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Carl Billings

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The goal of this paper is developing a study guide that helps a diverse group of students, found in the local congregation, to become apprentices of Jesus by encountering John’s Gospel. The thesis was tested at Discover Church, a congregation located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, which has experienced rapid urbanization with an influx of people from different ethnic backgrounds. This dramatic change has brought a distinct mix to the congregation.

The study argues that many Christians struggle with a lack of biblical knowledge. This insecurity has significantly impacted Discover Church. It has fostered a culture of clericalism, where the laity believes that only clergy are qualified to read and teach Scripture, an inability by laity to articulate their faith, as well as robbing Christians of the full witness of Scripture. The Strands of John study is designed to counter this biblical ignorance.

The foundation for Strands of John is formed by three principles: first, the unique nature of the Gospel of John; second, an affirmation of the Lutheran understanding of Scripture and “the Priesthood of the Baptized;” finally, classical practices of reading Scripture as excellent tools for the believer to interact with the Bible. Three goals were built on this foundation: help the student to encounter the heart of the Gospel of John, introduce the student to the inductive Bible study method, and familiarize the student with spiritual practices used in reading the Bible. Strands of John was originally taught to over seventy-five students. While not a panacea to solve biblical illiteracy, it does take an important step to making the Bible accessible to the laity.

Content Reader: Richard Peace, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Peace, Richard

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Discover Church (Brooklyn Park, Minn.); John; Lutheran Church.; Church renewal


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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