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2003 Conversations


Joy Williams: Rooted in Grace (December 29, 2002)

Judy Rachels: Christmas gifts (December 22, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael: New music for a timeless message (December 15, 2002)

Roger and Greg Flessing: Media, ministry and society's ungodly messages (December 8, 2002)

Rick Salvato: Meeting medical and spiritual needs around the world (November 24, 2002)

Asa Hutchinson: Drug Enforcement's top officer (November 17, 2002)

Bill Bright: 'Not I, but Christ' (November 10, 2002)

Ray Berryhill: Living by faith (October 20, 2002)

Owen C. Carr: Reading through the Bible 92 times (October 13, 2002)

Curtis Harlow: Combating campus drinking (September 29, 2002)

Wes Bartel: Making Sunday count (September 22, 2002)

M. Wayne Benson: The Holy Spirit knocks (September 15, 2002)

Dr. Richard Dobbins: Understanding Suffering (September 8, 2002)

K.R. Mele: Halloween evangelism (August 25, 2002)

Roland Blount: God makes a way for blind missionary (August 18, 2002)

Cal Thomas: Finding a mission field (August 11, 2002)

Lisa Ryan: For such a time as this (July 28, 2002)

Dallas Holm: Faith and prayer in life’s toughest times (July 21, 2002)

Paul Drost: Intentional church planting (July 14, 2002)

James M. Inhofe: Serving Christ in the Senate (June 30, 2002)

Karen Kingsbury: The Write stuff (June 23, 2002)

Michael W. Smith: Worship is how you live each day (June 16, 2002)

Wayne Stayskal: On the drawing board (June 9, 2002)

Fory VandenEinde: Anyone can minister (May 26, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask: Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2002)

Stormie Omartian: Recovering from an abusive childhood (May 12, 2002)

Luis Carrera: Beyond the Shame (April 28, 2002)

Tom Greene: The church of today (April 21, 2002)

Philip Bongiorno: Wisdom for a younger generation (April 14, 2002)

Deborah M. Gill: Christian education and discipleship (March 24, 2002)

Norma Champion: Becoming involved in politics (February 24, 2002)

Steve Pike: A candid discussion about Mormonism (February 10, 2002)

Raymond Berry: More to life than football (January 27, 2002)

Sanctity of Human Life roundtable: Doctors speak out (January 20, 2002)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: Ministering in the military (January 13, 2002)


2001 Conversations

Christian education and discipleship

(March 24, 2002)

The Assemblies of God Executive Presbytery unanimously selected Deborah M. Gill as the national director of the Division of Christian Education and commissioner for the Commission on Discipleship. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, Gill has served as senior pastor of Living Hope (A/G) in North Oaks, Minn., for the past four years. She has taught as a professor for 20 years in New Testament, Greek, homiletics and music. She previously served in missions, teaching at Asia Pacific Theological Seminary. Gill spoke recently with Scott Harrup, associate editor.

EVANGEL: Your office encourages churches to pursue excellence in Christian education and discipleship. What is the connection?

GILL: Christian education deals with acquisition of information; discipleship deals with character transformation. Sunday school is in about 94 percent of A/G churches. Many have excellent programs, but it’s imperative that we breathe new life and energy into it wherever possible and encourage fresh delivery systems that meet today’s discipleship needs. Building on the content of the classroom, discipleship applies those lessons in the context of relationships, small groups, cells or one-on-one.

EVANGEL: Having served as a pastor, what lessons have you learned that will help you in your new ministry?

GILL: Our church was small, so we were unable to offer a Sunday school class for every level. We also noted that our families were so busy that kids were not consistent in attendance. So we deployed new delivery systems. Our children’s pastor, Monica Grubb, developed "24•7 Kids’ Academy," a Christian education program, focused on discipling kids to follow Jesus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She designed a spiraling curriculum that involved all ages simultaneously and packaged it in short, yet intense activity modules that combine Bible teaching with activity and friendship interaction. Our adults met weekly in cells for relational evangelism, nurture and discipleship and occasionally in seminars for teaching and training. Our society is changing, and we must look for new ways to bring people into relationship with Christ and with each other.

EVANGEL: Talk about the growing diversity within the U.S. Assemblies of God and what that means for our Fellowship.

GILL: After teaching in the Philippines, I was met by a flood of southeast Asians in my hometown, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. About 50,000 Hmong had been granted refuge in Minnesota following the Vietnam war. My home church (Summit Assembly) reached out with literacy assistance that soon grew into a whole ministry (which we called New Americans) to the Hmong, Cambodian and Lao people. We need to be aware of our growing diversity and look for ways to minister to all people. Just as important, we must find ways to include this diversity in our churches in positions of leadership.

EVANGEL: What role can our colleges and universities take in Christian education?

GILL: Professors at our Assemblies of God colleges and universities are a treasure trove of educational resources. Many of these instructors are involved not only with their full-time ministry on campus, but serve in their local churches as well. Older believers have a lot to learn from the young disciples in our Masters Commissions and in Chi Alpha groups on secular campuses. I would love to respond to the deep desire for meaningful mentoring relationships expressed by the 15,000 students studying in our colleges.

EVANGEL: How can the traditional Sunday school adapt to meet Christian education needs in the 21st century?

GILL: Sunday school teachers need to be effective and engaging. We need teachers who prepare, and then present great content – but they’ve also got to be good group facilitators. The best Bible studies offer students opportunities to make biblical application to their own lives. I’d also like to bring to greater visibility in the Fellowship the role of models and mentors. A movement of discipleship will never happen until we have a groundswell of dedicated disciplers determined to invest themselves intentionally in a lifelong lifestyle. I pray that the Commission on Discipleship will be a hub on the wheel, networking to respond to the needs of our Fellowship. Not only may we be known for collecting and developing resources on discipleship, but even more may each of its members model personally a lifestyle that reproduces friends and followers of Jesus Christ.

 

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