A new resource from Adventist Information Ministry (AIM) – the evangelistic contact center of the North American Division – and Adventist Learning Community (ALC), provides an opportunity for those longing for fellowship and Bible study as many churches continue operating virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. “A Picture of God” offers 16 free, online, easy-to-navigate lessons that build on each other to reveal God’s character to seekers.
Visitors can select a “self-guided” or “collaborative” lesson plan. The collaborative selection comes with the ability to connect with an online or in-person spiritual mentor — a member of AIM's digital evangelism team. “Collaborative” users also receive feedback and encouragement after each lesson. A team member is also on-call for self-guided users if they have questions throughout their studies.
“It quickly became clear that while nearly every church has taken to livestreaming their worship services, many of them don't offer much beyond that regarding interactive experiences, relationship building, and discipleship for their digital congregations,” said Angel Easton, AIM digital media manager. “AIM's digital evangelism team has done hours of research to scout out churches within the division offering more interactive and engaging options in the digital space. With this data, we are constantly expanding our ability to connect individuals to churches within North America that offer an exceptional digital church experience.”
Currently, there are 277 people enrolled in a self-guided study and 52 in the collaborative study. Thirty-one people have been connected with a local or online church, and eight have accepted Jesus as their Savior – one of whom has been put in contact with a church in Oregon for baptism. In addition, many have reached out with questions or prayer requests. And AIM's digital evangelism team also partners with the General Conference to connect international visitors to local churches in their regions.
“This experience was made for anyone who is interested in learning about God. It's quite a generalized approach,” said Adam Fenner, director of Adventist Learning Community. “It's featured on Adventist.org, the official website of the denomination, and marketed through the NAD Ministerial Association’s newsletter, ‘Best Practices.’ It's also making the rounds on social media through word of mouth.”
The groundwork for the study was laid by Keith Bowman II, who at the time was associate director of pastoral professional development for ALC. “After surveying pastors around the division, he noted the need for a modern approach to Bible study for members and seekers,” said Fenner. Bowman then wrote the lessons, which were peer reviewed by staff at the NAD, General Conference, and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.
Plans are underway to build more specific Bible studies on topics including health, marriage, relationships, and stress.