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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Numbers game

Congregation counts on Bible study

Faith Lutheran Church, Hutchinson, Minn., is all about playing the numbers game.

Sure, they count worship attendance. But they also used numbers to get members to participate in the ELCA Living Faith Bible study.

Last summer congregational leaders introduced the Living Faith study at worship by using the number 350 in print and verbal announcements. Their goal was to get 350 of their 500 Sunday worshipers involved in a weekly Bible study.

The next week they used "45" to get the attention of potential participants: They wanted those 350 people to meet for 45 minutes each week. The number 40 took center stage during week three. To get the study rolling, Faith needed 40 leaders. Finally they concentrated on "one," announcing: "We need you, one person, to be part of this study."

Months later, 200 people of all ages are eager to extend their eight-week study into January. Of the 23 study groups, three are made up of high school students.

Lay ministry coordinator Marsha Hantge, said: "People are hungry for it. This study is short. It's to the point. It's not time-consuming. I think the 45 minutes is what spoke to people."

The study is one resource from Call to Discipleship, an offshoot of the ELCA Initiative on Teach the Faith. Hantge says the study is a success at Faith because it isn't intimidating and the questions elicit good conversation.

Faith structured the study so the pastors introduce a weekly theme during Wednesday evening worship. Groups then meet on their own the following week to discuss what was presented and to follow the simple study guide.

But apart from a good study, she credits the Spirit with blowing numbers their way. "People are hungry to talk about Jesus," she said. "The Spirit is drawing them in to this. The Spirit is moving them to get interested."



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