Years ago a book was published entitled “Addicted To Mediocrity”. To be honest, I never read it. It was focused on a specific subject in which I had no interest. But the title grabbed me.
Today, it strikes me that the Church in America isn’t just addicted to mediocrity (a case could be made for that still), but we are Addicted to Immaturity. Why is it that so few who claim to be Christian understand scripture? Why is it we hear whines of “It is just a matter of interpretation” (when anyone who has studied the Word knows this is almost never the case). Why do people who have been Christian for decades “need to be fed”?
When I came to the Lord in the Jesus movement we were not known for maturity. So, when I realized that the depth of teaching I was getting was pretty bleak, I looked to people who had been Christians much longer than I had. I was very disappointed. None of them understood the scripture—in fact, most hadn’t even read the Bible through, and when they found out I had, they began asking ME questions!
I didn’t realize why this was until I went to college—Bible College. What I learned was interesting. The Bible isn’t mysterious—God is, in fact, an excellent communicator! The problem is, we don’t take the time to actually study the Bible. Instead, we want intermediators—“preachers” to tell us what God says and wants in our lives. That way, we have someone telling us what to do—and someone to blame if things don’t go right! We don’t have to study, spend time learning things and wrestling with what God is doing in us. We just ask “Pastor” (who in colluding with this is doing anything BUT “pastoring”). It keeps us in ignorance, but that ignorance provides us with cover when things go wrong. And we actually seem to like it that way.
The problem of course is that this isn’t what God has called us to at all. The Culture of Christ is a priesthood of all believers—we ALL represent God to those who haven’t been reconciled to Him. That means we ALL need to hear Him and understand His word. We all need to be mature in how we handle the Word of God. AND WE CAN!!!! (Yes, I am “yelling” in print!).
Where do we start? Anyone who goes to Bible College or Seminary is very quickly going to take three classes (among others): Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey, and Hermeneutics (OK, “Understanding The Bible” for those who are intimidated by that word). These are classes required by virtually every “Christian college”—universally accepted as foundational to understanding scripture. Now, if someone becomes part of a church, the church often offers many classes on many subjects. But guess what is almost never taught? Those three classes so universally acknowledged as important for anyone studying the Bible. Why is this? Because for some reason church leaders believe it is THEIR job to teach the Bible, not to teach people how to study the Bible. The result: we addict our people to immaturity.
So here is a suggestion. If you are a church leader, don’t “feed” your people. Teach them to feed themselves! Offer these basic classes and expose your people to the Bible in such a way as to allow them to understand the entire Bible and begin to use it as the tool God intended it to be. Every church leader should be capable of teaching these classes and equipping our people. (And when those classes are offered, start teaching exegetical classes to allow people to practice Bible study.)
If you are training ministers—whether in a formal education setting or a mentoring relationship—make sure they are able to teach their people how to feed themselves! If you are hiring a “preacher”, refuse to hire anyone—in any pastoral role—who can’t teach at this basic level.
If you are part of a congregation that doesn’t offer this basic Bible education, tell them you want it. You might be surprised. Maybe it won’t threaten them. It might even encourage them! It is time for us to realize the level of maturity God has created us for, and to reject the addiction to immaturity! Solid Biblical training isn’t the only answer—but it is where we need to start, because all scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, correction, reproof, and training in righteousness so that all God’s people will be fully equipped for every good thing He asks us to do.