Christians need to learn the Bible
It is well known that the average person in the pew no longer has a good grasp of the Bible. Yes there are a few exceptions in certain families and in certain congregations, but generally Bible knowledge is much less than it was a few generations ago. The Canadian Bible Engagement Study reveals some of the numbers in Canada, which is probably fairly typical in the West.
There are many things that need to be done to address this, but I believe that pastors of local congregations have one of the most crucial roles. They are on the frontline and have opportunities that few others have. Instead of getting frustrated with biblical illiteracy and falling back to just telling interesting stories, pastors need to take a stand and teach the Bible. Here are three things that pastors should teach their congregations.
1. Teach the content of the Bible
There was a time when a person could make a passing reference to a Bible story and everyone would know the full context. Those days are gone. Many people within churches no longer know the content of the Bible. Pastors can address this in sermons and Bible studies. This may include sermon series on specific books of the Bible. You can also include Bible readings that are not directly connected with the sermon. Do not be afraid of the lectionary.
2. Teach how to interpret the Bible
It is important to know what is in the Bible but understanding how to interpret that content is just as important. Many Christians have no understanding of genre or context or figures of speech. What happens if a Christian attempts to interpret a Proverb the way they would interpret a Gospel or Revelation? The pastor needs to provide basic training on how to interpret. I try to include interpretive principles in my sermons so that the congregation is equipped to look at other passages as well.
3. Teach how to teach the Bible
Let’s face it, a pastor can only do so much. What happens when one is a pastor of a mid- to large-sized church? The pastor cannot do all of the Bible teaching by themselves. One of the main tasks should be to teach Christians how to teach the Bible. The pastor may not be able to meet with everyone in every Bible study but they may may be able to meet with the Bible study leaders. Don’t just hand a leader a Bible study package and send them off. Provide the training so they can teach the Bible effectively. Consider finding just five people in your church that you could mentor into strong Bible teachers.
One resource that I have put together to help improve biblical literacy is Genesis to Revelation: A Taste of the Entire Bible. You may find it helpful in your ministry or church.