Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Evangelicals make the worst Bible readers in UK churches

[...] Almost a quarter of evangelicals, 23 per cent, go to church twice a week which is something that only 15 per cent of non-evangelicals do. It might therefore be expected that evangelicals would be especially strong in Bible reading as they profess to follow the Scriptures so closely. But this is their greatest weakness (of the factors measured in the Census) – in only 24 per cent of mainstream evangelical churches do people read the Bible at least once a week outside church and 25 per cent in charismatic evangelical churches, against 27 per cent for churches generally and 42 per cent in Broad churches and 32 per cent in liberal churches! Read more

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4 comments:

Daniel Roe (Croydon) said...

Q
I didn't realise that evangelicals were so uninterested in the Bible - I mean I was aware that people don't read the Bible as much as they should and we were having a discussion on PCC about how to get people engaged with the scriptures and Jo
A
Who?
Q
Joanne
A
Your Vicar - yes, I remember now - Deanery Synod - "Call me Jo" - but insisted on wearing a funny collar
Q
Well she thought that we need to make the Bible relevant. For example, young people are into soaps and reality TV and it's all there in the Bible - instead of a traditional sermon you could have a discussion about the latest storyline - I mean take David and Bathsheba for example
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Where to?
Q
Er
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Where are you going to take them? Joke
Q
Actually Jo was being serious - if you look at 2 Samuel 11 through 19, you can see issues of love, betrayal, broken relationships and the fall out for the kids - kids in rebellion - exactly what you see in contemporary story lines - one of the young people thought that the Bible readings themselves could be done as a kind of drama, but in contemporary dress and contemporary names - in fact a kind of soap. People wouldn't realise that it was from the Bible, so they wouldn't switch off - the 'punch line', if you will, comes in the sermon slot - after a lively discussion, Jo or someone reveals that this is a Bible story - and yes, the Bible is relevant
A
Brilliant - I wonder why God never thought of it - er, seriously, however - how did it go?
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It didn't - there was a lot of aggro on the PCC
A
The victorMildew tendency
Q
The what?
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The elder statesmen, er, statespersons, PCC members with years of experience
Q
And Jo and the young people were very disappointed - I mean they and the youth leadership had some very exciting and creative ideas - and I know this isn't your scene, but as both are parishes are evangelical, I would have thought we'd at least be agreed on making the Bible relevant
A
An impossible task - because the Bible is irrelevant, as is demonstrated by the gulf between evangelical profession and evangelical practice - if it looks like a duck and quacks it must be - a squirrel - coz SCRIPTURE sez it's squirrel, innit. I mean c'mon, think about it, the preacher is expounding the apostle's agenda for the church as set out in the epistle, but people aren't taking in because it seems so irrelevant and disconnected with teh modern way of doingChurch - in short, the preaching is drowned by a slow and steady quackQuackQuack
Q
Or depending on your denomination or tradition, your particular 'squirrel' honks or coos
A
Got it in one - I mean shamelessly proclaiming a reformed ecclesiology while happily wallowing in unreformed tradition. It's not that young people, aye, and people in general find the Bible irrelevant, so much as they can see that the preacher finds it irrelevant
Q
So when Jo is trying to get everyone involved in the ministry of the church by appealing to the Bible view that we are all priests, she stands at the front in clerical robes and collar
A
Hey, supposing you needed a youth worker or worship leader / music director - what do you do?
Q
I suppose we could hire someone or perhaps get gifted people from the congregation
A
If you needed a new curate, would the same principle apply?
Q
I suppose we'd have to ask the diocese
A
Aha
Q
Well there are rules - I mean for a start, once priested, a curate is authorised to lead communion, and anyway it is the diocese that funds clergy and he who pays the piper calls the tune
A
But if you could afford a youth worker, you could afford to hire your own curate
Q
But you don't - I mean, there are rules and procedures for running the Church
A
Which are obviously different from what went on in the New Testament - hence the utter irrelevance of the New Testament (and those silly and boring diagrams and maps of missionary journeys) - and of course, the Old - I mean we don't need detailed instructions about sacrificing sheep and goats these days.
Q
Well the Old has been superseded by the New - doesn't it explain things somewhere in Hebrews?
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Which, be honest, is hardly every read, let alone, preached on
Q
Speak for your own parish - Jo did a series on heroes of the faith and that was straight from Hebrews 11
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Matthew 13 verse 44
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No, Hebrews 11
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No, I was talking about the method - dive straight into Hebrews 11 and ignoring the boring or irrelevant preceding chapters - Matthew 13 verse 44 is about the pearl hidden in a field - the pearl is God's Word and the field is the Bible
Q
You are then suggesting the Bible is dross and the preacher sifts through it to get God's Word
A
Got it in one - the Bible isn't God's word, it simply contains God's Word - the canon within a canon - imagine a Bible made up of the verses that make up our readings and the verses that actually get preached on
Q
It would be a thin book, but then be fair, how much time do you get on Sunday morning to read the Bible
A
OK - compare how much time is spent on reading with say how much time is spent on worship - 30 minutes of songs and 2 minutes of reading.
Q
I admit that more time is spent on worship, but then how many people would want listen to a 10 minute Bible reading? I mean, with all due respect, people aren't very good at reading - and well, I guess songs are more interesting.
A
That's because anyone can volunteer to read - people don't often get trained to read, and they don't always understand what they are reading. Organists and worship leaders, however, don't get appointed unless they are reasonably competent - and you don't get to join the band unless you can sing or play - and every week there is a practice
Q
So you are implying that we take the music more seriously than the Bible
A
Yes - and this is reinforced by the idea of devotional notes - portion cotrol, if you will - bitesize readings taken at apparent random with 'relevant' comment - I suppose the Truth is so precious it has to used sparingly - taken in small doses - economy with the Truth - I mean you could go on - I mean, the Bible says the world was created in six days, and the Apostle doesn't approve of ladies in authority
Q
Well, let's be fair, there are differences in interpretation
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And isn't it funny how everyone's interpretation seems to fit in with their denomination or tradition's worldview - scripture is not only irrelevant but it is superfluous
Q
I can see liberals might argue parts of the Bible are wrong, but evangelicals
A
Evangelicals, at least those like Jo, have the same worldview as liberals, but being evangelical they don't have the honest liberal option of not believing - they simply contort, sorry, interpret Scripture to fit the current worldview - more often then not they simply ignore certain passages
Q
Effectively discard them
A
Those parts of scripture that don't conform to accepted wisdom are discarded
Q
And those that do?
A
They are superfluous I mean, c'mon, you don't need the Bible to tell you not to steal - discard the Bible and live by accepted wisdom - actually it's accepted wisdom that holds the Bible together - we've effective thrown so much away that what remains doesn't make sense without some external reference point - for example denominational tradition - and Matthew 7:20
Q
Matthew 7:20?
A
Fruit - what fruit has the Bible produced? A divided and confused church
Q
Surely it's the way the Bible has been taught
A
And people are surprised that the Bible isn't being read

Timothy Edwards said...

"compare how much time is spent on reading [the Bible] with say how much time is spent on worship" ...

ummm, since when was reading the Bible (and sitting under the preaching thereof) not worship?

And, besides, surely when we sing we are at least singing the 150 psalms? Don't we? (Okay, point taken ...)

Revd John P Richardson said...

Timothy gives his location as East London over here.

Daniel Roe (Croydon) said...

Apologies - I should have put 'worship' in quotes - 'worship' and 'music' are apparently synonymous in some circles