At RFBC students are taught a ministry catch phrase: By His Spirit, through His word we become new, creatures of The Word. Can I tell you a secret? I don’t tell my students this because it flows well and sounds theologically nice. I tell my students this because I absolutely believe it. I am under the deep conviction that the only way to truly know Jesus, the Word in flesh (see John 1) is through the written Word. I absolutely want my students to know Jesus. So therefore I have made a commitment in my heart: I utterly refuse to invest anything other than the Word of God into the students that God has placed under my care. This isn’t an emotional conclusion I cherry picked from a well-written book, this is the conviction that was birthed in early quiet mornings within a heart that has experienced the raw life-changing power of The Word and continues to experience it to this day. This is the Spirit-wrought conviction from spending four years teaching the Bible to young adults and college students and four months to high school students. This is the conviction that has developed from success and from failure. I say failure because though the conviction is deep, it’s never easy. Trust me, the Bible’s life-altering power isn’t a secret. The devil knows about it’s power to save (James 1), thus he works tediously to distract us from it. The following list is not exhaustive by any measure, but here are two common tactics or ideas I have learned to wrestle against.
- “You have to play games because modern people or young people can’t pay attention for that long.”
That may be true. I know quite a few people who seem to struggle with paying attention to anything for longer than thirty seconds. Im not joking, some people literally have the attention span of a gnat. However this assumption is false when it comes to the Bible because of two reasons. One reason is because people assume the Bible is boring and therefore because it is boring people can’t pay attention. I have learned something over the last few years. The only people who think that the Bible is boring is people who have never read the Bible. It is no little known fact that The Bible is the highest selling book of all time, that is remarkable considering that we live in a secularized post-Christian culture. This might seem obvious but I like to state the obvious: The Bible is the highest selling book of all time because it is the most interesting book ever written. The Bible isn’t boring, if you don’t believe me then just try reading it. Whether you believe it or not, I can guarantee that you won’t find it to be boring. The second reason is because this book is alive and full of supernatural power (Hebrews 4:12). Ask yourself the following question: Do I believe that “games” have the super natural power to change lives? I’m assuming that if you still exist in the realm of orthodoxy then you answered with an empathic “No.” I refuse to play games with my students because they can play games at home. People come to church to know God and experience life change through Him. The Bible isn’t boring and if your students say it is then perhaps you should change your teaching style, but for heaven’s sake don’t stop teaching The Bible. The Word isn’t boring, it Is supernaturally alive and will change the reader’s life.
2. “Just teach the exciting parts. No one wants to hear from Leviticus.”
There is a danger I think in just teaching about “thoughts” from random places in the Bible. The danger is evident amongst many young Christians today. Many people know about certain events in the Bible but they have no clue as to how it all fits together. I believe the Bible has a ‘meta-narrative’ or “deep story-line” from which it reveals to us it’s message. Leviticus may not be your favorite or you may not like Romans 9, but that doesn’t diminish it’s value. It has a contribution to the running thread just as Revelation and John 3:16 does. I don’t want my students to know bits and pieces of the Bible, I want them to know the whole Bible. The Bible is best taught when it is all taught. I refuse to omit “the boring parts” because their are no boring parts. Just read it and discover the thrilling narrative for yourself. Invest the whole counsel of the Word of God, not just the parts you think are exciting.
I remember a few summers ago leading a young men’s Bible study behind our house that met every Wednesday night from six PM until midnight. Yes, 6 hours of Bible teaching/preaching. And we were growing, rapidly. As people began to take notice, I can recall an older man who was certain we had discovered a new fad asking me, “How do you get all those young guys to come to a Bible study for six hours every week?” He was rather shocked by the answer I think. Because it was not the lack of a dress code, flashing lights with smoke, or even the outdoors setting (most nights were humid, hot, and rather uncomfortable with all the gnats and insects). My answer was simple: We just teach the Bible. Now, presently, I have lived just enough of the Christian life to make a profound observation. There were periods where I became distracted from the central teaching of The Word. Every single time the ministry dwindled and people went unchanged. I’m nothing special, I’m just a rookie minister green as it gets. But I have lived enough Christian life to learn one valuable lesson: By His Spirit, through His word we are made new, creatures of The Word. Teach the Bible and nothing but the whole Bible, because through it God speaks by His Holy Spirit. That’s how lives get changed and that’s how movements, like the Reformation, get their start. May God spark a fire of reformation once again among His people.
Blessings in Christ,