Jen Wilkin is a gifted Bible teacher out of Dallas, Texas. Our women’s ministry recently walked through her Sermon on the Mount study. She has a passion for teaching the Bible, and for helping churches see the need for verse-by-verse studies (as opposed to only offering topical studies on subjects like marriage, parenting, money, how to be content, etc.).
Recently she wrote an article in Christianity Today on the need for churches to be clear when it comes to the kinds of classes they are and are not offering. I thought it was helpful.
“In the South, our beverage vocabulary can be confusing to those from other regions. When we offer you a Coke, we are asking if you’d like a soda of any kind. And when we offer you tea, we do not mean Earl Gray in a mug. We will assume that you understand this implicitly. As a Southerner with Northern relatives, I can affirm that many a family gathering could have been saved from such confusion by a simple clarification of terms.
Using a term too generally can cause greater misunderstanding than simply serving someone the wrong drink. Take, for example, the term “Bible study” as it is often used in the local church. On the typical church website, it’s not uncommon to find classes on marriage, finances, parenting, prayer, and books of the Bible all listed as “Bible studies.”
In these gatherings, good things happen. People connect to one another in community. They share needs, confess sins, and explore topics through the lens of Scripture. But not all of these classes are Bible studies…
“The evidence of this trend is everywhere, from church websites to the bestseller section in the Christian bookstore. Not many Christians are clamoring for the release of a line-by-line study of Deuteronomy, but a book on how the Bible addresses body image or another hot topic flies off the shelves.
“Topical studies, devotional groups, and book discussions are beneficial, but not foundational. The church serves its members well by offering learning environments dedicated to opening the Bible and exploring it one passage at a time, one book at a time. Such classes build the Bible literacy today’s Christians so desperately need by passing down the skills to observe, interpret, and apply the text.”
You can find the entire article here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/march/stop-calling-everything-bible-study.html?start=1. You may have to subscribe to access all of it.