With Prof's Bible Study Methods
Mark A. Evans (ThM 97)
Since graduating from DTS in 1997, I have worked as a Christian bookstore manager, an associate pastor, a police chaplain, a deputy sheriff, and now lead pastor of Catalyst Community Church in Oregon City, Oregon. Catalyst (formerly Oregon City Baptist Church) has been in existence about 40 years without significant growth. I was hired in 2008 with the main purpose of expository teaching.
Having memorized Prof’s Bible Study Methods, I realized that observation, interpretation, and application were also useful in studying the congregation and the community. Although this is an ongoing and never-ending work, it called for some immediate changes in how we did ministry. We have turned our focus outward into the community and specifically toward the children and youth.
Our observations showed that there are many kids with big needs and little support in the nearby low-income housing developments. Our interpretation was that the cycle of poverty and hopelessness would likely continue without intervention. Our application was to provide basic needs like shoes, coats, meals, and school supplies. We develop relationships with them through backyard Bible clubs and try to get to know their parents and invite them to church and other programs that meet their needs. These relationships take time and continual effort, and the fruit of our labor is slow in coming.
Yet it is worth every minute of our efforts. An example is a five-year-old girl with ADHD who came to one of our summer clubs. Follow up efforts were not helpful in building relationships. However, two years later, her mom brought her to church and told us about their financial situation. She was recently unemployed and had little food or gas. The church rallied and filled her refrigerator with fresh food and gave her a gift card for gas. Mom started attending regularly, accepted Christ, and was baptized. She was recently married to a man who has 3 of his own high-need children. We are determined to love them all with truth and action.
I remember asking one of my Greek professors, Elliot Greene, if the average pastor goes through all the work of parsing verbs and translating the original languages. His answer has stuck with me and helped guide my entire ministry. He said, “You aren’t called to be average!” So here I am, taking the time to teach truth and love well in a community that the “average” person would rather overlook.