Archive for Theology

Arthur Flake’s (biblical?) Formula

Let me say from the outset, I am a believer in both the practicality and the functionality of Flake’s Formula.  Over the years, I have seen it work…when it was worked.  One thing that has stood out to me about Flake’s Formula is the fact that in Building a Standard Sunday School and The True Functions of the Sunday School, from which the “formula” was extracted, there is not a lot of biblical basis given for the principles and that concerned me.  To add to that concern, I have heard, as some look at the principles, make the observation, “These are just solid business principles.”  And to that I would agree but then the question arises, “Where do solid business principles come from?”  The answer to that, of course, is God’s Word.  A quick read of the Proverbs alone will outline a basic business plan for anyone who desires to do business God’s way.

Recently I shared Flake’s Formula with our Sunday School leaders in multiple teaching settings. They, in turn, taught the same lessons to their classes over several weeks on Sunday mornings.  I wanted to know if truly these principles, in their entirety, were in the Bible.  In preparation for these lessons, and to my delight (and no real surprise), they were all there.  Let me list some of the scripture passages I found from which I believe Arthur Flake very well could have based his “formula.”

  • Know the Possibilities (Nehemiah 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Mark 6:32-38; Luke 14:28-31)
  • Enlarge the Organization (Genesis 1:27-28; Exodus 18:13-27; Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 6:12-13; Acts 6:1-7)
  • Enlist and Train the Workers (Matthew 4:18-22; Matthew 9:37-38; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 2:2, 15)
  • Provide Space and Equipment (Joshua 13-22; 2 Kings 4:1-7)
  • Go After the People (Matthew 28:18-20; John 4:3-7, 34-35)

The passages of Scripture listed here are by no means exhaustive of what is actually in the Bible and there were other passages I used in the teaching context as well.  The point being very simple, while Arthur Flake may not have had bullet points with sub points listing Scripture, his principles are rooted in God’s Word.

I am sure that any student of the Bible could do a far more thorough job than I in discovering many other verses that could have impacted Mr. Flake over his lifetime.  But the bottom line being that Flake’s Formula is not only practical and functional but it is Scriptural as well.

Helpful How To Resource For Bible Reading

I would like to introduce a resource to you which I think will be helpful for Sunday School teachers and leaders to read. It is Read The Bible For Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word by George Guthrie. B & H Publishers, Union University and LifeWay Christian Resources have partnered together to publish this book and several accompanying resources to support what is being called the Read the Bible for Life campaign. The goal of the campaign is to promote Biblical literacy among the members of your church as well as those who attend.

The leaders of the campaign have found through research that only 16% of churchgoers read the Bible every day. Only 32% read the Bible at least once a week. Only 37% say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives.

Personally, I remember the first year of my Christian life as a teenage boy when I read the entire Bible through in 365 days. I had been to youth camp and had been challenged to do this for the next year. I found a Bible with a Bible reading plan in the front pages and I began reading and marking off my progress. The next year, at the youth camp, I went out during personal devotions time and sat under a big oak tree and finished reading the last few chapters of Malachi and Revelation. I experienced a great sense of joy and accomplishment, not to mention a good framework of Bible history and content in those early years of my discipleship path.

So I would encourage you who are pastors and Sunday School leaders to make this opportunity available to your congregations in 2012.

The first thing you could do would be to read through George Guthrie’s book Read The Bible For Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word. Another thing you could do would be to structure a campaign for your church to read the Bible through in 2012.

LifeWay Christian Resources is also publishing some accompanying resources that would help with such a campaign. Those resources consist of a small group video study that surveys the Old and New Testaments in chronological order. Several discipleship groups or small Bible study groups could offer this curriculum in the coming year. There is a new B & H Bible being published called Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible. Or if you prefer using your own Bible, there is a resource being published called A Reader’s Guide To the Bible that leads readers to read the Scriptures chronologically and gives tips for application.

I would encourage you to lead your congregation to jump in on this and encourage people to read the Scriptures through in 2012. I think you will find it will deepen the discipleship path of the people and help them understand the God whom they serve and follow.

Let’s read God’s Word through in 2012 and make it a habit. Approximately 3 chapters a day (2 Old Testament and 1 New Testament) will take you through the Bible in a year.

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Richard Nations is the Church Health Strategist for the Baptist Convention of Iowa. E-mail: