Listen Curriculum Can Develop New Ministry Leaders: Here’s How
By Renée Griffith | Posted In Personal Stories
That’s how it is for the night maintenance crew at the AG National Office. For them, chapel is part of the job. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, chapel was replaced with small groups who used the Bible Engagement Project app. The night Maintenance crew spreads out across the auditorium—and supervisor Nancy Lee decided to spread the responsibilities, too.
“We have a different person lead every week,” Lee says. “The Listen curriculum makes it easy to rotate leaders.”
“It’s amazing to see people come of out their shells and begin to lead and grow,” says Dr. Julie Horner, Bible Engagement Project curriculum director. “We have people from all over the world in this room. They might never otherwise gather together to study the Bible. But here they are, and they’re growing.”
The night I attended, Uriah Lee (no relation to Nancy Lee) came to the front of the auditorium. A recent college graduate with a Native American heritage, he was about to facilitate his first lesson—Adult Listen volume 5, session 1: David and Goliath. Before the session began, Derrick Crandell handed out lesson questions e-translated in Hungarian and Spanish for bilingual team members.
Following Listen Adult, Uriah began with an engaging question. Then he projected the session video from the app on his phone to a TV. After a follow-up question and a real-life example from the “Consider” section, Uriah led the team into the study of 1 Samuel 17 and 21. They ended their time together by sharing prayer requests and then dispersing to their work activities.
“We go our separate ways every night because we all work in different parts of the building,” says Crandell. “But in these chapel times, we come together. We share some of the struggles we’ve had, and we can find a lot of similarities through that.”
“When we first started,” Crandell reflects, “hardly anyone would talk. Now it’s becoming freer and freer.” This is true for both participants and facilitators.
Edgar Ramirez, a first-generation American with a Mexican heritage, explains that facilitating a Listen session has stretched him positively. “Before this, I hadn’t really led a group before. Speaking in public isn’t something I ever chose to do. But by taking my turn leading this group, I did something I believed I couldn’t.”
The same is true for Christian Molinary from Puerto Rico. “God has called me to youth pastoring and missions. But when I went to lead a small group here, I was ridiculously nervous at first. Then I started going through the session to prepare, and I could feel God helping me. It’s not me; it’s Him speaking through me.” Connections made through this small group have led Horner to ask Molinary to volunteer as youth pastor at the church she attends. So Molinary is now gaining ministry experience too.
Sergio Marroquin, a former church planter/pastor in New Jersey and originally from Guatemala, points out that none of the crew has ever been in a small group like this before. “We all come from different churches and even different places around the world. This is like a midweek service. We have the opportunity to learn from each other and to learn the Word of God together.”
Marroquin adds that this is the first time he’s preached and taught in English. “All my preaching and study have been in Spanish, so facilitating these sessions presented a challenge. I’ve found it amazing that God has given this opportunity to bring the Word and deliver it in settings that we haven’t even thought about.”
Leonor Salgado from El Salvador agrees. Through a translator, she shared that she enjoys hearing prayer requests and praise reports from the other group members as they grow closer. She appreciates the different perspectives each person has on the Bible stories and enjoys being part of this diverse, international group of people.
Lee is grateful for the way that Bible Engagement sessions prepare every facilitator from her crew to not only lead but lead with confidence. “These sessions give so much material. They give the Scripture, the context, the discussion questions. Even for those not familiar with leading a small group of any kind, the curriculum is set up in a way that doesn’t make it awkward.”
The small group they didn’t choose has brought the Night Maintenance crew a sense of unity in an otherwise siloed work environment. While English, Hungarian, and Spanish speakers may not be in every Bible Engagement small group, in this one they are present and participating. That reminds me of the body of Christ found in Revelation, where every tribe and tongue and people and language are gathered and declaring that salvation belongs to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 7:9).
“It’s kind of ironic that I taught a Bible lesson on David and Goliath,” says Uriah. “I’m an introvert in general, and I was going through the lesson over and over again, asking God to show up. I was asking God for the confidence to know that He would take over when I got here. And once I got up there, He did.”