of online teaching. I get immediate feedback on homework, letting me know if I get an answer correct and providing the correct answer if I do not. The teaching portion allows me to repeat and listen to information that I didn’t quite get the first time. I can even speed up or slow down the rate of speech. I can click to read the Scripture for the lesson, and there’s even an option to read different Bible versions. The Help tab provides clear instructions on how to use and navigate through the lesson. I love the table of contents feature to see just where I am in the lesson; as I complete a section, it’s checked off, so I always know what I have done and what I have yet to do. The Digging Deeper feature lets me explore topics in greater depth.

I love how well-organized the lessons are. The content is so well presented and clear that I’m constantly amazed at the new things I’m seeing and learning—and I’ve read the Gospel of John at least two dozen times throughout my life and have heard countless sermons on it. I love how the material is presented in a question format, asking about what is there, and why it is there and what it means. Now I find myself using this approach to Scripture even when I’m not doing the Word-n-Will study.

Image

I’ve always enjoyed Bible studies, but doing Word-n-Will studies produces excitement, amazement, and joy. There are times that I just have to stop and praise God! I really like digging into John. So many studies I’ve done seem to skim the surface of a topic in Scripture, but Word-n-Will goes wide and long and high and deep.

Word-n-Will lessons include artwork from ages past that illustrate the Scripture for that lesson. The paintings, stained glass, mosaics, and tiles let me feel connected to the brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before me. As a person who loves art, it’s interesting to see how the artists envisioned scenes from Scripture. It can also bring Scripture to life. For example, one painting of Jesus teaching had a crowd listening to Him. A myriad of different possible responses to Jesus were portrayed: Pharisees in the distance behind Jesus consulting together and probably plotting against him, a man with his hand on his chin and head tilted to the side considering Jesus and His words, some people praying, and some people turning away.

I like Word-n-Will so much that I recommend it to my friends. A great advantage of the study is that I can recommend it to anyone, anywhere. I have already recommended it to friends locally but also friends in Texas, Colorado, and Georgia.

If you are ready for solid food—not milk—of Scripture (Hebrews 5:12), Word-n-Will is for you! My prayer for you is that the verses I quoted at the beginning, Ephesian 3:16-19, blossom in your life as you study Scripture using Word-n-Will lessons.

Update on Word-n-Will Bible Studies

We are happy to announce that we have completed the Overview for Module 1. This overview provides a summary of the content of the first five chapters of John. It is also designed to show how the different passages in these chapters go together to form a cohesive message. You can use this overview as a good review after you complete Module 1 or before you begin Module 2. You can click here to view this overview. You can also find it on The Gospel of John page of our website at the end of the lessons in Module 1.

Image

We are also happy to announce that we just completed adding closed captions to the first two lessons of Module 1. After you start a lesson, you can activate closed captions by clicking or touching the closed captions icon in the lower right corner of the player. After you activate closed captions, they will appear on every slide that has audio. We plan to complete adding closed captions to all of our lessons in the near future. To check out this new feature, access either Lesson 1 or 2 of Module 1 on The Gospel of John page.

We have also made updates and corrections to our lessons based on user feedback. We value user feedback, and if you send us feedback that leads to us making improvements to a lesson, we will send you a $25 Amazon gift card.

2024 Budget and Financial Support

In 2023 we set a goal of raising $40,000 to fund our operating budget. Although we were unable to meet that goal, we did raise nearly $23,000 thanks to the generosity of our wonderful supporters. As a non-profit, our mission is fueled entirely by the financial support of people like you, so if you gave in 2023, THANK YOU! Charitable giving has been trending down over the past few years and nearly all non-profits have been impacted. After making some adjustments to lower our operating budget for 2024, we have set a goal of raising $25,000 this year. We will be launching a campaign to raise those funds in March and April. Be looking for our posts on social media and please like and share them.

The Epistle of St. Meme

Image

November 2023 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in August of 2023.

Financial Support

The first thing we want to say is THANK YOU! To all of you who have generously contributed your financial support to the mission of Word-n-Will. Your contributions help us focus on lesson research and development while keeping our tools, such as the website, updated and fully functional. At a time when giving to charities and non-profit organizations has become more challenging, your faithful support means a lot to us and is not taken for granted.

