Bla Bla Bla
For much of America’s history, its culture has been influenced by the Church. But, according to Gallop poles taken from 1948 to 2017, the percentage of Protestant Americans has gradually declined form 69% to 38%. To add to lower attendance, Biblical literacy has also been on the decline within the Church.
Here is an excerpt from an article from Christianity today:
“A recent LifeWay Research study found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.”
Follow the link to read the full article: https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/july/epidemic-of-bible-illiteracy-in-our-churches.html
Because people have less and less exposure to all things Christian, there is less and less influence on our culture. With less influence, we have to expect that our culture has and will continue to become less and less familiar with Christianity as new generations enter the adult world.
There was a time when popular Bible stories like Noah’s Ark and Jesus calming a storm, or people like Zacchaeus and Abraham were very familiar to people. Theological concepts like sin and judgement or justification and holiness were concepts that people understood. Speaking from my own personal experience, I can tell you that any and all of those things, on average, are completely unknown to most 20 somethings today. This means communicating the Gospel the way our Parents did, such as sharing “the Roman’s Road” may not be the best method today.
Let’s take the first milestone verse in the “Romans Road” as an example.
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
Ask your average 20 something what glory means and they might be able to give you an answer. Ask what the Bible means by glory and I guarantee you’ll get nothing but a blank stare. So if they don’t know what the word means, why would we expect them to understand the verse, or any of the verses that come after it?
A good teacher has to know their audience. I have had opportunities to preach to people who speak English as a second language. Although they were Christians, our English theological words were lost on them since they only understood every day English, not Bible English. In the same way, the Bible terms we think people will understand are completely foreign to them, and unless we change, we will only confuse the people we’re trying to reach.
Sam’s two-part solution:
If we’re going to communicate the gospel to this generation:
- We have to identify words and concepts that are unique to the Bible and never assume an unbeliever or young believer knows them at all.
- We have to discipline ourselves to find alternative words for those that are unknown to unbelievers and find ways to help them understand theological concepts instead of assuming they already do.
A new generation is entering adulthood. They are taught that truth is relative, love is free and God is whatever makes you happy. They have little to zero exposure to the Bible and even if their Parents go to Church, the woke thing to do these days is to let your kids choose whether they go to church with you or not, so coming from a “Christian home” does not necessarily mean they've ever cracked a page of Scripture. The exciting part of all this, is that in the pursuit of being more understandable to this generation, we will also increase our own understanding. You might find that you knew less about those terms and concepts than you thought!