Jason and Amber Dansby, center, Tiffany and Reagan Tennant, Ron Davis, and Greg and Erica Armstrong are members of a couple’s group meeting on Sundays at First Baptist Church of Muskogee.

Amber Dansby said she and her husband, Jason, were so impressed with the first class they attended at First Baptist Church that they altered their plans to visit other churches.

The class at First Baptist Church of Muskogee is a Bible study for people in their 20s. It has been successful beyond expectations.

“When we moved to Muskogee, we had been intending to try several churches and make sure we found the one that was right for us,” she said. “The first church we tried was First Baptist Church, and we fell in love with the class, so we never went anywhere else.”

After the Dansbys had been attending almost six years, the Bible study class grew so fast that it was divided into two groups. The purpose was to maintain the small-group feeling, Dansby said.

“Some don’t have family here, and we have a close-knit family feel in our class,” she said. “Whenever someone has a baby, we provide them with a week to two weeks of meals. People want to take care of you. We also like to have fun. We try to do something monthly, like flag football.”

The Dansbys go to an earlier church service first, then the class.

“Lance (Sawyer, minister) will give us his sermon, and a lot of times when we go to the class, even though the teacher has a lesson, we’ll talk about something from the sermon,” she said. “It kind of helps to get another perspective on it.”

Clint Hayes, minister of education at First Baptist Church, said their successful Bible study class for people in their 20s began in April 2006. It was one of two classes for different age groups.

“The one for people in their 20s was mostly young married couples, and that class just took off,” he said. “Attendance was between 38 and 45. On Jan. 13 we started a new class out of that one.”

Hayes said one reason the class has been so successful is the approach of its first teacher; Arthur Hulbert.

“One thing he would do is ask, ‘What issues are you guys facing?’” Hayes said. “So that’s one of the things we’re doing now; tailor the class to address issues they’re facing.”

Another part of the formula is the way people in the class have opened up to each other.

“They have focused a lot on building relationships,” Hayes said. “People are inviting their friends and enjoying a lot of fellowship with each other. They are bonding. If one of the women is pregnant, someone in the class may make them dinner every night. They support each other in good times and bad times, and meet each other’s needs.”

Hayes said classes like the 20s group is a vital part of the strength and growth at First Baptist Church.

“We really believe strongly that Bible study classes are really the nuts and bolts of the church,” he said. “You can come in to one of our services and listen to the sermon, but you may walk out the back door and never talk to someone and get to know them. The key to getting involved is a small group. You don’t get lost in the crowd.”

Reach Keith Purtell at 684-2925 or kpurtell@muskogeephoenix. com.

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