This past year, we had a goal of raising $40,000, and due to the support of people like you, we have raised $21,276 so far. The year is not quite over yet, so we hope that end-of-year giving will help us meet or at least move closer to our goal. If you have yet to contribute this year or have additional resources to share, please consider making an end-of-year tax-deductible donation to help fund and fuel our mission. You can donate by going to the Donate page of the Word-n-Will website. Another way you can help us is to follow our Word-n-Will Facebook page (facebook.com/wordnwill) and be sure to like, comment on, and share our Facebook posts. This gets the word out and makes people more aware of our studies and organization.

The Bible and Generosity

As people engage in reading the Bible, their charitable giving goes up, not only to a local church but to all types of charitable organizations. According to the research by the American Bible Society, in the annual State of the Bible USA 2023 report, 92% of those who are regularly engaged in reading the scriptures are financially generous, with an average annual giving of $6,230. In contrast, only 54% of people considered Bible disengaged give to charity and at an average of only $2,822 annually. This should not be overly surprising, given the encouragement within the scriptures for believers to be generous: See Deuteronomy 15:7–8; Proverbs 3:9–10, 11:25, 19:17; Malachi 3:10; Luke 12:33; 2 Corinthians 9:6–7, 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:17–19; Hebrews 13:16; and 1 John 3:17 (to name a few). Our hope is to engage more people in the study of God’s Word, which is not only a benefit to them but also to all of those around them.

True Food and True Drink

We are excited to announce that Lesson 2 of Module 2 is now finished. The primary focus of this lesson is John 6:41-71, but because all of chapter 6 is about Jesus being the bread of life, this lesson also has numerous references to the first forty verses of the chapter.

In the verses covered in this lesson, Jesus made some outlandish claims. For example, he said, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves.” Later he declared, “my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” While these words may seem perplexing; they describe, using metaphorical language, what it means to believe in Jesus. To live, we must eat food; but to live forever, we must eat the living bread, Jesus Christ.

At the end of chapter 6, we are told that many of Jesus’ disciples found his teaching about being the true bread and true drink hard to accept and offensive. Consequently, many of them no longer followed him. However, when Jesus asked the Twelve if they wanted to abandon him, Peter declared, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

The verses covered in Lesson 2 of Module 2 raise many questions, such as:

  • What does it mean to eat Jesus’ flesh and to drink his blood?
  • Why did so many of Jesus’ disciples abandon him the day after he miraculously fed five thousand people, not counting women and children?
  • What did Peter mean when he said that Jesus had “the words of eternal life”?

To acquire a sound understanding of our faith, we need answers to these and other important questions. These answers can be found by using the Bible studies that we have created for the Gospel of John. If you are part of a Bible study group, encourage your group to set a goal for 2024 to work through the Bible studies that we have created so far for the Gospel of John.

Small Group Feedback

We are always thankful when a study group works through our Bible studies and provides us with feedback. One small group that recently did this calls themselves the Snowbirds because most of them head south for the winter (see picture below). They not only worked through our first eight lessons on the Gospel of John and provided us with helpful feedback, but they also invited Seth and Janene to join them for their end of the season potluck dinner. When we met with them, they gave us additional helpful feedback and asked some thought-provoking questions. As we wrestle with these questions it will help us refine and improve our ministry. If, in the coming year, your Bible study group decides to work through our Bible studies, please take the time to send us your feedback because it does make a positive difference.

Image

Other Gospel of John Projects

Now that we have completed Lesson 2 of Module 2, we will begin to work on Lesson 3 of Module 2. However, we also have three other projects on which we will be working. The first project is to create a Module 1 Review. The plan is to create a 15-to-20-minute review of the seven lessons in Module 1. Before a study group begins working on the lessons in Module 2, they can work through this Module 1 Review to remind them of the primary truths conveyed in the first five chapters of the Gospel of John.

The second project is to add closed captions to all of our current lessons. We have decided to make this project a priority because we have had several requests to add closed captions. After we update the lessons with closed captions, a user will be able to click a closed captions icon in any lesson to turn closed captions on and off.

The third project is to make some updates to our existing lessons. In both Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 of Module 2, we improved the layout of the discussion part of the lessons. We now want to update all of the lessons in Module 2 with this same layout. In Lesson 2 of Module 2, which we just completed, we also added a new feature to multiple selection homework questions. With this feature, if you answer a multiple selection question wrong twice, then the correct answers are clearly identified. We are adding this feature to the last lesson we created because users have requested it. We now need to add it to all of our existing lessons.

December Board Meeting

As we wrap up our fiscal year, the Word-n-Will board will be meeting in December to discuss our plans and goals for 2024. Please keep us in your prayers as the decisions made at these meetings help shape the future of our ministry.

