For years I have had a conviction that the church is failing to teach people how to use the Bible. We are not teaching them how to study God’s Word. We are not teaching them how to listen to His still small voice. We are not teaching them how to read His Word in search of truth that needs to be applied to daily life. We are not teaching them how to open God’s Word to encounter a great God and realize our insignificance. I also have a fear that those who fail to bring a Bible to Sunday School and worship probably are not using it through the week.
While we may succeed in teaching them without their Bibles how to do group Bible study in Sunday School and worship, we often succeed only in teaching them how to follow along someone else’s agenda in looking at a passage from the Bible. They don’t know how to do so themselves. While we may succeed in teaching them how to answer someone else’s questions, they don’t know how to develop their own or even how to discover the answers. While we may succeed in helping them to realize the importance of a passage or a truth from God’s Word, it is often not personalized. There is seldom any attempt to discern a personal message from God.
Furthermore, have you noticed in so many churches how few Bibles are actually being brought. Look next time in class. Look next time you are entering or leaving worship. I like the suggestion made by Gene Fant in an article entitled FIRST-PERSON: Using the Bible in discipleship and worship (check it out!). Gene suggested listening to the turn of pages during worship. Frequently in our churches today the passage is projected on a wall or maybe printed in an order of worship. So there is silence rather than pages rustling. Attenders don’t bring their Bibles to church and then don’t seek God’s presence and His Word for their lives through the week.
What are some ways we can teach them to use the Bible in Sunday School? We once had the “six point record system” on small pads of paper or on offering envelopes. Bringing your Bible and reading the Bible daily were expected and counted. I have heard of teachers who bought a Bible for every member. I have heard of classes who bought Bibles that stayed in the classroom. I have seen recent contests which included points for bringing Bibles.
What have you done recently to stem the tide of those no longer bringing their Bibles? Are Gene and I the only persons who see this as a problem? Pray about how you can lead attenders in your Sunday School to use their Bibles. Be revolutionary!