Let’s Remember Monty & Doris!

Monty & Doris 1999

After graduation, Monty served in the Ubangi district of the Congo along with his wife, Doris, then a nursing missionary from Oxford, England. That was the start of a 35-year missionary commitment to Africa! After ‘retiring’ back in the USA, Monty refired,  launching Village Schools of the Bible to continue the vision that had gripped him all his life: encouraging lay people to study the Bible seriously and live it out. Monty set rigorous standards from the start – standards that continue to be a hallmark of the ministry.

As Village Schools of the Bible pursues the mission of teaching God’s Word and transforming lives, it continues Monty’s original vision of helping lay people study the entire Bible so they can know God more deeply, grow in Christ, and live missionally – in Monty’s words, to Know, Grow and Go.

A Monty and Doris Sholund Memorial Fund has now been established in honor of this extraordinary couple to marshal funds for teaching and classroom expenses, including scholarships for financially challenged students.  If you have been blessed by the Village Schools ministry in the past and would like to bless future students in honor of Monty and Doris, would you consider a gift in their memory to strengthen their legacy?

Click here to contribute to the Monty and Doris Memorial Fund.

Cover-to-Cover Refresh

How about a refresh? Monty’s original Bible survey concept is available online. Take it from the comfort and convenience of your home. In keeping with Monty’s no-nonsense rigor, Col. Richard Gary Moore, paratrooper and chaplain retired from the US Army, will be your online mentor: you will find in him a challenging but loving shepherd with your spiritual welfare at heart. Bite the bullet. Dare to take Cover-to-Cover Online!

Tell friends and your pastor about Cover-to-Cover

Tell others. Monty’s vision was extraordinary, and Cover-to-Cover is exceptional. Some of your friends may want to step up and take the Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey course. See our on-site campuses here.

Also, let us know if your church might be interested in a partnership with Village Schools. Let’s work together to get the Word out!

See our web site if you have questions, or contact us via email or phone 952.540.9460.

In memory of Monty and Doris – Cheerio!

(This post was written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible.)

Let’s Remember Monty & Doris!

Now In Place! VSB Alumni Association


The legacy of Village Schools of the Bible founder Monty Sholund and his wife Doris includes a significant spiritual family. After three decades, over 7,000 people have benefited from VSB courses and other offerings. Monty’s exhortation was to Know, Grow and Go, and we’re scattered among workplaces, churches and neighborhoods intent on shining the Light of Christ wherever we are. The Village family is united together by our love of Jesus Christ and His Word of truth.

  • Remember those late night Bible studies writing reflection papers?
  • Those searching and challenging discipling or classroom discussions?
  • That extraordinary time of profound spiritual growth?

You’ll remember VSB and Cover-to-Cover for the rest of your life!

The VSB Alumni Association exists to serve the Village family. We journey with you through whatever life brings. Our goal is to stay connected and encourage ongoing growth in Christ. Here’s how:

  • Take Cover-to-Cover Online – With students from around the world, you get a different perspective. Refresh your spirit through a new way to dig deeper into God’s Word.
  • Subscribe to the VSB Update newsletter and have it emailed to your inbox. Please let us know about changes to your contact information.
  • Subscribe to our weekly blog posts for the latest updates and new insights.
  • Follow us on Facebook. Invite your friends to check out our Page. Our FB community — which has grown by 33% this last year — is a great way to stay connected. We post weekly updates, and we love to hear from you!
  • Follow us on Twitter. We post spiritual encouragement to just over 3,000 followers. Share and retweet. Help us spread the Light of Christ!
  • Help cover classroom expenses through the Monty and Doris Memorial Fund.
  • Be an advocate for Village: share your Cover-to-Cover experience with prospective students or churches.
  • Volunteering time at the office is a great way to catch up, support the mission and hang out!
  • Would you help host a local VSB get-together or promotional event, and invite friends? Let us know.
  • Re-establish friendships. Network with other VSB alums. Stay connected. Grow in Christ.

The Village family is with you for life.

We’re building a small team of volunteers to help serve our alumni. They provide counsel and input as time permits — including Angela Sadat, Liza Halverson and Paul Bierhaus. We sincerely appreciate their support!

Questions?  See our alumni page. Speak with Trish or Warwick Alcock. Call us on 952.540.9460 or email us.

We’re here to serve.

(This post was written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible.)


