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Clarifying Thoughts on My Church

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 10 May 2007

in Biblical Studies, Ministry

I realize that yesterday’s post “Mars Hill Church, the ESV, and My Own Church” might have ruffled the feathers of my FCC readers. Allow me to explain further what’s going on here…

I am a Bible-centered guy. This shouldn’t be surprising given my background. I like the Bible. I believe the Bible is God’s revelation. Ultimately, we have two sources for connecting to God: (a) Bible, (b) Prayer.

When I look at FCC, my church, I see a whole lot of (b) and not a lot of (a) going on.

“Stephen, how can you say that?”

I was sitting in Starbuck’s with a group of dudes this week, and we all kind of came to the realization together that there is no Bible study at FCC that we can be a part of. There is a women’s Bible study on Wednesday mornings (and Tuesday nights, I think)—but, I don’t know much about that…since I’m a dude. There is a men’s “Bible” study on Wednesday mornings. However, the 5 or 6 times I went to that, I didn’t see much “Bible.”

Look, I don’t say any of this to create divisiveness or to try to tear things apart. FCC is my church. I intend to continue going there. I just feel like some things could be better.

“Ok, Stephen, what are you doing about it?”

I’m glad you asked.

Every Tuesday night we have the College/Young Adult Gathering. Yes, it’s a fantastically creative name. