We’ve barely put away the Advent wreath, and it’s already time to prepare for Lent 2016. In fact, Lent is so early on the calendar this year that there are less than seven weeks between Christmas Day and Ash Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016. But even with this short timeline, there are several key steps that you can take between now and Lent 2016 to create a meaningful Lenten experience for your congregation.
A few weeks ago, we announced that there will be an Episcopal District-wide Lenten Study for the Seventh Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. We are encouraging CME churches throughout the New York-Washington Region and Carolina Region to offer a church-wide Lenten study and sermon series based on the book, 24 Hours that Changed the World by Adam Hamilton. This study includes a book, devotional, and DVD filmed on location in the Holy Land, and walks readers through the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life, from the Last Supper to the Resurrection. [Churches that will be studying other books are also welcome to participate.]
We are encouraging churches to form Lenten small groups to meet weekly to discuss the book and DVD, creating an atmosphere of fellowship and discipleship. If your church does not currently have a small group ministry, Lenten small groups are a great way to pilot the ministry and plant the seeds of a larger ministry of discipleship through small groups at your church.
The purpose of the Lenten Study and the purpose of small groups are to fulfill the biblical vision of discipleship, when early Christians met in house-churches and “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The benefit of a regional and episcopal district-wide study is that we can prepare for this season together, sharing best practices and encouraging one another in this ministry.
To this end, we will offer conference calls during the month of January to consult and coach on forming small groups and to prepare to offer the Lenten Study in local churches. Our first coaching call is scheduled for Tuesday, January 12 at 8 pm. In the meantime, here are the next steps you can take to prepare for Lenten Study 2016.
- Review the slides from my recent presentations on discipleship, introducing the Lenten Study.
- Read the CME Lenten Study packet and share the information with key leaders at your church.
- Participate in conference call scheduled for Tuesday, January 12 at 8 pm. Call information will be forwarded via email
- Register online for CME Lenten Study 2016
- Check the Seventh Episcopal District Facebook page for updates about Lenten Study 2016
- For more information on 24 Hours that Changed the World, including posters, press releases, and other evangelism tools, visit www.adamhamilton.org/books/24-hours. Scroll to bottom. Click on “Leader Helps
- Invite your congregation to join in prayer as we prepare to enter this season together.
Special Note: I would like to thank Bishop James B. Walker for the opportunity to serve as Regional and Episcopal District Director of Evangelism for the New York-Washington Region and the Seventh Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. I look forward to working with Bishop Walker, the Presiding Elders, clergy, and laity to grow together as disciples of Jesus Christ and to expand the kingdom of God. It is in this spirit that I offer these resources.