Congregants of Lighthouse Outreach Center (Waipahu, Hawaii) are having church at home on a daily basis thanks to the launch of Bible Engagement Project’s Listen curriculum. Pastor Headrick Hunkin fills us in.
Bible Engagement Project could not have launched at a more perfect time for Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu, Hawaii.
Pastor Headrick Hunkin had been eagerly waiting for the launch of the Bible Engagement Project curriculum since he heard about it at an Assemblies of God General Council presentation in 2019. “What motivated me to subscribe were the statistics from Barna about the lack of biblical literacy not just in the AG, but among Christians in general,” he says. This AG-commissioned study found that under one-fourth of practicing Christians today display high levels of Bible engagement. (For more information, click here.)
“I was initially disappointed when I found out I had to wait a year for the launch of Bible Engagement Project. But what’s ironic about that disappointment is that now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, our church needs this curriculum more than we would have in 2019,” says Pastor Headrick. “We’re not meeting physically right now, so this curriculum is the answer to our prayer for how to reach our people while they’re at home.”
HAVING CHURCH AT HOME
At the beginning of August, Pastor Headrick began encouraging his congregants to use the app-based curriculum as family devotions. “I told our people that the app has all the lessons they’ll need for every age in their family. They can come together in the morning or evening for family devotions—or whenever is good for them. There’s something written specifically for every age.” Year one of the Bible Engagement Project curriculum, called Listen, walks congregants through the Bible in forty weeks. Each lesson is age-aligned so that preschoolers, children, youth, and adults walk through the same Scriptures at the same time.
“Some of the families who’ve started using the app have told me that they’re amazed to discover things they never knew about the Bible. They’re also amazed at how relevant it is. They’re seeing what the Bible says unfolding before their eyes in current events with the pandemic and everything else going on. They love how everything’s broken down in the app. They really love the Faith Verse, too— something they can memorize, understand, and remember.”
Kids and Preschool age levels focus on the same weekly Faith Verse, a Bible verse that serves as the central text for the week. Adult and Youth age levels cover the same Bible stories and Scripture passages as the younger age levels. Bible Engagement Project participants can follow along with lesson content, read related Scriptures, take notes, and view the weekly videos all without leaving the app, thanks to Faithlife app developers.
Pastor Headrick is invested in family discipleship for his ministerial team, too, and not just the people whom they serve. “I told the other leaders in my church that I want them to pastor their families during this time. I don’t want them to worry about curriculum; that’s why I gave them Listen from Bible Engagement Project. I said, ‘Take your families through this. Lead them well with this.’ I encouraged the children’s workers to walk through the lessons with their own children while church isn’t meeting in person. We are having church at home.”
A CHURCH FOR THE COMMUNITY
Lighthouse Outreach Center not only uses Listen curriculum for in-person family devotions, but their online small groups use Bible Engagement Project curriculum, too. “Some people ask me how big my church is, and I tell them that it reaches from one side of Waipahu to the other,” Pastor Headrick smiles. “I purchased more app licenses than there are congregants in my church because people throughout the community are involved in our Bible Engagement Project journey, even if they attend another church. I currently preach online on Sunday mornings, and I prepare messages based on what we’re studying in the app each week. I talk about Bible Engagement Project in my livestream and encourage people to email me if interested. They do, and I send them a link to download the app.”
Pastor Headrick has found that communication has increased exponentially among online small group members. “When I conduct Bible studies at church in person, it’s often my experience that few people want to volunteer answers. But now that we have these Bible study groups online, people communicate so much more in the studies! Being behind a screen and typing to ‘talk’ has increased their volume of conversation.”
“I used to lead a men’s group in person, but now I tell the men of that group, ‘You don’t have to wait until you go inside a church to hear the Word of God! Go through the Bible Engagement Project session on your lunch break; read the personal devotions then.’ And they do!’” People have come up to me and said, “Pastor, I thank you for this, because this really helps me keep going with the anxiety and depression I’m fighting in this pandemic.”
From the outset, Pastor Headrick not only encouraged churchgoers’ families to engage in the daily Bible Engagement Project devotions, but he has instituted this in his own family. He attests firsthand to the power of family devotions in his multigenerational setting. “Instead of standing behind a pulpit, now I’m sitting here at my dining table and speaking to my family through the weekly devotions. We have many ages in our family, and everybody has a question—the teenagers, the kids, the adults—and we’re able to answer them. Why? Because we’re all studying the Bible together! Just last night we started the lesson on forgiveness, and my niece asked me, ‘Uncle, what does 70 x 7 mean?’ As a family we were able to tell her that it means we need to forgive many times. She began learning more about God’s grace and how it is sufficient for us in everything. What I love about the curriculum is that it allows my family to open up.”
Pastor Headrick is a firm believer in the transformative power of family. “The church of today is birthed in the family,” he asserts, “and that’s where we need the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us more than ever. Bible Engagement Project has been key in ushering in moments where my family meets the presence of God. There’s a prayer at the end of each session, and in my family, we say the prayer aloud together. We rotate who leads out. Tomorrow my father will, the day after my son will, and so on. I believe the church starts here.”
The Listen curriculum has not only been a blessing to Lighthouse Outreach Center but has challenged Pastor Headrick personally. “Bible Engagement Project has really encouraged me as a minister to seek the presence of God,” he concludes. “Reading the Bible is one thing, but there’s something powerful about reading the Bible and discussing it. This is the answer to what we’re facing today. It’s the Word of God that’s going to bring light to this darkness we are in. The Bible is the most powerful tool God has given us besides His church. And to be biblically literate means to really understand this powerful tool.”