18th August 2005
The Church of England Newspaper ran this story about the lack of Scripture reading in evangelical churches; here is an excerpt:
The hidden Bible – Mark Ireland asks why evangelists [sic; Evangelicals] are neglecting the Bible
By Mark Ireland
Have you ever noticed how the churches where you are least likely to hear the Bible being read are evangelical ones? One of the strange rules of thumb I’ve discovered, visiting many churches in my role as a diocesan missioner, is that the more evangelical the church is, the fewer verses of the Bible you are likely to hear read in worship. When I go to a church in the central or liberal tradition, I will always encounter two Bible readings. When I go to one of the catholic parishes in the diocese, I will usually hear four pieces of Scripture read – Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel – with the words printed out on the service sheet for the people to follow. However, when I visit an evangelical parish, I will usually hear only one passage of the Bible.
This observation is also borne out in my own experience. In many evangelical churches you are bound to hear more popular psychology with a Christian veneer from the pulpit than Scripture. The root of this is more than likely the desire to be relevant. Of course, does this suggest that the Bible is not relevant? Or that the Bible can’t be preached in such a way that would be accessible and relevant? Considering the high view of Scripture held by evangelicals, this is somewhat ironic. (What’s even more ironic is that many so-called “Bible Study” groups don’t actually study the Bible, but some Christian self-help book instead.)
Don’t get me wrong; I am an evangelical and I believe the church has to communicate the gospel in an effective way. I just don’t think neglecting the Bible is the best way to do this, IMHO.