When Bible Studies Make You Cringe

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

“I want to start a community group,” I said. “There are still a lot of people in need, and starting a support group seems appropriate.”

“I have some literature that could help you,” the pastor replied. “Want me to send it?” I agreed, with the promised literature arriving in my inbox moments later. I began to look through it.

That’s when I cringed: it was all related to starting a Bible-study group. 

I didn’t have a problem with the subject (obviously), and I certainly had no problem with the structure. It was simple, straightforward, and easy to implement.

Nonetheless, I cringed. I cringed for the single mother, the depressed college student, the struggling addict, the abused believer, and many more examples. Even if I could gather enough people to form a group, these people would likely not come back.

And if you don’t understand why this would happen, then this post is for you.

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Preaching Without Words

Not too long ago, a preacher stood in front of his congregation and gave the following quote attributed to Francis of Assisi:

“Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.”

He followed this with saying it was the dumbest quote he ever heard. He went on to say that it is by our words that we are known as Christians, and it is by our words that people know what we believe. He then exhorted his small congregation to preach with words, and to preach often.

I understand why he said it. To be a preacher is to be known for one’s words above all else. Many are critiqued based on the speeches they deliver each Sunday. If a pastor or preacher is not ready, both in and out of season, to serve words that encourage, teach, admonish, rebuke, edify, etc, then (s)he is not being true to his/her calling. Writers are often in the same situation, struggling to find the precise words benefiting as many people as possible. 

Nevertheless, I disagreed. Many of us are not preachers, just as many of us are not called to be writers, myself included (if you like what I write, it’s my second best talent; my best is doing what I write about). 

How are we supposed to communicate what we believe and what we stand for if we have neither the words or the opportunity to say it? 

Francis not only expressed a pearl of wisdom, he demonstrated it by using as few words as possible. 

And in many situations, words only get in the way. 

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I disagree

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

“I disagree” 

You could have heard a pin drop. “You disagree with what the Bible says?” a member of our group asked.

“On this matter, yes,” I replied. “I think Paul’s teaching concerning the roles of men and women in the church were appropriate for that time. Enforcing the equality he taught in Galatians would have only created more controversy, and they already had enough of that, considering how counter-cultural Christianity was at that time. I think Paul didn’t want to distract from the Gospel.”

“However,” I continued, “I think we live in a different time. Our society has different cultural and social values than back then. Women have assumed bigger roles, and are proven capable. If we focus on trying to uphold a tradition, we make the same mistake that Paul was trying to avoid.”

Everybody in the room shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Something sacrilegious had been said, but nobody wanted to confront me about it.

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A World of Worshippers

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The most important question whenever I meet someone is “What do you worship?”

It’s an unspoken question, even though the answer would tell me much. It’s often not worth asking because few seem to be capable of giving an answer. Many would respond with “I’m not religious.” For them, the word “worship” is related to religious worship and, since they are not religious, they don’t relate to those who call themselves “worshippers”. 

What they don’t realize is that worship is not necessarily related to religion or a deity. 

Truth is, everyone worships something or someone. The only question is the object of worship.

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