A Lenten Study by Bishop Dick Wilke
For our first post in our “Interviews with Influencers” series, From the Branches had a chance to catch up with Bishop Dick Wilke regarding his new Lenten study, published through Abingdon Press, and featured this year as an online course for Be A Disciple. Bishop Richard B. Wilke created excitement in local churches with his books And Are We Yet Alive? and Signs and Wonders. With his wife, Julia, Bishop Wilke coordinated, designed, and wrote the DISCIPLE Bible study, a training for Christian leaders, with nearly two million graduates in more than 10,000 congregations in 30 denominations.
From the Branches:
How did you decide to write a new Lenten study? What makes this study unique?
Several years ago I wrote an Advent study for for Abingdon, and it was well received by the general church, so a year ago they contacted me and asked me to write the Lenten study for 2014.
So they asked me to write the Lenten study this year, which I was happy to do. I thought about it, and I thought: Lent is really the preparation for Good Friday and Easter (the seven weeks before Easter) so I thought about what Jesus did in the last weeks of his life before Holy Week. And I realized that it all really began when Jesus went on the mountain and prayed almost all night. The disciples kind of half-way went to sleep and Jesus made the decision to go to Jerusalem. It was a beginning point of a decision, and then of course there were the events that followed. And so I build into those seven weeks the events of deciding. And that’s a big one: when you make a decision that affects your whole life – a prayerful decision – a big decision. Then on the way, he did his healings and teachings. Then he made an entrance into Jerusalem; then I have him in the Upper Room for the Last Supper; then in the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; then in prison; then on the cross. [Because it is helpful for us to walk as Jesus walked through Lent], it all made sense to do the final weeks of Jesus’ ministry.
From the Branches:
That’s great! And do you think that there is any particular benefit to this study being online?
Well, a lot of it is not so much group oriented as personal. For example, the first question is “Have you ever prayed hard, hard, hard over a life-determining decision?” You don’t have to be in a group to think about that. To contemplate Jesus’ healings and teachings, his going on the first day of Passover into Jerusalem, even the Upper Room, [or] the conversation with Peter: “Wash my feet.” It’s kind of personal: Are you willing to let Jesus wash your feet? Then the prayer in the Garden is a very personal prayer: “Father if it’s possible let this cup pass.” And the others are asleep in the Garden: so you don’t need a group! And the words on the cross, also, are very personal. So it can be a very personal, intimate, thoughtful conversation. The online format creates this contemplative space.
From the Branches:
Well thank you very much for your insights about the study! I know we are anticipating this journey that will be both very personal, while being shared in online community. That’s the beauty of hosting the study with Be A Disciple. Thank you for helping us to walk where Jesus walked this Lent.
If you are interested in learning more or registering for “He Set His Face to Jerusalem,” visit the course description here. The course is written by Bishop Wilke and facilitated by Leah Rankin Hartman. If you’d like to order the book, click here.
Bishop Richard Wilke is currently serving as Bishop-in-Residence at Southwestern College. With his wife, Julia, Bishop Wilke coordinated, designed, and wrote the DISCIPLE Bible study, a training for Christian leaders, with nearly two million graduates in more than 10,000 congregations in 30 denominations. The DISCIPLE series is now available in German, Korean, Spanish, and Chinese. The Institute for Discipleship was formed as an extension of their life-long ministry and service to the Church. The Wilkes now reside in Winfield, KS, and they have four children and nine grandchildren.