Now In Place! VSB Alumni Association

Atheism: Ten Quick Responses


University of Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox offers some concise responses to common claims by atheists.

John Lennox is also a Christian apologist who has held public debates with prominent atheists such as evolutionist Richard Dawkins, philosopher Peter Singer, and the late Christopher Hitchens (author), amongst others.

  1. You don’t believe in Zeus, Thor and all the other gods. I just go one god more than you, and reject the Christian God.

The problem with this idea, says Lennox, is that ‘gods’ such as Zeus and Thor are not remotely comparable with the biblical understanding of God. There is a vast distinction between the ancient near eastern gods and the God of the Bible. For example, pagan gods are products of the primeval mass and energy of the universe. By contrast, the God of the Bible created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

  1. Science has explained everything, and it doesn’t include God.

Science has its limits. It cannot answer certain kinds of questions, such as ‘what is ethical?’ and ‘what is beautiful?’ Science does explore and can answer many questions about the natural world, but there are different types of explanations for different things. God no more competes with science as an explanation of the universe than Henry Ford competes with the law of internal combustion as an explanation of the motor car.

  1. Science is opposed to God.

The idea that many leading atheist thinkers have of God is thoroughly pagan. Atheists define God to be a ‘god of the gaps’, and then offer a choice between science and that god. These pagan conceptions of ‘god’ might be opposed to science, but they’re not anything like the Christian God. The Biblical God is not a ‘god of the gaps’, but a God of the whole show — the bits we do understand (through science) as well as the bits we don’t.

  1. You can’t prove that there is a God.

This kind of statement ignores different kinds of proof. The word proof has two meanings. There’s the rigorous meaning in mathematics that is rare and very difficult to do. But then there’s the other meaning: beyond reasonable doubt. That’s the kind of proof we present: arguments to bring someone beyond reasonable doubt. This would include rational arguments from Christian philosophers, the personal experience of Christians, and the witness of the gospel accounts in the Bible.

  1. Faith is believing without any evidence.

People commonly think Christianity entails believing without evidence.  However, Christianity is not about having no evidence: the gospels provide evidence, as the beginning of Luke’s gospel attests. Luke refers back to ‘eyewitnesses’ and writes an orderly account of things followed ‘closely for some time’ (Luke 1:1-4). At the end of John’s gospel we read “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). Christianity is an evidence-based faith.

  1. Faith is a delusion. I’d no more believe in God than I would in the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

These caricatures have been made famous by people like Richard Dawkins. The only thing they are good for is mockery. Statements by scientists are not always statements of science, says Prof Lennox. Atheists make statements that are easily reversible. For example, Stephen Hawking said “religion is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” However, isn’t atheism just a fairy story for people afraid of the Light? What lies behind the atheist ‘delusion claims’ is the idea of wish fulfillment (i.e. that we believe what we hope to be true.) This argument works providing there is no God. But given that God exists, then atheism is wish fulfillment.

  1. Christianity claims to be true, but there are loads of denominations and they all disagree with each other, so it must be false.

Why does the existence of denominations imply Christianity is false? It might imply that Christians have very different personalities and cultures – or even that Christians aren’t good at getting on with each other – but not that Christianity isn’t true. As Professor Lennox puts it, “There are all kinds of different teams in football, but they all play football.”

  1. The Bible is immoral.

If you want to question the morality of the Bible, what basis does that morality have? There can be a serious contradiction within atheist criticisms. Dawkins wrote: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

If this is true, then why does Dawkins question the morality of anything? “Dawkins says faith is evil,” said Prof Lennox. “But at the same time he abolishes the categories of good and evil. That doesn’t make any sense.”

  1. Surely you don’t take the Bible literally?

Some atheists (and a few Christians) have a very black and white idea of how to interpret the Bible. You either have to take it literally or chuck it away, they think. That ignores the reality of language and how it reflects truth. For example, Jesus said “I am the door” (John 10:9). Says Lennox, “Is Jesus a door like a door over there? No. He is not a literal door, but he is a real door into a real experience of God. Metaphor stands for reality.”

  1. What is the evidence for God?

You can debate the existence of God until the cows come home. It can be very interesting, especially when you go into the detail and explore the subject in depth. But atheists might be missing the point or avoiding the real issue (per the examples given above). Prof Lennox’s advice is to get to the heart of the matter and ask the most important question, then go from there: “Suppose I could give evidence for God, would you be prepared right now, to repent and trust Christ?”