The Epistle of St. Meme

With the expansion of social media apps nowadays, we have also seen the rise of viral memes (pronounced, meem). The term meme is a shorthand way of describing a simple message that is reproduced across social media because people find it amusing or profound and share it on their favorite social media app. Seth and Ken share memes with each other as a fun way to kick off our meetings. If we enjoy them, we feel like you will enjoy them as well. So, without further introduction, please enjoy the first meme in our collection, which we like to call The Epistle of St. Meme.

Image

August 2023 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in May of 2023.

Board Members Needed

In the book of Acts, the Church was wrestling with a tricky issue: Do the Gentiles, who were turning to Jesus, need to become Jewish in order to be Christian? The resolution of this issue would end up shaping the trajectory and reach of the church outside of Israel for the rest of history. In Acts 15, the apostles along with other leaders in the church gathered to discuss the issue and look for a solution. It was decided that Gentiles who had faith in Jesus would be prohibited from a few practices, but they would not be required to be circumcised or follow all the Mosaic laws. To communicate the decision to the Gentile Christians they wrote a letter. The part we want to highlight is Acts 15:28 (NIV) when they wrote the following words, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”. The resolution that came out of that Acts 15 gathering wasn’t the decision of one person but the Holy Spirit and a group of discerning disciples.

This reminds me of another scripture, Proverbs 15:22 (NIV) “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Although the idea for Word-N-Will started with the Holy Spirit nudging Seth to make it happen, it has continued to grow because Janene came on board and then Pastor Ken Gilmore. As an organization, we realize that increasing the team helps us move our mission forward. So, we are looking for a few more individuals who would be willing to serve on the Word-n-Will Board. The Board meets up to four times a year (although the minimum is two times) to get updates on our progress as a ministry, handle any fiduciary responsibilities, establish goals, and assure that the ministry remains on its mission. We do plan on reaching out to individuals in the coming months, but if you would like to volunteer, we would love to consider you for our board. Feel free to contact Pastor Ken at kengilmore@word-n-will.com if you would be interested in serving. Board positions are appointed, so there is no need to worry about an election and any related campaign costs! 🙂 We hope to hear from you!

Lesson 2 of Module 2

We are currently in the process of creating Lesson 2 of Module 2, which is on John 6:41-71. The text for this lesson builds on Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 recorded in John 6:1-13. Because it contains the second half of what we call The Bread of Life Discourse (6:25-59), it also builds on the first half of that discourse (6:25-40). Consequently, it frequently refers to verses covered in the previous lesson.

Image

This print depicts Jesus with two of his disciples who are holding the five loaves and two fish in the midst of a crowd of people. It is believed to have been created by Meester van Antwerpen between 1485 and 1491. Rijksmuseum public domain, (CCO 1.0), cropped.

Although we are making good progress on this lesson, it is taking longer than expected. Part of the problem is due to the difficult nature of interpreting some of the verses in this chapter. Scholars have differed in their understanding of these verses, and these differences have led to divisions within the church. We are taking extra time to carefully interpret these verses and then to clearly communicate their message. We believe a sound interpretation of these verses should be a source of unity within the church.

Through our study of this passage, particularly The Bread of Life Discourse (6:25-59), we have discovered that it is very carefully organized. Some scholars in the past assumed that it was anything but well-organized. For example, Rudolf Bultmann, who was a prominent New Testament scholar in the first half of the 20th century, wrote the following concerning John 6:25-59, “the present text is in a state of disorder, or at least of very poor order, which I can only explain by suggesting that it is the work of an editor who, having found a text which for external reasons been completely destroyed and so disordered, attempted himself to reconstruct the original order.”

Contrary to Bultmann, we have discovered that these verses are arranged symmetrically as depicted in the following diagram:

Image

Parts A and A’ contain key words that are not found elsewhere in this passage. The same is true for B and B’ as well as C and C’. We have created an interactive slide in this lesson that makes it easy to see the symmetrical placement of these key words and to realize that it has been very carefully organized. We believe the careful organization of this passage not only refutes claims that it is disorderly, but more importantly, by observing this symmetrical organization, we are able to acquire a more accurate understanding of its message.

Closed Captions Coming Soon

We are currently in the process of creating Lesson 2 of Module 2, which is on John 6:41-71. The text for this lesson builds on Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 recorded in John 6:1-13. Because it contains the second half of what we call The Bread of Life Discourse (6:25-59), it also builds on the first half of that discourse (6:25-40). Consequently, it frequently refers to verses covered in the previous lesson.

