Nov 9, 2012

The Bible: We Don’t Teach it—Duh?

Recently, in a church meeting here at FUMC of Arlington someone remarked: “The trouble with the Methodist church is they don’t teach the Bible.” Apart from the disturbing use of “they” by one of “our” church members was the fact that this person did not have his/her facts correct in any event. We study the Bible around here all the time. I will give you some examples:

We have what is called “Immersion Bible Study”—recently expanded to two sessions—a morning and evening session on Wednesdays. This is an in-depth study of each book of the Bible with excellent resources that help participants apply the information to their daily lives. We have studied Matthew, Mark and John, Romans, Genesis and Psalms. The groups will begin a study on Luke and then Acts in January.

In addition, there is also an early morning men’s study group that meets at 6 am each Wednesday and a women’s group that meets at 10 on Wednesday mornings. Recently, we added an additional women’s group meeting in the evening.

On Thursday night we have two Bible study groups. One alternates between Disciple Bible Study and Bible studies on seasonal topics such as Advent and Lent. The other group began as a Beginnings study group to introduce people to Methodism and Bible study. They are now doing Bible studies based on Adam Hamilton’s Bible study guides.

The Disciple Bible study that Larry Thomas leads on Sunday afternoons is always full.

Many of our Adult Sunday school classes use either the International Bible Series, or short term Bible studies by authors such as Adam Hamilton, J. Ellsworth Kalas, and James Moore.

Our youth ministry is based on biblical lessons both on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.

Our children’s ministry uses scripture as a basis for its Sunday morning lessons as well as the Wednesday evening Kids in Mission. Way of the Child is also scripture based and closes each Sunday evening’s session with a meditation on a story from the Bible.

All ministries of this church—prayer, mission, caring, and evangelism, etc.—are performed as a response to action inspired by God’s word as experienced through the study of the scriptures.

Last of all, I teach a Lectionary Bible Study on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 to 7:00 in the Banquet Room which is always comfortably full of United Methodist people who are actually studying the Bible. This particular study provides an in-depth study of the scripture texts that we use on the following Sunday in worship. This study runs roughly concurrent with the public school year.

So . . . for a church that does not “teach the Bible,” I would like to suggest we are doing quite a bit of it and at a pretty high level. Like my old daddy used to ask: “Why let a few facts stand in the way of a good story?”

PS: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge” (Job 38:2)?


Jerrilyn said...

Maybe the real question should be why all of us aren't taking it upon ourselves to study the Bible. There are plenty of Bible translations around with commentary & study guides galore. With the internet these days, it's even easier. I have participated in many of the studies you named at our church & have also chosen to participate in a local Bible Study Fellowship group for the past several years. Currently I also participate in the Questers study group which meets once a month on Sunday nights.

Complaining about another person's or organization's perceived shortcomings is easy. Actually looking ourselves in the mirror & taking the steps necessary to be responsible for our own growth is tough. Reminds me of politics actually...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there is the distinct possibility that the person uttering this meant to say I instead of They. It seems to be harder to make some of the people happy some of the time much less all of the people all of the time. I have visited churches that practically beat you to death with the bible but still struggle to explain much of it in a manner I can easily understand. As for FUMCA I have learned more of the bible in a few years than I have in the last 15 or so years of trying on my own. If someone is having trouble hearing the verses of the bible being read in our church I am sure we can adjust the volume to compensate. As my wife would say.......Oh Brother!!

L Meng

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