I hope I'm not the only one who notices how, er, shallow some local church ministries have become. I'm serious. Go to most niche meetings -those geared towards men, women, or young adults- and the teaching there is pretty lean. Even if it's called a Bible study, 90% of the time the book people are studying is not actually something that is part of the Bible at all. My church was recently doing a 'Bible Study' through an Erwin Lutzer book - I'm still trying to find the Book of Lutzer in my ESV table of contents, but to no avail. It's just really awful. Our churches are shallow.
So we need a solution.
First, we can be a little more vocal in asking for some depth. It might be that our pastors only ever hear from people who don't want to go deeper in their faith; so we can be a positive force in saying, hey, there are some of us who really have this desire to do something significant with our meetings. Bring on the study of whole books of the Bible. Let's have evangelism classes. Help us advocate for the Gospel in our community.
Second, we can be the solution and do some things ourselves. Maybe the church doesn't have room for a more in-depth, discipleship based group. So those of us who are concerned about that sort of thing can group together and start our own meetings in our own homes. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop complaining and actually be part of the solution.
Third, we can be thirsty for more. Maybe the problem is also something that we struggle with ourselves; we'd like to go deeper, but our church isn't giving us any direction. In that case, maybe the thing to do is to listen to podcasts from great teachers like Mark Driscoll or John Piper, or go through the Bible one book at a time using one of the commentaries at found here, or start learning how to explain Jesus to non-Christians using something like LeeStrobel.com.
Look, this post could be about all the reasons why most of our church programs don't measure up. But that's a familiar theme. The real point is that, if that's the case, we should do something. So do something. That's today's call from this little Voice in the internet wilderness.
"Perhaps we've settled for entertaining rather than developing followers of Jesus.
Of course there's nothing wrong with pizza and video games. The real problem is when they displace spiritual formation and teaching the Bible. And ultimately that's the greatest danger of being overly reliant on an entertainment model. It's not just that we can't compete with the world's amusements. It's not only that we get locked into a cycle of serving up ever-increasing measures of fun. Rather it's that we're distracted from doing the real work of youth ministry—fostering robust faith.
Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, liked to say, "It's a sin to bore a kid with the gospel." A generation later, that philosophy morphed into an entertainment based gospel that has actually produced entertainment numbness and an avoidance of the gospel's harder teachings. Somehow we thought we could sweeten the gospel message for young people to make it easier for them to swallow, but it turns out that they're choking on our concoction."
-Drew Dyck, The Red Bull Gospel