The Bible is a curious thing, isn’t it. Inimitable among texts. As ancient as they come. And yet each time we look at a text, fresh insight awaits.
For five years I worked as managing editor of our Gather ’Round Sunday school curriculum. Working on Bible outlines and writing story summaries allowed me to examine afresh well-known texts such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) and really read for the first time some lesser-known texts such as the story of the Daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27).
If all the stories in the Bible are important, how do we decide which stories are the most important—ones that deserve our utmost attention, discernment or devotion? This is a hard question, with no easy answer, but one that we as publishers wrestle with all the time.
Right now Mennonite Church Canada is engaged in a process called Being a Faithful Church. This process is designed to help congregations study and discern Scripture for our time. It looks at both helpful and unhelpful ways Christians interpret the Bible.
And Mennonite Church USA congregations are undertaking a Year of the Bible. Rather than falling into one particular calendar year, congregations are asked to devote a year to biblical study, with each congregation setting its own design and schedule.
At MennoMedia, the publisher for these two denominations, we asked ourselves how we might create an effective resource to engage the Bible during these study periods.
The result is Dig In: Thirteen Scriptures to Help us Know the Way. This new, 13-session print and video curriculum focuses on 13 core Scriptures for Anabaptist-Mennonites. (Why 13? Because that makes for a convenient quarter.)
How did we come up with 13 core Scriptures? The process was not easy, for sure. I brainstormed possibilities with Byron Rempel-Burkholder as MennoMedia’s managing editor for books, Dave Bergen from Mennonite Church Canada and Terry Shue from Mennonite Church USA.
What are the most loved texts? Should we include just one text from the Sermon on the Mount? What should be the balance of Old and New Testament texts? Anyone’s list of 13 top Scriptures will undoubtedly be different. But here’s the list for our curriculum:
- John 1:1-18
- Deuteronomy 6:4-9
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17
- Isaiah 53:1-12
- Mark 8:27–9:1
- Philippians 2:1-11
- Romans 12:9-21
- Matthew 5:1-12
- Matthew 5:38-48
- Matthew 25:31-46
- Matthew 28:1-8, 16-20
- Acts 2:1-4, 14-28, 41-47
- Colossians 3:1-17
Each Dig In session asks participants to engage in Bible study first from their own context. What does the text mean to me? What does the text mean in my context? Participants then think and discuss more broadly how the text has been applied in the church. Each session also includes about five minutes of video, with two people in each video who share how they view and interpret the text in their own contexts.
Check out the video component for session one, focusing on John 1:1-18. And then look for Dig In by early June.
—Amy Gingerich, editorial director