There are of course deeper responses to the atheist statements given above. For more in-depth answers, see the John Lennox web site.

Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15).


The above article is a condensed version of the original article below:

Tomlinson, H. Ten Quick Responses to Atheist Claims. Christianity Today. October 8, 2014.

See our web site to learn more about Village Schools of the Bible and our Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey course.

(This post was prepared by Warwick Alcock, director of strategic operations.)

Atheism: Ten Quick Responses

Cover-to-Cover Bible Study – Essential Perspectives


What is left if our Biblical heritage slips beyond our grasp? We ignore the Scriptures and our Christian faith at our peril.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. — 2 Chron 7:14.

A Global Perspective.

Western exceptionalism is rooted in the Bible. It shaped the very soul of our civilization. America became a shining light to the nations because its founding citizens read, reread and ingested God’s Word.

However, in our current secular, post-Christian culture, the Bible has become such a taboo subject that just mentioning it elicits awkward discomfort or even contempt. Sadly, Biblical illiteracy, even amongst Christians, is now almost universal, not only in the United States, but also in Europe and around the globe.

There are huge dangers ahead. The competing truth claims of other world views cannot provide the hope, significance or value that can replace the rich heritage God has given us through His Word.

We forget the Scriptures and our Christian faith at our peril. We need to recover the Bible before our Biblical heritage slips beyond our grasp.

A Twin Cities Perspective

The graph to the right, from a Church Scouts briefing, speaks volumes about trends in the TrendsTwin Cities. Key points to note:

  1. The city’s demographics are changing rapidly, largely through immigration.
  2. ‘Nones’ (blue line — people who no longer consider themselves as having any religious affiliation) are increasing fast.
  3. Evangelicals (green line) are declining. Each successive generation since the Boomers is becoming significantly less and less Christian.

Clearly, it would be irresponsible of us to do nothing, and allow the Christian spiritual climate in the Twin Cities to continue deteriorating unabated.


God is the only solution. The following responses therefore merit consideration:

  1. Pray for revival – for spiritual reawakening in our communities and cities.
  2. Get back to God’s Word – which transforms people and communities.
  3. Multiply – multiply disciples, leaders, small groups and churches to sow the gospel far, wide and deep into our culture in order to share with others the Bread of Life and the Light of the World! (Jn 6:35, 8:12).

At the center of it all is our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Word of Truth (Jn 1:1; 14:6). This is why we believe the Village Schools ministry is so vitally important.

Overview of the Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey Course

Village Schools of the Bible helps people study the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation within a year. The main objective of this course is deep spiritual formation through the entire Word of God. Our mission? Teach God’s Word and Transform Lives. A number of features make this course unique.

  1. Firstly, this Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey course helps people see Jesus Christ as the central, unifying theme of the entire Bible. We call it the Scarlet Thread of Redemption. When people discover for themselves the thematic unity between the various books of the Bible, they see — sometimes for the first time — how extraordinarily coherent and miraculous the Bible is!
  2. Secondly, this is active — not passive — study. As founder Monty Sholund would say, what you dig out for yourself, you keep forever! Those taking the course are asked to write each week what they are learning from God as they read the Bible. Guided journaling – writing and reflecting — is an important aid to learning, internalizing God’s Word, and thinking through life application.
  3. Thirdly, carefully selected teachers or mentors accompany students on this journey through the Bible, providing guidance, encouragement and feedback. It’s no wonder that so many say they’re never studied the Bible like this before — and that it’s life changing!

A High Quality Course for All

Students as young as 14 have taken the course — some alongside their parents. Home schoolers can take Cover-to-Cover to fulfil a High School Bible course. And, because of our cooperative relationships with Crown College and the University of Northwestern St-Paul, students headed for tertiary education can earn up to six credits. These are important independent indicators of the value and quality of the Cover-to-Cover course.

Anyone can take the course. Parents and grandparents take it for their own spiritual BibleStudyformation so they can disciple and mentor their children or grandchildren. Small group leaders, teachers and lay people take the course to be better equipped to reach out with the gospel and invest in others’ lives. Churches find Cover-to-Cover to be an effective tool for developing their lay leadership with the Bible knowledge needed to lead their congregations successfully on God’s mission.

The Great Commission (Mt 28:16-20) calls everyone to be a disciple maker – and not just within the confines of the church building. There’s a world to reach – starting right here on our doorstep!

