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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Foundational Problem

I was reading an academic paper recently.  It was exploring what were some possible explanations for why people are leaving churches.  Especially, younger people.  I think the author may have missed it.
Why do you think people are leaving the churches?  What should be done?  Thoughts at DTTB.
People are leaving, I would suggest, because their faith, their understanding of the Bible is not their own.  They have been trained to be consumers of the faith, study, and understanding of the Bible of others.  Their pastors, their Sunday school teachers, their small group leaders, the authors of Christian books, the speakers at Christian conferences – there are a few voices out there that are trumpeting the necessity of personal Bible study, but their voices are drowned out by the din of the avalanche of Christian publications.  Why study when you can buy 347 books on the subject?

So when life gets tough, when everything is going, you know where, in a hand basket.  It really doesn’t matter that your pastor has really dug into the Word, asked the tough questions, and has applied the reality of the Sovereignty of God to His life.  No one can survive on another person’s solid convictions.  They have to be personal.

So ask.  When was the last time your community of faith encouraged you to Study the Bible for yourself?  No, more than that – with that encouragement, showed you how to study?  How to find the message of a book?  How to approach a topic that is troubling you?  Equipped you with the skills to do it yourself?  In the 49 years in which I have been paying attention, I have never seen it other than the workshops I have lead in the past six years.

We cannot expect people to stay engaged on the basis of someone else’s experience.  More teaching will not solve the problem.  We have to do what Ephesians 4:11 – 12 commands.  Then and only then can the people in our communities really do what the Bereans did in Acts 17:11.  Only then can they be noble minded, and only then will they have a reason to stay.  It is then their conviction.

1 comment:

  1. I would agree that staying dependent on someone to provide a pre-digested food doesn't help one to grow out of diapers. So I see my call -- to wet the appetite of the folks and help them grab the spoon and learn to feed themselves first, then to feed others.