SBS & BCC Europe Gathering in Wiler, Switzerland
Strictly speaking, the subtitle should be even longer, since we had representatives of the Titus Project in Kiev and of the Field Based schools and the e-SBS, all part of the larger SBS family, with us as well. Almost every location offering a Biblical Studies course in Europe was present, with close to 35 people participating.
But whereas the subtitle is long, the title is short and to the point: I can’t think of a better word or expression to describe what we experienced than this Greek word, which means communion, fellowship, sharing, and participation all at the same time.
We had several formal inputs (socio-rhetorical criticism, New Testament theology, SBS worldwide), but we also took longer sessions for discussion and sharing. One reason to choose this format is that we could not think of an obvious expert on several crucial issues, but all of us know at least something we can contribute. So we turned this into a group effort. Subjects covered this way included:
- New ideas and forms, whether used to teach in SBS, outside of YWAM, or in DTS. Three examples. (1) The Biweekly (one Saturday every other week) SBS in Switzerland continues to attract a full class for module after module. It takes six modules to complete the New Testament; to date there are over 200 graduates. (2) The Story is an overview of the Bible which fits a DTS lecture week and is a lot of fun, too. It is not just a series of lectures, it is an experience. (3) The Missing Link is a three-week highly interactive programme developed by the SBS in Hurlach, Germany, introducing participants to the entire Old Testament.
- A sharing and praying time for the future of our ministries quickly turned to our relationship–or, at times, lack thereof – with the DTS and our involvement – or likewise, at times, lack thereof – in this course. DTS students should get a basic introduction on how to read the Bible and feed on the word, but this is not always happening in an effective way. We realized we have to make ourselves available and therefore decided to collect our names and topics available for teaching in DTS in order to serve this foundational program in YWAM and help a new generation to discover the Bible.
- Our time of sharing on staff training produced a number of issues and topics that should at least be considered for those final weeks leading up to a new school. We realized it may help us to put some sort of guide together, not with a detailed curriculum (too rigid and static; every school and team situation is different), but with ideas and possibilities.
- We did a similar round sharing on what we do to make room for student transformation.
- We reconsidered our hub status. So far, we have had an informal and virtual kind of hub, a network rather than a place. We don’t have an obvious hub location like Montana or Taiwan, but we did feel it was time to formalize what we do have. As a next step we aim to form a Biblical Studies Circle (BSC) Team to take on the hub functions for our schools and teams in Europe.
Since we were close to Bern, one of Switzerland’s many beautiful cities, we did a city tour, visiting several sites where the Bible’s influence on Switzerland becomes tangible, such as the “French Church.” In the past Huguenots fleeing persecution in nearby France found a safe refuge here. Fittingly, we concluded this particular day with that greatest of Swiss inventions: cheese fondue. Mutual encouragement was an important aim of our consultation. We used much of the final morning for listening prayer, both for each individual and for each ministry and location. For me, this was a highlight: to bring word and Spirit together, speaking words of blessing and empowerment to each other – the climax of our Koinonia. Consultation feedback like “it felt like a warm bath,” “it was so encouraging,” and “I wish we had had more time” suggest this objective of mutual encouragement was indeed accomplished.