We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Train Up A Church In the Way It Should Go

I borrowed today’s title from a section of the introduction to Brannon Howse’s new book, Grave Influence. I just started this book last night and only finished the introduction, but Brannon had some profound thoughts which I want to share here with you. His introduction mentions much of what I have been observing and complaining about for years. Now listen to Brannon:

The church in America has had billions of dollars at its disposal in modern times. In theory, this money has been available to fulfill the Great Commission - making disciples of Jesus Christ. Training and equipping adults and students in apologetics and a Biblical worldview is how this is accomplished. Yet, with all of its monetary resources, the Church has largely failed. Untold billions have been spent on buildings and entertainment rather than establishing Christians in the faith.

... Most churches do not care to do this work of creating followers of Jesus Christ. They are too concerned about maintaining and growing a club complete with social activities, entertaining programs, and multi-million dollar buildings.

You may think I’m being too harsh, but in fact, I’m being reserved in my criticism. Yes, some churches are led by godly pastors. But from what I’ve seen of the congregations in America, these faithful churches represent merely a remnant.

How hard is it to train adults and youth pastors to teach apologetics and a Biblical Worldview? Not that hard. You simply have to want to train a church staff, Sunday School teachers, parents, and grandparents to do it. The typical evangelical church prefers, rather, to simply provide people with employment, to make those who show up on Sunday morning feel comfortable, and to provide activities for the kids so they stay out of trouble. Most evangelical churches do not have a comprehensive Biblical worldview curriculum for kindergarten through adult. There are no benchmarks, no tests, no building one year of training on the previous year. There is no interest in teaching “line upon line and precept upon precept.”

And herein lies one of our greatest areas of surrender. The Church may not be interested in instructing our kids, but many others “out there” salivate over the opportunity. Humanist and educator Charles Francis Potter, in his book, Humanism: A New Religion, understood the prospects for equipping students to know what they believe and why they believe it:

Education is the most powerful ally of Humanism [atheism], and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday Schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?

“Ah,” you say, “but what about those students that attend a Christian school?” Numerous studies reveal that Christian school students have a worldview almost identical to those in the public school system. Why? Because the average private, Christian school in America is far more “private” than it is “Christian.” While there are a few Biblical worldview Christian schools, there aren’t many, and it is for essentially the same reason that we don’t have many solid Bible-teaching churches. Their goal is not Christian education, the leadership often lacks a comprehensive Biblical worldview, and the focus is more about how many people attend, whether or not the bills get paid, and how popular it is in the community. Christian schools put more effort into their sports programs than into their Bible curriculum. I attended a Christian school growing up and have spoken in enough of them to have seen this problem firsthand, over and over again.

Brannon, I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said! I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book.

1 comment:

4simpsons said...

I agree. I've been giving an overview of the Bible to some 30-something couples. The good news is that they are taking it in and are eager to learn. The bad news is that it is like they are hearing some really basic things for the first time.