Lewis develops Bible studies, builds relationships in first year

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Lewis develops Bible studies, builds relationships in first year

By Jenna De Marco | Jan. 26, 2010 {1131}

For people looking for a grassroots Bible study with a relevant message, the Rev. Harold D. Lewis Sr. is delivering that and more.

The Rev. Harold Lewis shoots a segment for his “8 Essential Lessons for Living a Fruitful Life” Bible study series. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #10-1384.

Lewis is director of black congregational development for the Florida Conference, and he recently developed two, eight-week Bible studies that will include video segments and written curriculum. The studies are designed to appeal to a broad audience, he said, including church leaders, small groups and Sunday school classes.

The videos feature a brief message from Lewis on a range of Biblical topics. Don Youngs, production coordinator for the conference, produced the segments.

Previous conference videos featuring Lewis include a personal introduction to black church leaders, as well as a motivational video for students attending Bethune-Cookman and Florida Agricultural & Mechanical universities, produced by Youngs.

After seeing Lewis’ speaking gifts first-hand, Youngs asked him to consider filming a Bible study suitable for the entire conference membership. His engaging style of preaching and teaching makes Lewis a natural for connecting with people through video, Youngs said.

“He is so enthusiastic and energetic and dynamic,” Youngs said. “I’d go to hear him preach anywhere. I just think he’s really committed not only to the church, but to Jesus Christ.”

Each of the two Bible study series has a theme that connects all eight lessons. Overall, the purpose is to “remind us of who we are in Christ and offer some spiritual nuggets,” Lewis said.

The videos are about 25 to 30 minutes in length and allow for some creative interaction and question and answer time, Lewis said.

One study’s theme is everyday essentials for living in the 21st century. Topics include eight essential lessons for living a fruitful life, including living by grace, getting connected with others, building on a solid foundation, decision-making, investing in life and worship.

The other study, called “50 Days of Faith,” addresses using faith to cope with challenges and crises. Some of the topics include how to expect the best and have more faith, expanding the imagination, taking initiative and risks, getting needs met by God, following God’s directions and believing.

Lewis sprinkles his messages with short, easy-to-recall phrases that capture the idea he is sharing, he said. “Big vision means big provision” and “when you have a need, you have to plant a seed” are among his collection.

“Even in my preaching, these have become like a signature,” he said.

Lewis hopes his eight-week studies will attract interest from people who are reluctant to sign up for longer studies. After finishing them, he said, groups can “celebrate that and choose another series.”

Each study set includes video DVDs, along with a curriculum CD. Local churches can buy the sets for about $10 each, which covers the cost of production. By comparison, the cost of many video-delivered Bible studies on the national market includes several hundred dollars in licensing fees, Youngs said.

Orders for the studies may be placed through the Florida Conference’s Online Store at http://www.flumc2.org/product_find.asp beginning in late February.

Lewis tackles relationship building

The Rev. Dr. Geraldine McClellan, senior pastor at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Gainesville, describes Lewis as “a pastor who can communicate on all levels.”

Apart from the Bible study series, Lewis has been focusing on communication ever since his May 2009 arrival in the Florida Conference. A top priority for the first year in his position is building relationships, he said.

Lewis talks with the Rev. Dr. Geraldine McClellan (center) and other participants about the importance of churches developing a vision all members can learn and embrace during a workshop titled “Do You See What I See?” File photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #09-1200. Originally accompanied e-Review Florida UMNS #1030, 06/11/09.

He started by traveling to districts and meeting with groups of local church pastors. McClellan attended one such gathering in the North Central District. She said Lewis’ prior experience serving small churches and facilitating transformation reminds pastors “there are no small churches.” Lewis offered encouragement and a sense of hope and revival, she said.

In his role with black church congregational development, Lewis partners as a coach for pastors and church leaders in any aspect of their ministries. Specifically, Lewis is “well equipped” to help African-American congregations in the conference understand the five practices of The Methodist Way in a motivating, practical way, McClellan said.

“The gift of fruitfulness is a part of who he is,” McClellan said. “I think he has a way of helping congregations to understand what it is to be fruitful in their ministry and how to use these five practices in that way.”

McClellan sees Lewis as a pastoral resource person who will help congregations “understand what it is that they are called to do,” she said.

That’s precisely the message Lewis hopes to send, even though he acknowledges that coaching is still a relatively new phenomenon for many pastors. The measure of whether he is successful is nothing less than forming a partnership with each and every pastor, he said.

Appreciating and understanding the black church culture helps in forming these partnerships, he added. Living in a multicultural society means affirming differences in churches, Lewis said, where “different doesn’t mean deficient.” One way to enhance awareness of the black church culture is to emphasize its distinctive contributions, he said. He encourages black congregations to share their unique stories.

“The question is: ‘How do we begin to encourage our uniqueness and embrace that and offer it to Christendom as a gift?” Lewis said.

Lewis said he experienced the vitality of the church recently while visiting Village United Methodist Church in North Lauderdale, served by the Rev. Margaret Kartwe-Bradley. The church received 19 new members that day. Lewis describes this as a good example of a congregation that has “got to tell their story,” he said.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011, tparham@flumc.org, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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