By Monty Cooper
Bridges Christian Church tapped the talents of many members for its through-the-Bible study.
I am not the type of guy who enjoys “endless hours of fun” putting together 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles. I really don’t have the patience. It is hard for me to see how all of the pieces on the table fit together.
If we are honest, this is how many people feel about the Bible. The Bible is like a large jigsaw puzzle, a bunch of stories with bits and pieces of history that just don’t seem to fit. We miss the fact that it is telling one story from Genesis to Revelation—the story of Jesus.
At Bridges Christian Church, Russell, Kentucky, we wanted to help people see the big picture of the Bible, so we launched a 27-week message series called, “Putting the Pieces Together.” The series was motivated by the book The Heart of The Story by Randy Frazee. We desired to help our church family have a better understanding that the Bible is more than just a bunch of fragmented stories, and that what happened in the Old Testament played a key role in the New Testament. The Old Testament was pointing to Jesus.
We approached this challenge three ways. First, we covered the entire Bible in 27 weeks. Some weeks we talked about specific books, while other weeks we covered several books that focused on the same theme. Through the series, not only did we want to help our people see how the pieces fit, but also to understand the chronological order of events. Each weekly message ended by showing how that piece of the puzzle was pointing to Christ. The series ended on Christmas Sunday, not with the typical Christmas message, but with one that looked at the second coming.
Second, we wanted to do something to reinforce each week’s message, and again stress that all the pieces do fit together. Jamie Coates, director of worship and arts at Bridges, and her creative team decided to recruit various artists in our church to help. Each artist took a large puzzle piece we provided and painted a picture relating to one week’s theme. Eleven different artists representing all age groups painted 27 different scenes from the Bible. The painting was displayed on the stage each week, and after the message, the pieces were displayed around the worship center hallways. On Christmas Sunday, the puzzle pieces were put together to make a 12-by-12-foot collage.
Third, we wanted to give something to our folks to take home each week to reinforce the messages, so we created our own devotional booklets that went along with the series. More than 20 people from the Bridges family wrote a devotional to provide daily Scripture reading that went along with the week’s message. In the booklet, we provided space for people to record their thoughts about what God was showing them through his Word. By having people share their various gifts in public worship, we helped everyone realize we all have a piece in the puzzle.
I believe using the verbal, the visual, and the written word helped do away with some of the fears people had about studying the Bible. They came away with a better understanding of what the big picture looks like, and maybe, like me, they realized that putting a puzzle together is not so bad after all.
Monty Cooper serves as teaching pastor with Bridges Christian Church in Russell, Kentucky.