Giving

At the start of 2023, we set a goal of raising $40,000 to fund the mission of Word-N-Will. One avenue for funding is pursuing grants from different charitable foundations, but our ministry fills such a radically different function than what most foundations are set up to support, that our efforts have not yielded the results we were hoping to achieve.

Another avenue that has been successful is making a direct appeal for support from those on our mailing list and through our Facebook page. So far this year we have raised over $23,260 from 28 donors. The number of donors this year compared to the past two years has increased by 250%. If you are one of them, please know how much your generosity is appreciated and is helping us build our studies and fulfill the mission. If you have not joined the growing list of donors, please consider making a gift through our website at https://word-n-will.org/donate/ and remember every dollar donated makes a difference.

How You Can Help

We want to thank you for reading our newsletter and to learn more about the Word-n-Will ministry. If you believe in our mission to help people understand God’s word so they can do God’s will, we encourage you to partner with us. The following are different ways that you can help:

  • Pray for Our ministry: Pray that God would continue to guide and bless our ministry and that we would be attentive to his leading. Pray that the Bible studies we create would truly help people to know God’s word so that they can know God and do his will.
  • Use Our Gospel of John Lessons: If you are in a Small Group or Sunday School class, encourage your study group to use the lessons we have created so far for the Gospel of John. When you get to the end of a lesson, be sure to click the Submit Feedback icon and to send us your feedback. Your feedback will help us know what we are doing right and help us know where we need to make improvements to the lessons.
  • Like Us and Follow Us on Facebook: If you are on Facebook, please like and follow the Word-n-Will Facebook page. If you like and share it on your timeline more people will see our posts. If you leave a comment, Facebook increases the post’s priority.
  • Support Our Ministry Financially: Our ministry is only possible because of the financial support of people who believe in what we are doing. If you believe our ministry is addressing an important need, please consider supporting us financially. Your donation will make a difference. To donate, please go to our Donate page. Because we are a 501(c)(3), all donations are tax deductible.

May 2023 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in February of 2023.

2023 Giving

In February, we began reaching out to those on our email list, encouraging them to make a financial gift to our ministry. Eventually, as more studies are produced, our financial support base will shift to those participating in a study. Until then, the mission will only be met if a group of people is willing to support it with upfront gifts. Our goal this year is to raise $40,000. With 18 individuals/families providing support so far, we have raised $17,460. If you receive this newsletter and have not donated, please join the group that gets us to $40k this year! Every donation makes a difference. Our fundraising appeal will be headed to Facebook this month, so when you see it, be sure to like, comment, and share it to get the word out.

Image

Lesson 1 of Module 2

We completed Lesson 1 of Module 2 of our eLearning Bible studies for the Gospel of John. You can access Lesson 1 of Module 2 directly by clicking here or you can access it from the Bible Study Lessons for the Gospel of John page of our website. While Module 1 covered John 1-5, Module 2 will cover John 6-10.

Lesson 1 of Module 2 covers the first 40 verses of chapter 6. Because chapter 6 is a unit, we had to do all of our reading and note taking for the entire chapter before we could create this lesson. This extra work meant that it took longer to create this lesson, but it also means we have already completed a lot of the work for the next lesson.

In order to split our study of John 6 into two lessons, we had to find a natural breaking point somewhere near the middle of the chapter so that the first lesson would focus on the verses before the breaking point and the next lesson on the verses after the breaking point. Fortunately, John 6:25-59, which we call the Bread of Life Discourse, has two parts: verses 25-40 and verses 41-59. Therefore, we decided that Lesson 1 of Module 2 would cover John 6: 1-40, which includes the first half of the Bread of Life Discourse. Lesson 2 will then cover John 6:41-71, which includes the second half of the Bread of Life Discourse, and it will also tie both parts of chapter 6 together.

Image

This is a picture of a 6th century mosaic, which depicts Jesus’ feeding of the multitude that is recorded in John 6.
The mosaic is in the church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. The picture was taken by Nick Thompson, flickr, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Encouraging Feedback

Recently, Seth asked Dr. John Oswalt, who was one of his favorite professors at Asbury Theological Seminary in the early 1970s, to review one or more of the lessons that we have created for the Gospel of John. Although Dr. Oswalt is currently on the faculty of Asbury Theological Seminary and is also the Interim President of the Francis Asbury Society, he took the time to work through our lesson on John 1:1-18 and provided us with some feedback. His feedback included the following: “[I] am very favorably impressed with it. The study questions seem to be well-related to the teaching, and the teaching seems to be in ‘bite-sized’ pieces which can be digested easily. Furthermore, I think your analysis is accurate and helpful.”

