In 1986 I read a book that gave a detailed summary of a study of all the fastest growing churches in America from the smallest to the largest. I saw that there were many different programs and missions but three were a common thread that seemed to dominate in the top churches.
- A structured and interesting formal Bible study program
- Small groups that met in the homes of the congregations with focus on:
- Bible study
- Holding one another accountable
- Stephen’s Ministry
I was on a hunt for a formal Bible study program that would motivate and inspire our church.
In 1987 Bishop Richard Wilke developed a new Bible Study course. It was produced with Perkins Seminary and featured many of the better Bible Scholars of our day. It was called “Disciple Bible Study”. There were printed lessons and a video for each class session. I was meeting once a week with our Pastor and told him all about the course and showed him the material I had received. There was a $400 charge for each church that wanted to start the series. He believed we could do it on our own without the cost. I pointed out we had that opportunity for years and we had not started yet. He still declined.
Well, not ever being one to take no for an answer, I promptly registered our church and signed both the Pastor and myself for the first class. He was a good sport and the two of us attended the first training session, which was a weekend at the Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas. After the training, we decided that I would teach a night class of twelve students and he would do the same for a day class. I started my class about a month later but, he never did start his. Of the twelve students I had for the once a week class for nine months, nine of them became Disciple teachers. I am happy to say that over 900 people in our church have gone through the series and, right now there are four current classes in session. Disciple II, III and IV later came out and I had the pleasure of teaching each of these classes.
Photo of the Stoneleigh found here.