No Bibles in churches?

One advantage to visiting around Churches so much is that we get to see a wide variety of good preaching and good choirs…and of course, some not quite as good. BJ and I also look for good Sunday School classes, or small groups, or whatever you want to call them. One of the things I’ve noticed, and I’m not sure if it is just Southern Baptists doing this or other denominations do as well, but many Southern Baptist Sunday School classes don’t even break out a Bible!

Let me explain…

I like to find Sunday School classes with folks that aren’t afraid to speak up and talk about the material they (hopefully) studied. I do not enjoy sitting through a small group “sermon.” I’m prepared to listen to the Pastor’s sermon, but I want the small group to participate, to actually try to figure out how to apply lessons to our own lives.

But I digress…

Most SBC Sunday Schools now use published educational material. Or, I should say most of the ones we’ve been to the last 10 years, including those in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. This material, generally a study through one book or two from the Bible, contains the verses, explanations of the scripture and why it’s relevant to us today…and then some questions for us to ponder upon finishing. There’s no “reason” to pick up your Bible at all because it’s all right there…in the handy little study guide.

I find it odd that a denomination that preaches so much on the inerrancy of the scripture and the ideas that believers must “stand” on the word and all that stuff has—or is in the process of—doing away with the very thing they’re standing on. Okay, it’s not that they’re really “doing away” with it, but why on earth would they continue to encourage it’s non-use via members? Why would churches continue to use material that allows members to keep their Bibles closed?

I think maybe it’s because Church members have become lazy in their use of the Bible and Bible study. What’s happened is that Lifeway, the Southern Baptist Convention’s version of Barnes and Noble, is producing “education material” for the mass of Baptist churches and the Baptist churches are gobbling it up. If you’ve never seen the Lifeway material, I’m not suggesting it is bad, but I am suggesting it is making believers lazy. Lifeway Sunday School material prints the scripture verses for the lesson in both KJV (for the old folks in the SBC: “Hey, if the KJV was good enough for St. Paul, it’s good enough for me!”) and in the Holman Standard, or the Lifeway owned Bible.

And don’t think I’m picking on Lifeway, most of the material out there is doing it—Lifeway is just the most popularly purchased. Lifeway, like any other material, has some good stuff and some bad stuff.

But my whole point is that I think Churches should be using material that encourages members to actually open their Bible and not just the study book. Who knows, they might get interested in the chapter they’re reading and actually read a little more!

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “No Bibles in churches?

  1. Quinton J. Bedwell

    I used to be SB until I went to an Independent Baptist church [not the associational Independent but a truly independent baptist church] We were alittle shocked at first when we heard the preaching but that’s because it was real preaching and not just “sharing.” If it’s a Biblical stand your looking for in a church….that is the place to go…

  2. Clayton

    As a SB, I have to agree. We’ve dummied down Sunday School and most teaching that we do, we don’t want to offend the non-readers of scripture. We are definitely not proving ourselves to be students of the Word of God and we’re not fulling II Timothy 2:15. BUT!!!!!.. I don’t think St. Paul read the KJV because he lived many years before it was published. (You should know that!) He did read the Aramaic or Greek version…..you could try that version sometime… It’s sad that we’ve lost our love for God and His Word. We’ve lost the ability to communicate with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ about God’s Word and how it’s changing us daily……….

  3. The “KJV good enough for St. Paul” was MEANT to be a joke. 🙂

  4. Jeris Hamm

    I totally agree. I’ve noticed this for years. And why do they skip over whole passages and just pick out two or three verses for the “lesson.” I like King James because it has many layers of meaning you can “mine” for yourself. After all, don’t you have to dig to find real treasure?

  5. ant'ny

    I think a combination approach could/migt work best. I remember, from my own Sunday School days, that the classes were taught by volunteers. They had no special training, no special education, no theological background or knowledge that make them a “better” or “more able” instructor. As a result, we got a lot of subjective, mangled treatments of Scripture.

    I’m guessing that you have a similar situation here. Many people are very uncomfortable speaking in public and might stick to what the “book” (rather than the “Book”) says and that’s all they’re saying.

    So at least a guided discussion of very finite Scripture is better than a loose cannon on deck, no?

    But Lifeway, et. al., could also put some outlines for leading a true reading of Scripture, establishing context and all that. Unless they already do, and then it comes back to the teacher’s willingness/dedication.

  6. Steve Taylor

    Unfortunately, it often goes a step further.
    Not only are we printing the Scripture in the “quarterly” robbing everyone of any chance of looking at the context, but then they get to the sanctuary and the words get put up on the screen, so one does not even need to BRING a Bible to church. We have many in our churches that could not find Zechariah if it were not for the Table of Contents. I would pray that every class and every worship service required its participants to actively engaged in reading the Bible for themselves.

    Oh, I am Southern Baptist, Roland is exactly right, and as a pastor I am trying to change it one church at a time!

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