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Bible Engagement Blog


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Bible Engagement Renewal

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg, started a schism in the Catholic Church when he sent a Theses (also nailed to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg) enclosed with a letter to Albert of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Mainz. The Theses propositions disputed the power of indulgences and effectively started the Reformation and the branch of Christianity known as ProtestanBruenig_Lucas_Cranach_imgtism.

Luther’s dispute with the Catholic Church included a belief in the Bible alone (rather than with sacred tradition) as the highest authority in matters of faith and practice (sola scriptura). So for most Protestants, and a Bible engagement advocate like myself, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is hugely significant.

While much could be said about the doctrines of sola scriptura, prima scriptura (Anglican, Methodist, Wesleyan), or the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Catholic), the purpose of this article is rather about how we desperately need a Bible engagement renewal.

Despite all that’s been accomplished down through the centuries to stress the primacy of God’s Word in the faith and practice of the Church, there’s a significant lack of emphasis on Bible engagement in many churches. Something’s lost that needs to be found. And to find what’s been lost we must begin with lamenting the weak state of Bible reading, reflecting, receiving, remembering and responding.

Someone once said that we “need to let the Bible accuse us.” The trouble is we’re not connecting with it in a way that opens the door for the Bible to show us where we’ve gone astray, and we don’t give it room to help us return to the place where it gets to have its way with us (because Bible engagement is essentially Jesus engagement, this statement should also be understood as Jesus getting to have His way with us through His Word ).

Through the course of history God breaks into the affairs of humanity to renew and restore us to Himself. Five-hundred years on from the last great renewal in Bible engagement we need the Lord to bring us alive to His Word again. There are no shortcuts to a Bible engagement renewal (unless God chooses otherwise). The process of renewal usually requires the following:

  • Recognize the need for a Bible engagement renewal. “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” Psalm 85:6.
  • Pursue a Bible engagement renewal personally. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” Psalm 51:1.
  • Seek forgiveness for personal and communal sin. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10.
  • Promise to follow the Lord and engage His Word with all your heart and soul and mind (cf. 2 Kings 23:3).
  • Act on the Word. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” James 1:22.

Now pray for a Bible engagement renewal; trusting God to usher in a much needed season of long term growth that will be marked by the strengthening of individuals and communities of faith as they connect with Jesus and His Story.

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5


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A Bible Engagement Church

While there are many church congregations that believe the Bible informs our faith and practice, there are very few Bible engagement churches. That’s not to say that the Bible isn’t read or preached in most churches, it usually is. But it is to say that Bible engagement hasn’t permeated every facet of local church ministry.

So what are the earmarks of a Bible engagement church? Here are ten suggestions:

  1. A Bible engagement church is a church where everything is aligned with Scripture, submitted to Scripture, and seen to be subservient to Scripture; in as much as when the Bible speaks, God speaks.
  2. A Bible engagement church models the priority of Bible engagement. The Bible is opened in the business meetings to inform the decision-making process, finances are disbursed according to the principles in God’s Word, weekly small groups study the Scriptures, and the church website, social media, bulletins, newsletters and PowerPoint announcements advocate for Bible engagement.
  3. A Bible engagement church is evidenced by the fact that everyone in the congregation knows that Bible engagement is a high priority. Ask an individual in a church what’s special about their church and if one of their top three answers is, “We value God’s Word,” then it’s possibly a Bible engagement church.
  4. A Bible engagement church fosters meaningful congregational participation and interaction with the Scriptures. It’s a disaster when, functionally speaking, a congregation thinks or acts as if Bible engagement is something reserved for the pastor, experts or professionals.
  5. A Bible engagement church is a community of faith where people line up their lives with the Word. In other words, they’re living epistles. On a 24/7 basis they’re striving (as the Holy Spirit empowers) to say and do what the Scriptures say they should say and do.
  6. A Bible engagement church intentionally integrates God’s Word into every aspect of the Sunday service. The Scriptures are read regularly and well, the content of the songs/hymns are biblically and theologically sound, the prayers are fueled by the Word, and the sermons consistently remind and reinforce the importance of connecting with the Word in order to connect with the One who is the Word.
  7. A Bible engagement church equips and teaches children, youth, adults and seniors how to engage with the Bible. Every person (all age groups) in the church has a Bible and a daily Bible reading guide. Bible engagement resources, curriculum and tools are incorporated and injected into every ministry, program or event in the church.
  8. A Bible engagement church incorporates the Scriptures fully into the discipleship and evangelism strategy of the church. Members of the congregation are taught how to personally listen, read, pray, interpret, contemplate, study, imagine, memorize, journal, apply and share God’s Word.
  9. A Bible engagement church has a pastor who preaches sermons that are Word-soaked, Spirit-inspired, and Christ-centred. The pastor finds ways to demonstrate that the Scripture text(s) for the sermon are more important than what will be said about the text(s). The preaching also takes seriously the oral and narrative nature of the Bible and incorporates sizeable readings of the Scripture.
  10. All told, a Bible engagement church makes Bible engagement central to the life of the church so that people live it out as part and parcel of everything they do together. A Bible engagement church is therefore one where the congregation have learnt how to let the Bible move; to be our voice in all the discussions we engage in, to be the main point in our preaching and teaching, to be the truth that we build our lives on, and to be the window through which we see Jesus.

Have your say. Is there something you’d add or subtract?

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5