Saturday, April 25, 2009

Biblical Illiteracy: Pastor's Excuse #1

Biblical Illiteracy: Pastor's Excuse #1 -
"The people who attend my church are not ready for in depth Bible teaching. They would not understand the details since they do not have a biblical background."
Fallacy of Pastor's Excuse #1 -
The above response (or, excuse) for biblical illiteracy in a church gives the impression that there are many new people attending the Sunday morning church services who have not yet been orientated to the Scriptures. This answer is camouflage since statistics show that church attendance is down nationally (21% of people ages 21-45 attend church in 2009, down from 33% in the early 1970's, WallStreet Journal 3/13/09) and the number of self-professing Christians has declined from 86% to 76% since 1990 (Newsweek, "The End of Christian America", April 13, 2009).

This means that the vast majority of people in church have been there for years. So, why are the people still biblically illiterate? The pastors failed to teach the Bible for many years. Maybe the pastors don't believe the Bible? Maybe the pastors don't know the Bible? Maybe the pastors are afraid the people will leave? We do know that is true - the people are leaving but it is not because the pastors are teaching too much Bible.

Even if a church is receiving large numbers of new people each week the statistics still show they are people who are simply moving from another church. This week they will be in this church, but soon they will be moving on to an other church. It is almost as if they are looking for something.

So, the reason people are biblically illiterate is NOT because:
1. The church is being flooded with new converts.
2. The church has not had time to teach the basics.

The pastors have had years to cover the basics of Bible and theology from the pulpit but have almost universally and across denominations decided not to. The people have been sitting there in the pews for years available for Bible teaching, but they have received so little that it is easy to label Christians of today as biblically illiterate.

In a wide variety of Christian circles I have heard pastors ridicule the public school's performance on standardized tests or mock the test performance of United State's students when compared to other nations. It is time to turn the focus on the utter failure of the educational ability of the modern church itself. I do not want to hear the sickening excuses, explanations and justifications of pastors when they have to face the fact that standardized testing of basic Bible literacy in their congregations would show they are this generation's educational failures.

Our Christian generation inherited a large percentage lead over any other religion in the world. In our nation Christians (76%, down from 86% in 1990) still have a large lead over atheists (4%), Judiasm (1.2%) and Muslims (0.6%). Imagine going into a baseball game as a pitcher with a lead of 76-4 and losing the game!? Today's pastors are walking the bases full and then throwing the high, hanging curve ball out over the plate time after time. (That means they are giving up four-run homers Sunday after Sunday. Which is not good if you want to win.) This pitcher needs to start throwing good, low strikes or be replaced.

Pastor, how much time do you need before your people are ready to handle the Word of Truth? Is 5 years long enough? 10 years? 20 years? You have had some people sitting in your churches their entire life who are still "not ready to handle Bible teaching." In the ancient world, when the sheep starved, the shepherds were called "worthless" and fired. When sheep starve in modern USA the farmer is fined and could get jail time for neglegence and animal abuse.
Galyn Wiemers