It is very encouraging to get such positive feedback especially from a biblical scholar like Dr. Oswalt, who has written 11 books including a two-volume commentary on the book of Isaiah in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament. It takes a lot of time and effort to create our eLearning Bible studies, and it is very helpful to know that an expert in the field of biblical studies believes we are creating a quality product that can make a difference.

Video Production

In the past year, we have produced three Facebook video series: The Seven “I Am” Statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John; SENT – Seven verses from the Gospel of John that remind us of the true meaning of Christmas; and The Seven statements of Jesus from the Cross during Easter week. The videos are a successful way to invite people to visit our Facebook page and website. Since we don’t have a studio, we have improvised, turning the Seppanen’s dining room and Ken’s home office into makeshift studio space. Our plan is to create a video series four times a year. When you see them on Facebook, please remember to like them, leave a comment, and share them with your friends. Liking a Facebook post is great but liking it and leaving a comment will boost the post in the algorithm, which means that more people will see it. Sharing after liking and commenting is the best free advertising we could ever get. Here is a behind-the-scenes picture of one of our video productions in process.

Image

Technological Advancements

When Seth was in graduate school at the University of Michigan in the Near Eastern Studies Department, he began teaching adult Sunday School classes on different books of the Bible. In 1980, he taught a class on the Gospel of John. As you can see from the following image, his notes were handwritten because he didn’t have the time to type them and did not yet have a computer.

Image

When he taught the Gospel of John again in the 1990s, his Sunday School class teaching became more high-tech, and he began to use a lot of transparencies with an overhead projector. When he looks back at the content of his old lessons, he is thankful that both his understanding of the Gospel of John has grown as well as the technology that makes it possible to create engaging eLearning Bible studies that anyone with an internet connection can access. If he had not created Sunday School lessons using just pencil and paper over 40 years ago, he probably would not be creating eLearning Bible studies today.

How You Can Help

We want to thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and to learn more about the Word-n-Will ministry. If you believe in our mission to help people understand God’s word so they can do God’s will, we encourage you to partner with us. The following are different ways that you can help:

  • Pray for Our ministry: Pray that God would continue to guide and bless our ministry and that we would be attentive to his leading. Pray that the Bible studies we create would truly help people to know God’s word so that they can know God and do his will.
  • Use Our Gospel of John Lessons: If you are in a Small Group or Sunday School class, encourage your study group to use the lessons we have created so far for the Gospel of John. When you get to the end of a lesson, be sure to click the Submit Feedback icon and to send us your feedback. Your feedback will help us know what we are doing right and help us know where we need to make improvements to the lessons.
  • Like Us and Follow Us on Facebook: If you are on Facebook, please like and follow the Word-n-Will Facebook page. If you like and share it on your timeline more people will see our posts. If you leave a comment, Facebook increases the post’s priority.
  • Support Our Ministry Financially: Our ministry is only possible because of the financial support of people who believe in what we are doing. If you believe our ministry is addressing an important need, please consider supporting us financially. Your donation will make a difference. To donate, please go to our Donate page. Because we are a 501(c)(3), all donations are tax deductible.

February 2023 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in November of 2022.

2022 Year End Report and 2023 Goals

We have updated the Our Annual Reports page on our website with details about what we accomplished in 2022. Our biggest accomplishment was the completion of Module 1. This module makes it possible for study groups to begin to use our lessons and to provide us with feedback. Another major accomplishment was the launch of the Word-n-Will Facebook page on September 19th. Our goal is to use our Facebook page to help increase awareness of our ministry and drive traffic to our website. This year we have also come to a better understanding of why it is so difficult for a startup ministry such as ours to raise funds. Our ministry is very labor intensive, and it takes years of work to complete a study of a major book of a Bible. However, until we complete an entire study, and a large number of people begin to use it, it will be hard to convince major donors to support us.

Image

We have also updated the Our Goals page on our website with our goals for 2023 along with revised long-term goals. This year we have set specific goals in seven different areas. For example, we want to complete at least three lessons for Module 2 as well as a Module 1 Review lesson. We also want to recruit at least four study groups to work through the Module 1 lessons and provide us with feedback. This feedback will help us know what we are doing right as well as areas where we need to make improvements. In addition to getting study groups to work through our lessons, we also want to create at least six video interviews with end-users who have found our lessons helpful. We will then use these videos to create Facebook posts as well as to enhance the User Feedback page of our website.