An Expanding Ministry

The Cover-to-Cover course is being offered at an increasing number of churches in the Twin Cities, as can be seen from our Fall Calendar. The Village Schools ministry is expanding in Rochester, MN and Des Moines, IA, and our online platform enables taking the Cover-to-Cover course anywhere in the world.

In addition, we engage younger people with Cover-to-Cover – an important demographic to reach given the generational decline depicted in the trend lines above — and we’re delighted that Cover-to-Cover will be offered for the first time for a high school cohort at South Heights in Burnsville, MN this fall!

Student Feedback

As people internalize God’s Word they grow deep in their relationship with God, become passionate and excited about their faith and witness, and develop a more effective spiritual influence in church, at home, at work, and in their communities.

Watch these short video-clips to see what students from various walks of life say about Cover-to-Cover.

  1. A joint mother/daughter testimony.
  2. Brad’s testimony about the quality of the course.
  3. Why Justin believes this course should be for everyone.

If you want to go beyond the ordinary, this course is for you!

We Need Your Help

Given the decline of Biblical literacy the world over, we need your help more than ever. We cannot do this on our own. Help us spread the Word! Please tell people in your circles of influence about Village Schools. We encourage anyone and everyone to take the Cover-to-Cover course. God’s Word is God’s Power (Is 55:11; Ro 1:16; Heb 4:12). This is part of a dynamic, whole life discipleship course for every vocation, for every age and stage of life.

How You Can Help

This is a significant spiritual battle (Eph 6:10-19). We need prayer support on an ongoing basis, so we deeply value your prayers. For our ministry, for the Village family, for our city and nation and beyond, we pray “Thy Kingdom Come!” (Mt. 6:10).

The fee for the Cover-to-Cover course is $258 for both semesters – 16 weeks in the Old Testament, and 16 weeks in the New Testament. We desire to keep the study of God’s Word affordable. We don’t turn away anyone who cannot afford the registration fee, so we offer scholarships. The ministry is heavily subsidized by our donors, for whom we are very grateful. Donors make our ministry possible.

However, we need to spread the load.

Does this ministry line up with your spiritual convictions and philanthropic goals? Here are two easy ways to make a difference:

  1. Would you consider becoming a sustaining member of Village Schools of the Bible? Just $5 a month can make a difference to help cover our costs. Click here to become a monthly contributor.
  2.  Consider making a contribution to the Monty and Doris Sholund Memorial Fund named after the founder of Village Schools of the Bible, and his wife. This helps monty-editedfund core aspects of the ministry such as teacher stipends, textbooks and scholarships to help financially challenged students afford Cover-to-Cover fees.


We are always on the lookout for ways to come alongside and help others fulfil the Great Commission. God’s Kingdom business is urgent. If we can come alongside and help your ministry and mission through our Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey course, please let us know. We’re here to serve. Together we can accomplish so much more.

Questions? Need more information?

See the Village Schools of the Bible web site.

Alternatively, email Contact@VillageSchoolsoftheBible.org, or call 952.540.9460.

(The post was written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible.)

Cover-to-Cover Bible Study – Essential Perspectives

Music as Mission

Music as mission

Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Kurt CobainRock musician Kurt Cobain (1967 -1994), considered one of the top 100 guitarists of all time, reflected the pessimism, philosophical emptiness and nihilism of Generation X (those born between the 1960s and 1980s) so effectively that his album Nevermind (meaning ‘don’t bother’) sold ten million copies, displacing Michael Jackson at the top of the charts. He called his band Nirvana, which, according to Indian intellectual Vishal Mangalwadi, refers to the final goal of Buddhism: release from cycles of meaningless suffering through the dissolution of illusory individuality into Shoonyta (nothingness).

What is the purpose of music? In a pessimistic or philosophically empty worldview it has no purpose. In this regard, Kurt Donald Cobain and Johann Sebastian Bach were as far apart from each other as the first and last chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes.

Bach’s life was saturated with both music and theology. His forbears were so musically gifted (seven generations of Bachs produced 53 prominent musicians) that “Bach” and “musician” became synonymous. At family gatherings the Bach family sang chorales. Bach’s father was a violinist, his uncle an organist and composer; and his wife Anna Magdalena — a singer and daughter of a court trumpeter — copied music scores.

