Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Purpose Driven Alternative

It is no secret that I am an open, out-of-the-closet, self proclaimed and dedicated RESISTER of all things that even slightly smell like PDL, PDC, CGM, Seeker Centered, Neo-evangelical or Emergent Church happycrap. And, as a result, I have been accused of being "harmful to the body,” "distrusting of leadership" “unsubmissive to pastoral authority,” “schismatic,” and “skeptical.” OK, no problem, I consider all those, badges of honor.

Someone asked me if I thought I should try to be less negative toward sincere, well-meaning pastors who are trying to make their churches more relevant. Would it not be more helpful or positive to locate or develop some biblically sound alternatives to the plethora of growth and discipleship programs offered by the church growth gurus.

My first response was “NO,” we don’t need any programs. But, I admit it, I WAS WRONG.

Pastor Gary Gilley has offered this sure-fire, God-ordained, and biblically sound plan in an article posted at his website at Southern View Chapel :

Believe it or not, there is an alternative to PDL and other such programs. It sounds simplistic and old fashioned but it has God’s stamp of approval. It is a return to the Bible. Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself.
In our local church we have dropped all commercial Sunday school curriculum -- which has been watered down to the point of uselessness and simply teach the Bible. Our 4-5 years old are being taught selected biblical stories. Ages 6-7 will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in those 2 years. Ages 8-9 will go through the Bible yet again. Ages 10-11 are being taught hermeneutics and Bible study methods and applying those methods to the study of the epistles. Ages 12-13 are taught Bible-college-level courses on systematic theology. High schoolers are taught straight Scripture with emphasis on biblical discernment. At this level many of them begin to teach children as well as their peers. All adult courses are focused on the study of Scripture, along with classes on church history, theology, and biblical living. All sermons are verse-by-verse expositions of the Word. Certainly our teachers use commentaries and Bible study aids but it is the Scriptures themselves that are studied.
I have found an amazing thing – when people are fed a steady diet of biblical truth they have little craving for cotton candy fads. Why would anyone trade in the fountain of life for cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13)? Of course many have and do, but the solution is not to crawl into the cistern, it is to showcase the fountain.

But this “return to the Bible” approach has one fatal problem – we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. If we do not believe that God’s Word is sufficient, then we will not showcase it. If we do not believe in the final authority of the Word then we will look for alternatives. What the church and the world need today are men and women of God who believe with all of their hearts in the sufficiency of His Word.
We need a church that is not ashamed of Christ “and His Word” (Luke 9:26); and who will boldly proclaim it from the housetops."

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