Image

At the top of our long-term goals, is the goal to raise enough money so that we can add members to our team. We need to add team members so that we can increase the number of lessons that we create each year. Ideally, we would like to be able to create the lessons fast enough so that a study group can always have new lessons to work through. While we are currently focusing on lessons for the Gospel of John, eventually, we also want to create lessons for Genesis, Romans, Isaiah, and Revelation. Our long-term goals also include making updates to the lessons we have completed, such as adding closed captioning to make them accessible to the hearing impaired.

End-User Interview

As much as we love the studies we create at Word-n-Will and encourage everyone to use them, it is one thing to hear us talk about them and another thing to hear from someone outside our organization. In January, we had the chance to do a quick video chat with DeeDee Rhoades about her experience utilizing our studies. Although DeeDee doesn't work for Word-n-Will, we have known her for a number of years as we all attended and served at Keystone Church together. We know you will enjoy listening to her perspective.

Module 2 Progress

Module 2 of the Gospel of John will consist of six lessons that cover John chapter 6 through chapter 10. The first two lessons will be on John chapter 6. We have completed the research for these two lessons and have gathered all the images of artwork that we can find that are related to this chapter.

The photo on the right is one of the images that we are using in Lesson 8, which focuses on John 6:1-40. It is part of an embroidered cope (an ecclesiastical vestment) that was made in the 19th-century by the Dominican sisters in Stone, Shaffordsire, England. This photo was taken by Father Lawrence Lew, O.P., flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). It is one of many images that we found that included the boy with his five barley loaves and two fish.

Image
While our work on Lesson 8 is proceeding slower than we would like, we continue to make steady progress. We have been slowed down by the Christmas holidays, Seth and Janene’s trips to Minnesota to be with his mom during her last days, and Seth just recently being sick for most of a week.

World Headquarters Upgrade

You probably didn’t know that we have a world headquarters that could be upgraded! Actually, our world headquarters is part of a large room in the basement of Seth and Janene’s home. It is the official location for our ministry and because our eLearning Bible studies are accessible anywhere in the world, we look at it as our world headquarters.

Prior to upgrading our office or world headquarters, it had two desks in different corners of the room with a laptop and two or more monitors on each desk. Unfortunately, the laptops and monitors took up most of the space on the top of the desks leaving very little workspace. After much thought, Seth came up with a plan to bring the two desks together and to add a new eight-foot-long desktop.

Image

In the picture above, the eight-foot-long desktop that Seth built runs along the back wall. Seth’s workspace is on the left with the three monitors and the large TV monitor, and Janene’s workspace is on the right. The new arrangement provides a lot more workspace and makes it a lot easier for Seth and Janene to work together. We believe this office upgrade will help to increase our productivity.

How You Can Help

We appreciate your interest in the Word-n-Will ministry 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 different ways that you can help:

  • Pray for our ministry: Pray that God would continue to guide and bless our ministry and that we would be attentive to his leading. Pray that the Bible studies we create would truly help people to know God’s word so that they can truly know God and do his will.
  • 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. You can only fully understand and appreciate our ministry by actually using the lessons that we have created.
  • Like us and follow us on Facebook: If you are on Facebook, please like and follow the Word-n-Will Facebook page. If you like and share it on your timeline more people will see our posts. If you leave a comment, Facebook increases the post’s priority.
  • Support our ministry financially: Our ministry is only possible because of the financial support of people who believe in what we are doing. If you believe our ministry is addressing an important need, please consider supporting us financially. Your donation will make a difference. To donate, please go to our Donate page. Because we are a 501(c)(3), all donations are tax deductible.

November 2022 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in August.

Facebook

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.

Image

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.

Image

Financial Support

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.

Image

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.

August 2022 - Word-n-Will News

The following is a brief update on the Word-n-Will ministry since our last newsletter in May.

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.

Praxis Application

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.

Facebook Posts

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.

Image

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.

Image
Although we have completed all seven lessons for Module 1, we will continue to improve them. Over the next couple of months, we will finish reworking the lesson’s discussion questions based on feedback that we are gathering. We will also be updating the layout and formatting of the lessons to make them as consistent as possible.

Praxis Application

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

Image

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?

Foundations

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

Image

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.

Image

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?

Image

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.

Image

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.