There is an old saying that goes, “We are going to teach our way out of this problem.” Here is what he means.
Suppose you have a giving problem in your church. You are not meeting budget. You are not able to meet expenses. You have bills that are unpaid. You have cut back everywhere possible, but there are still bills to be paid.
More than that, there are missed opportunities. There are ministries to launch. There are needs that need to be met. The fields are white unto harvest if you could just get the money to buy the tractors. How do you solve this problem?
You could organize a campaign. You could hire a consultant. You could put up posters and send out letters. Those things may have their place. Bill Hybels would suggest you do something else: teach your way out of this problem. Whatever problems you have in your church, Effective Bible Teaching is a big part of the solution.
Perhaps the need is not so much money as volunteers. Every church I know could use an infusion of volunteers. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful; the workers are few. The bottleneck of the evangelistic / disciple-making process has always been and always will be workers.
Big churches need more workers. I had a man in a large church say to me once, “Do you have any idea how many workers you need to staff a Sunday School of 3500 people?”
Small churches need more workers. I pastor a very small church in the country. It is what we used to call a preaching point. Twenty or thirty people—mostly farmers—gather each week to worship and study the Word of God. Do you know what the need is at our small church?
And how do we get more workers? Jesus said the answer is prayer. (Matthew 9.37—38) I don’t take that to mean that we are to pray and do nothing else. I take it to mean that nothing else will matter until we pray. In the next breath, Jesus said, “Go! I am sending you out. . .” I see two things in that passage: pray and send out.
There is a third thing that will help: teach. Teach on the joy of serving. Teach on spiritual gifts. Teach on laying down your life. Teach on finding life by losing yourself in the service to others.
One way to implement this is to organize a church wide campaign where you coordinate three things around the theme you are trying to emphasize:
- Bible teaching in small groups
- Daily quiet time
The classic example of this is the Purpose Driven Life Campaign. It is a model of what can be done by organizing sermons, Bible teaching in small groups and daily quiet times around one theme. (By the way—I have on occasion helped churches with the Bible lessons in a campaign like this. Contact me if you are interested.) firstname.lastname@example.org
Does your church have a giving problem? Teach your way out of it.
Does your church have a lack of workers problem? Teach your way out of it.
Whatever problem your church faces, you would do well to follow the advice of Bill Hybels: teach your way out of it.
Let’s zoom back the lens. Think about the capital-C Church as a whole. Here are four problems we need to teach our way out of.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the lack of Bible knowledge both in and out of the church. I had a man say to me once: “Joseph. . . he had that coat of many colors, right?”
“And that was the father of Jesus?” We desperately need Effective Bible Teachers.
The Pew Research Center did a survey of basic knowledge of the Bible, Christianity, and world religions. Questions included naming the four gospels and whether or not the Golden Rule was one of the Ten Commandments. Curious thing about the results: atheists did better than church goers. To be fair, this was a survey of religious knowledge, not just Bible knowledge. Church goers did do better on the Bible questions. Everyone flunked.