This fall, campus ministries begins its 10-week, campus-wide bible study. Instead of going through an entire section of scripture, the study looks at a number of stories about significant figures in the Old Testament. Each week, the study will take a closer look at a new bible character. We sat down with Calvin College chaplain Mary Hulst to dig a little deeper into the content of the study and find out how students, faculty and staff can get involved.
Why did you choose this topic?
The Old Testament is foundational to our faith. Jesus fulfills promises in the New Testament that connect back to all of these people. The more we understand about scripture as a whole, the more we understand Jesus. We learned that a lot of our students don’t have a great knowledge of the Old Testament and would really benefit by that, especially before heading to their religion classes. We consulted with our religion professors and asked: if there were 10 bible characters you would want students to know about before taking your class, who would those be? They came back with a great list and we added some of our own. If the bible study introduces 10 new characters and LOFT covers another 10, altogether we will have covered 20 significant biblical figures by the end of the semester.
Why are you excited about this study?
I love these stories, and I learn something new every time I preach a passage. So, I’m really excited to learn along with the students. There’s always a way God shows up in a sermon specifically for that time and place. I get excited thinking about what he’s going to do when we gather around his word and learn about how he engaged with his people. Because, when we learn how God engaged with them, we can learn to look for him in our own lives.
How can students get involved?
Any student can start a bible study, lead one or co-lead one. All of the materials will be available online, so you can do it with your housemates, with your athletic team, with your string quartet- really any group. If you’re in the dorms, the floor Barnabas student will reach out to you, but even if the time of the study on your dorm floor doesn’t work for you, you can still get involved. You can always go to another floor’s study or you can sign up online. We try to keep track of all the times and locations of the bible studies going on around campus so other people can join in. There is no homework. If you’re a participant, there’s no homework, you just show up. Since this is a bible study that doesn’t build from one week to the next, even if you miss a week, you’re not behind because we are starting a whole different character the next week. Anyone can join at any point.
What can students do if they want to dig deeper?
We are kicking around the idea of doing a discussion group on Sunday nights after LOFT. We are hoping to give that a shot this semester and see what happens. A lot of these stories, especially about someone like Moses, can’t be covered in just one week. There will be things I have to focus on, but in the discussions we can take the lesson further and zoom out a little bit. The bookstore also partners with us. They will often have a display of resources about the topic, like Old Testament commentaries and reviews. They’re a terrific place if you want to learn more. Also, any one of the chaplains is always happy to meet with students to talk more.
Why would you encourage someone to join one of the many bible studies around campus?
Getting involved in a bible study has a number of different benefits. For students, particularly those who live in the dorms, it’s a great way to meet people on the floor and spend time together. For those of us that are in faculty or staff bible studies, it’s the same. We engage with people we might never talk to because they’re in a different department or across campus. In addition to the relational-community aspect, there’s the knowledge aspect of the study: learning more about scripture which is always great. There’s also what I would call an inspirational and implicational piece. God speaks to you through the study and applies his word to your life. We love that bible study isn’t simply about learning, it’s about growing deeper in our relationship with God and listening to what he is telling us through scripture.