Rev'd Peter Whittington, Diocesan Director of Studies explains how The Bible Course starting on 4th October connects to the Rule of Life.
“The Bible Course helps us respond to two of the words in the Rule of Life: Read and Learn. Firstly, the course will help us in our reading of the Bible by giving an overview of the complete Bible and begin to explore how the parts fit together. Whether you are new to reading the Bible or have been reading it for many years this will help us grasp the breadth of the Bible and enable us to place passages within this larger setting. As well as that big picture the course will give the opportunity to Read and encounter some of the detail in the Bible. A series of readings are provided to read and ponder between each session, covering a range of the different books in the Bible. As Bishop Paul wrote “scripture is fathomlessly deep” and the course will open up some of that depth.
Secondly, the course will give the opportunity to learn, to not simply learn the content of the Bible but consider how we interpret it and apply it to our lives. Learning by watching some expertly produced videos from The Bible Society but then engaging in dialogue and learning from one another in small groups. As people will be attending from across the Diocese there will probably be a wide range of views concerning the Bible and how to interpret it, that will be both challenging and enriching. As Bishop Paul wrote, we need to approach our learning together by saying “As disciples together in the Diocese of Liverpool and around the world, we learn from our God who loves us and who gives us one another…”
Whilst The Bible Course will focus on the two words Read and Learn we must not treat these two words in isolation but within the context of the whole of the Rule of Life. As we Read the Bible and Learn about the Bible this should transform and inspire us to pray, tell, serve and give.
For those already involved in leading some form of mission or ministry I hope that the course will help them consider how the Bible can be used effectively within that ministry. That will be to reflect on how the Bible is used and engaged with explicitly in areas such as worship, preaching, small groups, youth work or children’s groups. However I also hope that leaders will consider how God is able to speak to us through the Bible to shape that mission or ministry; how it can give vision and guidance, how it can help in making decisions.
For all who attend I hope that it will inspire us to consider the place the Bible has in our discipleship, to Read and Learn more. It may be that people will leave knowing that there are parts of the Bible they need to engage with in more depth or issues concerning how we interpret and apply to the Bible in our daily lives. Hopefully everyone will be able to consider the practical ways in which they will continue to make Read and Learn part of their Rule of Life.
Above I hope and pray that people will be deepened in their desire to engage with Bible as a way that God speaks to us, that we will encounter the Bible as a means by which God transforms and shapes us in our daily lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
About Rev’d Peter Whittington
I came to Liverpool Diocese to serve my curacy and, having spent all my life to that point in the South of England, to see what the North was like; I have stayed! My curacy was at Christ Church Netherley, I was then Vicar of St George Huyton and then at St Luke Orrell. Two years ago, after 21 years in parish ministry, I took up the role of Director of Studies for the Diocese at the All Saints Centre for Mission & Ministry. The All Saints Centre trains people from Reader and Ordained Ministry an part-time courses across six Diocese.
What are your plans as Director of Studies? What will be your focus?
A major focus of the role is guiding and journeying with people through their preparation for a new ministry. This is not simply about the practicalities concerning courses, study and placements but about helping them discern how God is shaping and forming them to be the person, disciple and minister he is calling them to be. It is wonderful privilege to work alongside those who have responded to God’s call and are willing to make the sacrificial commitment that training requires. High points of each year are the Ordination and Reader Licensing Services as people end training and enter their new ministry.
My main teaching focus on the course is biblical studies, it is a wonderful to spend so much time studying and discussing the Bible with people. However whilst studying the background, context and content of the Bible is fascinating, as a course training people for leadership within the church how we interpret and apply the Bible to the contemporary life of faith must remain the focus. One of the challenges I particularly feel we face is how we allow the Bible to shape the life of the church. Not simply to consider how we use it in services or small groups and in our personal discipleship but how we allow God to speak through the Bible to shape the visions, mission and decisions of the church. Within the Diocese I am part of the Life Long Learning team and hope that running The Bible Course with the other team members this term will help people across the Diocese consider some of those issues.