‘Encounter Jesus’ looks like a devotional book. Those who begin this eight-week study, however, will find that it’s anything but. Instead, it is an active journey of discovery, one that asks participants to, among other things, journal, sing, gather stones and create a timeline. The purpose of the study and video series, say creators Carolyn Moore and Kris Key, is simple.
‘To lead students into an authentic encounter with Jesus,’ Moore explained. ‘To help them see the difference between ‘a’ Jesus — any version of Him that is convenient, comfortable or culturally correct — and ‘the’ Jesus — the radically loving, transforming, redeeming Messiah of the New Testament.’
‘By practical activities, people can witness Jesus in their everyday lives,’ Key added. ‘The study is to help grow people in their faith and realize that Jesus is the only One they need no matter what they face in life.’
Moore, founding pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, and Key, women’s minister at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church — both in Augusta, Georgia — had already worked together on several projects. At Key’s request, Moore had even led a women’s retreat that Trinity puts on annually. So when Seedbed, Asbury’s publishing project, asked Moore to produce a Bible-study series, she knew Key was the perfect person to help.
‘I wasn’t so sure I wanted to produce the workbook to accompany the videos — at least not alone. That’s how Kris became involved,’ Moore explained. ‘She and I were already friends and colleagues, and I knew she was gifted at leading studies and even writing her own material, so I asked if she’d help with the production of the workbook. Her contribution of research and her fresh perspective gives the overall study a depth and breadth it could never have had if I’d tried to go it alone.’
Moore had already been mulling the subject matter, which came to her after she and her congregation provided meals to a low-income apartment complex in Augusta. After the meal and a worship service, they offered an invitation to receive Christ and about 10 people stood up, including a man named Leroy. Afterwards, the two spoke.
‘Leroy said to me, ‘I stood up tonight because I realized something. I realized I know a Jesus, but I don’t know the Jesus. And that changes everything,’ Moore said. ‘Leroy’s comment changed me. I began to think about the difference between ‘a’ Jesus and ‘the’ Jesus. And later that year, I preached a series of messages on that theme, using only the red letters (the words in the Bible actually spoken by Jesus) to talk about this Jesus who calls us to follow Him.’
‘Encounter Jesus,’ just as Jesus’ call to follow Him, asks for a commitment. Key says that even students who complete only a small portion of the weekly activities will experience a deeper relationship with Jesus. Moore adds, though, that it is meant to be an active endeavor rather than a passive study.
‘It’s the difference between a study and an encounter,’ she explained. ‘A study is about the information. We can control how close we get to it, and how much we allow it to change us. We can learn about Jesus and still keep Him at arm’s length. An encounter, on the other hand, requires us to interact with Jesus himself, to dialogue with Him, to learn from Him in ways that leave us changed. To skip the interactive exercises is to risk missing the encounter.’
On Line: Seedbed.com
or phone 615 442-8582
mailing address:Seedbed Resources
204 North Lexington Ave.
Wilmore, KY 40390
The DVD is $39.95 and the workbook is $16.95.