BachBorn in 1685, just over 200 years after Martin Luther’s birth in 1483, Bach and Luther had much in common. Both loved music. (Luther, following in the tradition of the Biblical David, was a prolific hymnodist.) Bach’s birthplace was not far from Wartburg Castle, where Elector of Saxony Frederick the Wise sheltered Luther after his ex-communication by Pope Leo X in 1521. Bach was baptized in a church where Luther had preached while traveling to and from the Diet of Worms, where Emperor Charles V had called Luther to face heresy charges. Bach attended the same Latin School that Luther had attended.

At school Bach was a choir boy with a routine of daily rehearsals and services. His general education included Lutheran reformation theology which comprehensively prepared him for worship music composition. He had access to a library of music by leading composers of church music dating back to the 16th century; and by his late teens he had become an accomplished violinist and organist, composing cantatas that demonstrated extraordinary musical and theological acumen.

After a stint as Court Organist and Konzertmeister to the Duke of Weimar, Bach had risen by 1717 to Kapellmeister in the court of German Prince Leopold, was organist at a prominent church, and was composing some of his well-known Brandenburg Concertos. His output was prodigious: By 1722, as cantor at Leipzig, he composed 60 cantatas a year — this while also teaching and providing music for churches (which had to be composed, copied, rehearsed and reviewed with church pastors).

SDG signatrueBach’s 80-volume personal library of theology included Luther’s translation of the Bible and two sets of Luther’s complete works. In accordance with the Greatest Commandments of the Christian faith (Mt 22:36-40), he believed his God-given calling was writing music to the glory of God and the edification of his neighbor.

Staunch faith informed Bach’s life, his career, and his music: he was a theologian whose tools-of-the-trade consisted of musical scores, organs, and cantatas. Almost three-fourths of his 1,000 compositions were written for worship. He viewed all his cantatas, Passions and organ chorales as powerfully proclaiming the gospel, and for this reason is affectionately described by many as the “Fifth Evangelist.”

He wrote music to bring glory, not to himself, but to God, which is why he wrote (like Georg Frideric Handel of Messiah fame)  the initials SDG (Soli Deo Gloria, “To God alone be glory”) at the end of most of his scores.

Soli Deo Gloria was one of five “solae” defining the Protestant Reformation — the other four being Sola Scriptura (the Bible alone as authoritative in faith and practice), Sola fide (Justification by faith alone), Sola gratia (Salvation by grace alone), and Solus Christus (Christ, the only mediator between God and Man).

Towards the end of Bach’s career, the understanding that mankind existed to serve God and the common good was giving way to a lower view of music spawned by the Enlightenment (and subsequently reflected in today’s skeptical post-modern culture) that defines music at best as self-expression, or merely a gratification of the sense of hearing for emotional pleasure, or as having no purpose at all.

Kurt Cobain’s life was tragically despairing and brief. Hearts invariably go out to lives snuffed out in the kind of spiritless culture described in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes. In one of his lyrics Cobain wrote:

Silence, Here I am, Here I am, Silent.
Death is what I am…Die.

 At just 27 years of age, Kurt Cobain took his convictions to their tragic conclusion and ended his life with a shotgun, triggering (according to Rolling Stone magazine) at least 68 copycat suicides.

Bach lived in a very different milieu than that of Cobain. But his music, played the world over to this day, calls to mind a Message that reaches out to the human spirit in any age, and will continue to do so until the end of time. The aim and final end of all music, said Bach, should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. Hymnodists like Issac Watts and Charles Wesley who followed in Bach’s wake, would undoubtedly agree.

Bach’s legacy was an enduring gift of tremendous value to all humanity. According to music experts, his Mass in B Minor, a synthesis in 27 sections across four movements of every stylistic and technical contribution he had made to music, represents one of the greatest compositions in musical history. This towering monument in music and song, completed a year before his death at age 65 in Leipzig in 1750, can be regarded as Bach’s last and greatest tribute to the highest purpose of music: music as mission.

Bach’s example is an inspiration to the human spirit. Regardless of how different and varied our vocations may be, let us pursue them with passionate conviction and clarity of purpose for the glory of God and the common good of all.

This post was written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations at Village Schools of the Bible.

Johann Sebastian Bach. ’The Fifth Evangelist’Christianity Today.
Stapert, C. R. To the Glory of God Alone. Christianity Today.
Mangalwadi, V. The Book that Made Your World. Thomas Nelson, 2011.

Music as Mission