“As I see it, when Jesus says ‘Follow Me’ you either do or you don’t. If you don’t, you are a fool. If you do, well, then you become part of two worlds: the world at hand and the one on the way.” — a quote from the apostle Peter as written by Christian author Calvin Miller.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Calvin Miller has a unique gift.
The Christian author and seminary professor is a master storyteller. His creative, descriptive and often humorous style of communication has captivated thousands of readers and audiences alike around the country.
In his latest project for the Baptist Sunday School Board, Miller combines biblical scholarship with his imagination to communicate something very real — how to follow the example Christ set for his believers.
In Follow Christ’s Example, a new Sunday school leadership series produced by the BSSB’s Bible teaching-reaching division, Miller brings to life five episodes from Christ’s life and ministry as the apostle Peter might have experienced them. His writings are paired with practical applications from other widely known writers to form resources for each age group — adult, youth, children and preschool. Among the materials’ emphasized themes are self-sacrifice, prayer, loving one another, unity and witnessing.
Miller, professor of communication and ministry studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, admitted writing dialog for one of the 12 disciples was a little humbling at times.
“I sure thought through it a lot more,” he remembered. “I found myself reading the Bible passages, trying to make sure that in describing Peter’s viewpoint I didn’t violate what we know to be true from the gospels. It is imaginative more than actual, but I didn’t want to write anything that would be antithetical to the life of Peter.”
While writing the materials, Miller said much of the content “struck me as something I needed to work on in my own spiritual life.
“I don’t like myself very much when I get so busy writing and teaching and speaking that I forget to live out my faith. I want what I am writing or studying to interact with my life, to encourage me to take another step of faith, to go a little deeper with the Lord.”
Miller said a focus on self-sacrifice might be a good thing for Christians in today’s self-obsessed society.
“It seems to me that many Christians are pretty double-minded. We keep our faith in one box and our ‘secular’ life in another box. It’s really a ‘compartmentalized Christianity.’ We don’t let our beliefs interact with our everyday lives.”
For himself, Miller said physical and mental fatigue are often his worst enemies in maintaining and developing his spiritual life.
“Let’s face it; life is a grind sometimes,” he explained. “It’s a feeling that you are absolutely worn out. And when I get tired, I’m less likely to think about lost people. I’m less likely to notice people who need my help. And I’m certainly less likely to get on my knees and really pray. I’m more likely to kick back and turn on the television.”
Doug Merritt, manager of the BT-R’s ministry design and resource section, said the goal of the Follow Christ’s Example materials is to help Bible study leaders and teachers “reconnect with the reason why we do what we do. And there is no better way to do that than by examining the example Christ set for us. He is the model for everything we do.”
Even before the materials were released last month, Merritt said the content of the resources was inspiring “revival-like” responses in training sessions led by BSSB consultants.
At a conference in South Carolina, adult consultant David Apple said the message of the new materials, reinforced by an accompanying video with dramatic vignettes, “really seemed to draw people into a personal encounter with Christ. It’s as if we were there, listening to Peter talk about what happened. It led to a lot of self-examination. It brought us back to why we made our commitment to Christ in the first place and what we’re doing with it today.”
Miller said he hopes the Follow Christ Example materials will challenge believers to get serious about their walk with God and make him their number one life priority.
“If this study can motivate people to follow Christ and then continue to grow in their faith and reach out to others, it will be a success. … We are here to care about and share our faith with others. That has got to be the unifying theme that ties Christians together.”
The Follow Christ’s Example Sunday school leadership resources are available for general officers and adult, youth, children’s and preschool leaders and class members. A Leader Pack featuring a video with professional actors performing dramatic vignettes also is available.
For more information, or to place an order, call 1-800-458-2772.
The resources also are available at Baptist Book Stores and Lifeway Christian Stores. In addition, anyone attending Sunday School Leadership Conferences this summer at Glorieta (N.M.), Ridgecrest (N.C.), or Green Lake (Wis.) will receive a free copy of their particular age group resource from the series.