Most churchgoers don’t read bible daily

 

“Bible engagement has an impact in just about every area of spiritual growth,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “You can follow Christ and see Christianity as your source of truth, but if that truth does not permeate your thoughts, aspirations and actions, you are not fully engaging the truth.
“God’s Word is truth, so it should come as no surprise that reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most impact on growth in this attribute of spiritual maturity,” Stetzer said. “As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who are not reading the Bible regularly. You simply won’t grow if you don’t know God and spend time in God’s Word.”

Where do I begin?

Maybe grief would be the best place to start.  Excuse me while I put on my sackcloth and ashes and cry before God concerning the state of His church. If these kind of statistics don’t break your heart I fear you may be in the 80% who say with their mouth that they want to honor Jesus but really don’t care enough to read what He wrote.

If we divide the survey into two groups – those that read more than once a week and those who read less – it’s roughly 45% vs. 46% (40% of whom read it less than once a month or never) – we can see that our churches may be the biggest mission field for discipleship.  I would even question whether someone who reads the bible less than once a month is even truly born again but that may be for another blog post.

Why?

The Scriptures are more available in more ways today than ever before in history. Our forefathers in the faith – Tyndale, Luther, Wycliffe – wrestled with empires and kings to bring us the bible in the language of the common man. Today most people with smartphones carry enough computing power to run study bible apps with commentaries, dictionaries and graphs that would fill a small library.

The recent trend in bible translations has been the dumbing down of the readership.  No longer are people expected to read a good translation such as the ESV, NKJV or NASB, instead we have bibles in story format, movie script format and even one that promises to only take one minute of your day (The One Minute Bible).  Yet no matter how childish and watered down they make it – people still refuse to read it! Can you imagine a professional musician who only practiced one minute per day? Or a professional football player who said “Ok coach, I’m here at practice but only for one minute.”

What can we conclude?

If it were up to me, I’d round up the 55% who aren’t reading the bible at least several times per week and start preaching salvation to them.  I honestly don’t think you can be truly born again and not love the Scriptures.

Next, I would start emphasizing the bible as the basis for everything.  Every political view, every sociological view, every business practice, every interpersonal dynamic should be held up to the bible as the standard by which we live.  Every time an opinion is expressed – we should be asking “what chapter and verse do you have for that?”

If we profess to be Christians, reading the bible is step one.  Until we accomplish that, there is no need for a second step.

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Baptists in decline?

USA Today reports:

NASHVILLE — Baptisms fell to their lowest number in 60 years among Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention began declining three years before this 2005 photo of Rev. Jim Cross of First Baptist Church in Donelson, Tenn., baptizing Luke Charlton, 7.

By Mark Humphrey, AP Baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention began declining three years before this 2005 photo of Rev. Jim Cross of First Baptist Church in Donelson, Tenn., baptizing Luke Charlton, 7.

The new numbers are a sign that the denomination is in trouble, Baptist leaders say.

“This is not a blip,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay. “This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline.”

In 2010, Southern Baptists baptized 332,321 people, or 17,416 fewer than in 2009, according to a report released by Nashville-based LifeWay Research. This marks the eighth time in 10 years that baptisms have declined and the lowest number of baptisms since the 1950s.


My comments:

I’m not surprised.  Romans tell us that:

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Romans 10:13-14 (ESV)

Too many churches have substituted culturally relevant, seeker sensitive, “how to feel good about yourself” activities and talks (I dare not call them sermons) instead of preaching the gospel. Just ask yourself one question “Would Jonathan Edwards be invited back to preach at my church after delivering Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?”

If not, your church social club may be happily driving down the wide path of a seeker sensitive, purpose driven non-gospel centered religious group.  The narrow path, however, is rarely taken anymore (Matt 7:13-14).

News such as this should cause us to rend our garments, throw a little ash on our heads and have us crying out to God in repentance for not making the gospel of Jesus Christ our first and only reason for being (1 Cor 2:2).

Pastor Cho involved in dispute with elders

The Korean Times is reporting that the elders of Yoido Full Gospel Church have questioned emeritus Pastor Cho’s previous commitment to step down from leadership and let Lee Young-hoon take over as senior pastor.  It seems Pastor Cho is having trouble letting go of his empire and would rather give it to his sons.

Perhaps I failed to read that chapter in the New Testament where it states that the church is a family dynasty to be inherited by the children. It is my understanding that the elders should decide after prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit who the next leader would be.

I can think of several large ministries recently where children have “inherited” their father’s ministries: Crystal Cathedral, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Marilyn Hickey Ministries, John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church among others. Perhaps today’s celebrity preachers would do well to remember that the church belongs to Jesus Christ, not to them personally and thus it is not theirs to give to their sons.

What is the Church coming to?

Miriam over at Endtimes Prophetic Words flagged up this post on Godfrey Birtill and what goes on in “worship” services.

Are there actually people who find this acceptable behavior in a church? Was there no one there with an ounce of common sense who should have put a stop to this?

I have sometimes wondered why God was so harsh with Judah – allowing them to be carried off to Babylon – until I read that they were sacrificing their children to Molech not even a quarter of a mile from the Temple.  God has limits to His patience and when judgment comes – and it will – it will be severe for those who participate in these pagan practices.

The charismatic world needs to do some housecleaning and repenting while grace is still available.  May God have mercy on these fools.