Caldwell Experiments With Community Bible Study
In April and May, Jim Berglund, Caldwell Church pastor, tried a new experiment. Instead of the typical evangelistic series, he opened the Community Bible Study.
This approach, with studies conducted every weekday at noon and repeated at 6 p.m. for three full weeks, is more low-key than a traditional series. It uses a study format with questions and answers filled out by the participant on printed lessons. Instead of Revelation and prophecy, the main theme is righteousness by faith. Doctrines, including unique Adventist truths, are presented in a relational framework. The classroom style allows questions that tailor the study more to the individual.
Another part of the experiment involved using more direct advertising to invite people. Members were asked to invite friends and neighbors, although none of the guests actually came from this method. Several weeks prior to the event, a community survey was taken door to door with the Bible study as one of its options. An invitation to the Community Bible Study was given to those who expressed interest.
Inactive members, non-member spouses, non-baptized attendees and others who might benefit from the study were personally invited, and invitation cards were distributed in the neighborhood. A Bible study card was mailed to part of the community two weeks before the meetings began. Although these yielded no guests at the Community Bible Study, seven Bible study requests came in and were followed up.
Two of the six Bible study guests came from advertisements on Craigslist and community bulletin boards. One came from a personal invitation to join the Bible study evaluation program, which offered $75 to evaluate the lessons. Berglund directly invited the remaining guests.
"We have made some new friends, all of whom are attending our worship services," reports Berglund. "It has been a wonderful experiment, and we have shared the gospel and our faith with some new people. … All in all it has been a success."