Brantford- based Precept Ministries seeks to expand
A former Brantford pastor has been named the national director of Precept Ministries – an international group with its Canadian headquarters in Brantford.
Mark Sheldrake, 37, who succeeds Tom and Jane Hart, is gearing up to lead a major overhaul of how the ministry is run.
“We’re going to continue to expand the ministry that Tom and Jane started but we’re working toward having thousands of equal partners across the country helping us.”
Precept Ministries is a 41- yearold non- denominational organization that focuses on sharing Bible study resources and training people in a specific method of study.
Currently, there are seven staff members working out of the newly renovated bookstore and office on Holiday Drive, across from the Best Western Brant Park Inn.
“The Harts are staying on staff,” said Sheldrake during a Friday open house at the store.
“Tom is going to be director of ministry advancement, working with people who donate to the ministry, and Jane is going to keep training people and working with new trainers.”
Precept Ministries offers hundreds of hours of study material that ranges from the most basic of overviews to college- level, indepth studies that need an hour a day of homework.
“Some of our studies are six weeks long, others are 13 and some run longer. We recognize that people might not have an hour to commit. They might only have ten or 15 minutes.”
Founded by speaker and author Kay Arthur and her husband, Jack, Precept features Arthur’s work extensively in the bookstore.
The books come in a variety of languages: Precept is now in more than 150 countries and published in 70 different languages.
The studies, which are topical or verse- by- verse examinations of a particular Bible book, use the inductive method, Sheldrake says.
“Inductive studies mean you use the Bible as your primary source of study,” said Sheldrake.
“We teach people to look at the Bible in context, asking the basic questions of who, what, when, where and why.
“We’re definitely a nondenominational ministry. We believe the Bible is its own best commentary before we go to any outside source.”
Sheldrake said it’s rewarding to watch people get excited about studying God’s word through the inductive process, either on their own or in small groups.
“On Sunday, you go to church and the pastor preaches and you may not retain as much information as studying this way – it’s not relying on someone else to tell you stuff.”
The new bookstore – remodelled from a cramped, unattractive small room – is now an open, brightly lit area with flooring installed by volunteers and a warm conversation area with fireplace. Rack upon rack of study books fill the walls.
Sheldrake said there’s at least 25 years worth of studies to be done.
“We are the greatest resource for churches and nobody knows we’re here! People drive by thinking we’re a church.”
Sheldrake was the minister at Emmanuel Baptist Church for several years before joining Precept Ministries.
His wife of 14 years, Jessica, also works at the office, handling the books and acting as office manager.
Sheldrake said he hopes people will drop in to visit and browse the publications in the bookstore where materials that are purchased help fund the ministry to train others.
“There are a lot of people who say, ‘ I don’t have time to study the Bible.’ But if you’re part of God’s family, this is your lifeline and you should take the time to learn about it.
“The Bible is the tool of change.”