LENTEN STUDIES: a useful tool for a local Church.

For the uninitiated, “Lenten Studies” sound like Studies which have been borrowed rather than purchased! For the initiated, “Lenten Studies” may never have been a feature in our Christian life or Ministry. We may even think of them as belonging to a by-gone 'Churchy' era.

For many years, some Anglican Churches have made a great deal of the six weeks leading up to Easter, as a time of personal reflection and preparation for the celebration of Easter. “Lenten Studies” have been prepared by all sorts of people to be used during this period.

“Lenten Studies” have been produced by the Media Department (now YouthWorks) of the Diocese of Sydney for many years, always written by a Bishop of the Australian Church. In recent years, contributors have been Evangelical Bishops including Stephen Hale, Harry Goodhew, Tony Nichols, Peter Brain, Ray Smith and yours truly. The books usually consist of forty daily Studies for personal use and sets of discussion questions for use by small groups. Sometimes, Parish Ministers base their sermons for the six weeks on the theme or book of Scripture being studied.

In 1993, I became the Senior Minister of Penrith Anglican Church at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Never having done it before, I decided to experiment with the introduction of “Lenten Studies”. About 100 Church members bought copies and began to use them through the week. Then on each Wednesday evening, they came together for an 'overview' of the week and a time for questions on the material they'd been looking at privately.

Over the last couple of years, some of our Churches in NW Australia have bought copies and formed new Bible Study groups which used the discussion questions. Some of these folk had never belonged to a Bible Study before.

Of course, the study books don't have to be used in the lead up to Easter. They can be used at any time at all.

I have written a book of “Lenten Studies for use in 2010 which happens to be the Centenary of our part of the Anglican Church. The book is entitled World-changing sermons from Acts. It contains forty daily Bible Studies, six sermon outlines and a theme song. Each week, we look at one of the sermons in the Book of Acts. The books cost about $10 each but Youth Works offers a generous discount for orders of forty or more.

If you are keen to see your people studying the Bible for themselves and gathering in small groups for mutual encouragement, I commend the concept of “Lenten Studies”.

David Mulready
is Bishop of North West Australia and a long-time EFAC Australia enthusiast. His 2010 Lenten Studies will be available from YouthWorks and a good Christian bookstore near you.