How I Have Benefited from Erie Bible InstituteOctober 30, 2009
by Jen, age 35 – now a part of the Erie Church of Christ in Erie, Pennsylvania
I had never heard of the churches of Christ. I was not a Christian when I came to Erie Bible Institute (EBI), but I was seeking God. I prayed for direction, not knowing where to go, and went to the Yellow Pages, (I had to start somewhere!) and found a lot of division and confusion. Have you ever read the headings there? I didn’t understand most of the classifications…Apostolic (?)…Baptist–the "just Baptist groups" , Independent, Southern (in Erie, PA?)…Evangelical (and no one else is?)…Full Gospel…Gospel (apparently the just "Gospel" group were missing something)…etc. I believe under "Non-denominational" I found an ad for Erie Bible Institute and the church of Christ.
I didn’t trust the doctrine of men, but I did want to study the Word of God. The first week I attended a worship service at the church of Christ, "just happened" to be the first week of the EBI semester. It was through study at EBI, and the love of the people I met there and the support of the church (not to mention the work of the Holy Spirit who made it possible) that I became a baptized believer and disciple of Jesus Christ. So, yeah, I guess you could say I think it’s beneficial.
What I love about EBI:
• Undemanding learning – Although we attend class in a building belonging to a church, as a non-believer I wasn’t worried that I’d be asked to place membership or take on a responsibility or role I didn’t want or for which I wasn’t ready. I was there solely to study the Word of God. The classroom is a known and comfortable environment for many people in the world—unlike participating in worship services with an unfamiliar religious group.
• Focused studying on the Word of God – We have an agenda and we stick with it.
• Gentle accountability – If you have a tendency to procrastinate (like me) or are simply busy and scattered, it helps to keep studying the Word of God a priority. (And no one wants to disappoint our Ms. Judy by not having our homework done!
• Advanced level classes – With flexibility as to the investment of your time and money. Audit the class (scripture reading, attending class & a completion of a workbook) or take it for credit toward a certificate (add a few research papers, more texts to read, exams, etc.)
• Professors – Classes are taught by experienced teachers who are also bible scholars, missionaries, preachers, bible archeologists, historians, etc. The additional knowledge they bring to the video lectures, such as history and geography (i.e. Richard Rogers) or bible archeology (i.e. Ted Stewart) helps me to understand the culture and context of the scriptures we study.
• Location, location, location – Within a 30 minute drive from work/home for me. (You mean, I don’t have to move out of state for this…!)
• Fringe benefits – Great fellowship in small groups that even an introvert like me can relax and enjoy.
We at the Erie church of Christ are blessed with a number of wonderful, devoted and educated bible teachers. But the usual bible class environment does not allow for as much time or depth or breadth of study, along with the above benefits, as does EBI.
I had "attended church" since I was a child; but have never learned so much about the scriptures as I have the last few years in EBI. And thanks to God, I have become part of the Lord’s church. It’s not just a matter of semantics. I have an eternal family now.