Employee Bible Studies: Learning Over Lunch
By Jennifer Willis
“Bring your lunch, bring your Bibles and bring an open heart to the Lord, and let the Spirit work.”
That’s the motto of the Bible study at Peoria II every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. According to Dennis Cox, a military enrollment counselor and retired Air Force officer who leads the weekly group, the members are Christians who enjoy fellowship and discussing God’s Word.
It might not seem like a big deal. But in a world wrought with turmoil and a country where separation of church and state is an issue, it’s unusual for a group to come together to pray and talk about spiritual matters in an office setting.
In fact, it’s almost unheard of. Yet that’s part of what separates GCU’s employees and students from the rest.
“It’s great that our company allows this,” Cox says.
Online Pastor Ryan Maguire agrees.
“As part of a Christian university, gathering together to talk with God and study the Bible is our privilege,” Maguire says. “These study and prayer groups exist to encourage and refresh the employees of GCU. Gathering around God’s Word reminds and motivates us to carry out His purpose, as we provide guidance for students who are finding their purpose.”
Cox got the idea for a Bible study from attending a men’s group at his church. He envisioned something similar for GCU employees, and he met with Campus Pastor Tim Griffin and Maguire to discuss it.
Cox wanted opportunities for online staff that resembled those available to employees on the main campus.
“We always read about Chapel and things going on at (the main) campus,” he says. “I just felt that we needed to have a little worship time ourselves.”
Cox partnered with colleague Marie Viau, and the two of them made it happen.
“Marie is awesome,” Cox says. “She put together fliers and got them approved by HR to post in the buildings. She sent out a mass email to inform employees of the group. She sends out weekly reminders and puts together weekly study guides. She’s always prepared.”
Since the start of the Peoria II study last December, groups have launched at the Peoria I and Camelwest offices. Although Cox doesn’t lead those groups, he has answered questions from them. He says he’d like to see a monthly worship service with music and a message for Peoria I and II.
The Peoria II group is currently focusing on the Book of Acts and “Seeing the Spirit Work.” An opening prayer is said, followed by some discussion regarding the theme of the week’s readings. Participants are given a fresh set of verses and study-guide questions by Viau each week and are asked to read and answer them ahead of time. Discussion takes place in a round-table format, and it’s over in an hour.
Attendance varies from week to week, depending on schedules and workload. It’s a relaxed atmosphere for learning and growing in faith, designed to help members apply the teachings of Scripture to their own lives.
Cox says he has had only positive feedback.
“Being able to do this has helped people gain more understanding of the Bible, a way to apply it, and also to fellowship with one another,” he says. “Honestly, it’s become a part of my life now. I couldn’t imagine not doing it.”
The Peoria II study meets in the third-floor conference room. The Peoria I study meets from noon to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays in the AZ Central Conference Room. The Camelwest study meets from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Fridays in the Purpose meeting room.
Cox says a second study at Peoria II is launching. Those interested should go to the third-floor conference room at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
For more information on the Bible studies, call Cox at 639.9440 or email him at [email protected].
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or [email protected].