Dangerous Immunization 2

Syringe2Yesterday we were thinking about the danger of having non-Bible lovers teaching children and youth.  But there are other Bible ministry opportunities in the church:

Surely the home Bible study is a safe place for different folks to try their hand at leading?  Absolutely, it can be a very safe and loving environment as far as the trainee leader is concerned.  People will be reasonably forgiving toward them.  But turn it around.  What effect will their leadership have on others present?  I am not talking about polish and skill . . . this can be learned and people will be patient.  I am talking about core motivation for the Bible.  Out of the group who meet on that evening each week, don’t invite someone to try leading unless they have an evident personal appetite for the Word.  You might have a Bible college trained, capable presenter, experienced school teacher, well dressed and even charismatic person in the group who is showing motivation to lead the group.  But if that person lacks an evident hunger for God’s Word, don’t let them near the reins.  There may be another person who ticks far fewer boxes, but if they are not an immunizer, they might be the next Bible study leader to train up and launch.

There may be other venues that include “sharing a biblical thought.”  Perhaps a prayer gathering or a social event or whatever.  Make sure that every potential biblical communicator is a potent biblical communicator.  Having a wider group of people speak, even in a “safe” venue, is not worth it.  A good shepherd will not let some of the sheep be immunized so as to lose their appetite for healthy grass, no matter how small a group of sheep are involved, or how brief the immunization exposure might be.

Then there is the pulpit ministry of the church.  How many Sundays should a church knowingly tolerate pulpit ministry from people without a personal hunger for the Bible and the God of the Bible?  How many Sundays in a year is it ok to have dull, unhelpful, weak preaching?  I think once a year is too often.  For the visitor that comes that week, the effect could be lifelong.  Better to have a local with a passion for God and His Word than a visiting “expert” who dulls the hearts of the listeners.

I feel for the churches where there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can teach the children, the youth, the adults, with a delight in God and His Word.  But if that is your church, perhaps you are the key player.  Invite people to read through the Bible with you, pray for someone to get infected with the real disease.  Seek to infect someone and then see them grow into being a biblically infectious Bible study leader/teacher/preacher.  And at the same time do whatever you can to never let a non-Bible lover teach the Bible.  The cost is too high.

9 thoughts on “Dangerous Immunization 2

    • Isn’t that passage speaking about the use of diverse gifts among the community of believers? I’m not sure if the point of the post needs to be reconciled with that passage. We need to create environments where the body life can function as gifts are used for the benefit of each other. The point of these posts is that letting people present the Bible who aren’t Bible lovers is poisonous rather than beneficial to the group. This may be complementary rather than contradictory. Certainly open to other perspectives though! Thanks Mike.

  1. It seems to me that if a church adopts your approach of applying a very strong vetting as to who is allowed to bring one kind of contribution, it’s only consistent to apply it to other kinds. If you have a lot of people in your congregation who you don’t want “sharing a biblical thought”, would you want those people bringing “a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation”?

    • Good question, but the potential implications in the areas of other gifts doesn’t change my point about the critical importance of whether we let a poisonous dullness toward the Bible be transferred in Bible teaching.

      • So would your position be that you’d be equally cautious about allowing people to contribute in any of these ways?

        Do you prefer a positive vetting approach (no-one can make a contribution to the service unless they have been OK’d, presumably by the elders) or a negative approach (anyone can make a contribution unless they have been barred)?

        (I worry that my questioning might sound aggressive. Not my intent — I am just trying to understand exactly what you’re advocating.)

      • Quick response Mike – I am not advocating anything in respect to every member ministry of the gifts. I am advocating that those who select who can preach or teach a class or lead a housegroup should never let someone teach the Bible who doesn’t delight in it and the God revealed in it.

      • OK, then I probably misunderstood your original post. Certainly when we’re talking about giving people the platform — on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night — we should be selective!

  2. Peter, in this post you clearly say that the most important quality in a Bible Teacher is “a delight in God and His Word”.
    I see that in some churches the issue is not only that there doesn’t seem to be anyone with that delight, but that both teachers and listeners don’t recognize the importance of this quality. Sometimes other qualities (that I’d say are nearer to legalism than spirituality..) are the one who really makes a teacher appreciated and promoted by many.
    What would you suggest regarding to that?

    • 1. Prayer. 2. Find someone who will read through the Bible with you at a fast pace and get a taste for a relationship with God (rather than a religious commitment). 3. Seek to spread the “infection” of delight in God through read throughs, as well as when you preach. 4. Keep praying for some to get an appetite for God and His Word.

      A legalistic and fleshly self-oriented religion is hard to shift when it is gripping a church. I don’t think it is possible to grab power and force a change upon a church. But we have to believe that the Spirit is able to enliven some with a delight for Christ. He is the one who inclines hearts to God as the greatest good . . .

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