If you didn’t, do you know that you’re likely in the majority among evangelical Christians?
I often speak with pastor friends of mine, and almost every one of them has confessed/complained about dealing with the one common problem in their congregations — scant attendance at weekly Bible study (usually on Wednesday nights) and Sunday morning Sunday school.
Certainly it’s not the case everywhere, but, generally, fewer than half those attending Sunday morning worship service can be expected at Wednesday night Bible study.
Why do so many believers neglect opportunities to learn and grow in biblical understanding?
These two meetings — Sunday school and Bible study — are more important than just keeping the pastor happy.
A Christian’s spiritual growth is the direct product of how much time she spends studying the word of God and how consistently she applies those lessons to her everyday life.
The Bible encourages believers to grow from drinking milk to eating meat, the same way a growing baby is weaned from a bottle. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Jesus, himself, said “learn of me.” (Matt. 11:29)
Most Christians will say nothing’s more important than their relationship with God. Why, then, wouldn’t we take every opportunity to strengthen that relationship?
It reminds me of college.
When I skipped classes in college, it was almost never for a good reason. I was usually shooting pool in the break room, playing basketball at the gym or just hanging out with friends.
In a word — I was being selfish.
I never got in trouble for skipping classes, but it sure made it harder to pass tests.
I wasn’t concerned about being good in that particular field of study, and, therefore, I dismissed the importance of attending class.
The mentality was: I know enough to get by and, besides, I got better things to do.
Unfortunately, the attitude is the same for many Christians when it comes to studying the Bible, whether at home alone or weekly as a congregation.
We don’t value spiritual growth.
Your pastor doesn’t expect everyone to know what exegesis is, or to be able to write an essay on what Jonathan Edwards thought about predestination, or speak extensively on the concept of cities of refuge or propitiation.
But it embarrasses your pastor when you can’t turn to books of the Bible, or name more than two or three books in order, or know whether a book is in the Old or New Testament.
Many believers can’t name all 10 of the commandments. And many of those who can usually can’t name them in order.
That level of understanding only comes from spending time with the Bible.
Either we believe God’s word has the answers we need or we don’t.
You won’t get in trouble for skipping Bible study and Sunday school, but it sure makes it harder to pass life’s tests.
Managing Editor Anthony Cook is the pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church. Reach him at email@example.com or 256-235-3558.