Bible in the Church

It is an inescapable fact that knowledge of the Bible among Christians, on average, is at a pretty low ebb. There may be many reasons for that: the effect of Liberalism over the last century and a half; the decline of Sunday Schools; the unpopularity of expository preaching and the substitution of drama, testimony and other forms of evangertainment; neglect of family worship and personal devotions; even the multiplicity of Bible versions may all have had their effect. But the question is, what can be done to counteract this decline? We have to get the Bible into the Church, into the minds and hearts of the church members. This must begin with the preaching. We must resist the trend against expository preaching. There are plenty of books available on that theme. But there are other things we can do. Some years ago a preacher took one of our services and to my disappointment did not read the Bible until he came to his sermon, and then he read only the short passage he was preaching from. I decided from that time onwards that whoever was preaching we would have two Scripture readings, an Old Testament and a New Testament reading, and where possible that both should be linked to the text of the sermon.
Also, the All-Age Bible School would always have at least one adult class on a Bible book, and the church members would be encouraged to read the Bible through each year, following Murray McCheyne’s scheme or one similar. Quiet Times and Family Worship were also frequently mentioned and promoted. One other practice we followed for some years was to have a Bible ‘Book of the Month’. Each month we would concentrate on a book of the Bible. I would preach some sermons from it. The members would be encouraged to read that book through in the month, and I would teach at least one major doctrine and instruct in one major practical teaching from the book. For example when we read Genesis as a church I preached from it, taught on the doctrine of Creation, and also on marriage. From Exodus I taught the doctrine of Redemption, and the importance of the moral Law of God. Leviticus brought us to the doctrine of Propitiation, and an emphasis on holiness, worship, and the priesthood of believers, and so on. In our Day School, the children memorized a substantial passage from the Bible each month. In these ways we sought to enable the congregation to know their Bibles. One preacher told me that instead of children’s addresses he simply told the story of the Scriptures in his own words, from Genesis through to Revelation, and that this took about six years, after which he simply started again. This gave both adults and children an overview of the Bible.

One Response to “Bible in the Church”

  1. Mark Bonnington Says:

    Thanks Stanley for this site and your wisdom. I grew up under Harold Owen in Woking and he mentioend your name, ministry and teaching appreciatively. I was inspired to seek to combine theological depth with spirtual vitality and since I’ve been leading a church in Durham with a large student minsitry I’ve found that many of the lessons of my upbringing remain deeply formative of the vision of missional church with which we are working, Thanks be to God. Every blessing. Mark Bonnington

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