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Austin Westlake - Utilize BEP!

Doug Clay

Chairman, Assemblies of God Trust

General Superintendent, Assemblies of God

Created from concern about a lack of biblical literacy, the Bible Engagement Project (BEP) was first launched in 2020. Saying it has numerous benefits, Assemblies of God National Director of Student Discipleship Austin Westlake believes that every church should incorporate the program into their church’s discipleship format.


“I would encourage leaders to find a way to somehow implement it somewhere along the line in their youth ministry,” he said. “How they use it can be as creative as the youth ministry itself. How a church uses BEP can be as different as the church itself. It doesn’t have to look like the church down the street, but I do think every church can benefit from it.”


As a youth pastor at Sheffield Family Worship Center in Kansas City, Missouri, for over five years before becoming the district youth director of the Southern Missouri Ministry Network for four years, Westlake said he would have greatly benefitted from a tool such as BEP.


“Now, I’m looking back and wishing it had existed when I was a local church youth pastor because it would have helped me create better content for our small groups and for our discipleship mechanisms that we had in place,” he said.


Because youth leaders are often bi-vocational and even tri-vocational, finding time to create their own curriculum and content can be challenging. With the Listen, Learn and Live curriculum BEP offers in both English and Spanish, Westlake sees it as a valuable asset.


“One benefit of the program is that because it is full of content that our theology department has vetted, the youth leader or youth pastor of a church doesn’t have to write their own from scratch,” he noted. “It’s already created, so it gives them great content for their small groups or weekly gatherings.”


BEP enables each department of the church to learn the same concepts on age-appropriate levels.


“The unique thing about BEP is that it is age and stage aligned with the rest of your church,” Westlake explained. “So, it helps youth leader get their youth group on the same page as the rest of the church because you can do the same content and the same topics all the way from elementary age students through adults. You can have your preschool, your kids, and your students in grades 6-12 all learning the same things the adults are learning.”


Westlake continued saying, “It’s implementing skills in sequence, so it’s not just what you’re teaching your children and students but when you’re teaching them that is important.”


Empowering people who might not otherwise feel equipped to lead a small group or discipleship incentive, the BEP platform expands the leadership base of the local church.


“It helps you empower other parents and leaders who are in your church who are leading students, and then they can teach the information in small groups and lead people in discipleship training moments,” Westlake said. “You can get your whole church aligned and learning the same content together and empower leaders who may not have a Bible degree to open up their home and give them the content right there in their hand through the app.”


Not only is the program available from the Apple Store and Google Play, but from a desktop too.


To date, there are three full years of BEP training available, with the fourth year underway. And although each year builds on the content presented before, a student can start the curriculum at any time.


“Each year builds on the previous year, however, the content is basic enough that you don’t have to go through year one to understand year two. You can jump in whenever,” Westlake said. “Youth groups see significant turnover, so by the time a youth leader completes these three years of training, there will be many new students in the youth group and many of the others will have graduated and moved on.”


Westlake aided in the development of the 12-week study released last year covering the 16 fundamental truths of the Assemblies of God.


“I was deeply involved in that process,” he said.“(The study) was already underway when I took the role of Director of Student Discipleship in 2022, and I got to see it come to completion with Rod Whitlock who previously sat in the seat I’m now sitting in.”


BEP is intentionally designed to fit any church’s budget and congregation size.


“It began as a subscription-based model, but as of General Council 2023, it became a pay it forward model,” Westlake said. “We would love to see churches sow generously into this. The hope and prayer are that churches will take advantage of it and leaders will use it. It’s not just for the small church but the large church and everything in between.”


“Many would say it’s the best resources we’ve ever released,” Westlake concluded.

AG Trust