Rev. Rob Fuquay, author of The God We Can Know, is senior pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, one of the largest churches in the denomination. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he has worked in churches since his freshman year in college. After seminary Rob served a church in Bristol, England, for one year and then pastored several churches, both large and small, in North Carolina.
Rob says, “As I study Jesus, I see someone who sought to show grace to all people. I want to be a part of a church that models that [understanding of grace] … a church that cares about reaching beyond its own community and impacting the world with hope.” As part of his work on The God We Can Know, a 7-week churchwide study of the “I Am” sayings of Jesus, Rob traveled to the Holy Land and was filmed in the places where Jesus made several of his “I Am” declarations.
Rob holds a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology (Emory University) and a BA in Religion from Pfeiffer University. He and his wife, Susan, have three daughters – Julie, Sarah, and Anna. Rob loves the outdoors, particularly hiking and mountain climbing.
A Conversation with Rob Fuquay
Tell us about your new resource, The God We Can Know.
The God We Can Know is a worship and study experience for congregations. It’s based on the “I Am” sayings of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Statements like “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world,” and “I am the true vine” connect us with Jesus’ mission. The program includes a book; a DVD featuring 7 study sessions along with group guides for adults, youth, and children; plus a website for congregational leaders (TheGodWeCanKnow.com). We hope churches consider it for Lent because it starts with God’s “I Am” introduction to Moses and will conclude on Easter Sunday with Jesus’ “I am the resurrection and the life.”
What can we learn from Jesus’ “I Am” statements?
These sayings connect us with the great stories in the Old Testament and help us appreciate the time and culture in which Jesus lived. When we understand the context and meaning of each of “I Am,” we realize what the sayings offer for our lives and how a relationship with Jesus continues to be an answer for our needs. In Jesus, we experience the God who meets us at the point of our greatest need. Something about our own relationship with God and our own purpose for life is revealed by these sayings. They become important not just for learning who God is, but who we are.
You traveled to the Holy Land and met a production crew to film the study sessions for small groups. Why was it important to film in the Holy Land?
We filmed the DVD study that accompanies the book in the Holy Land because being in the place where Jesus spoke these words makes them come alive in a new way. We see the land and understand better the context of each saying. It’s exciting to be where Jesus stood, and to invite viewers to imagine what it is like to be in that place. Over the course of the study, we take viewers on a Holy Land pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Capernaum, the Judean wilderness, and Lazarus’s tomb – just to name a few sites.
What did you learn anew about scripture while you were in Israel?
Being in Israel naturally builds an understanding behind the stories of scripture. It makes scripture more relevant and real. That’s what excites me about this resource. You stand in the places where Jesus spoke these words, but you also became aware that the needs of people are not dated. They’re not something that is lost in antiquity. We experience the same needs today.
The people who came to Jesus were hungry. They were looking for guidance. They were afraid about what his departure would mean for their lives. And we still need security, look for satisfaction, and yearn for happiness. Today we can experience the way Jesus provides that as much now as people did then.
For example, when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” he was in Capernaum, where a day before he had performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. In less than 24 hours, people come seeking him for another miracle because the physical bread and fish didn’t last. They are looking for someone who can satisfy them. Jesus invites them into a deeper level of satisfaction, of fulfillment that doesn’t go away. So, to be in Capernaum and to imagine that place in life where we easily grow tired of the blessings we think we need for true happiness was meaningful.
Looking for a resource that can pull the entire congregation together during the Lenten season? Explore this 7-week study on the “I Am” sayings of Jesus, and find answers to Jesus’ most essential question: “Who do you say I am?”
For children’s, youth, and eLearning resources, visit TheGodWeCanKnow.com
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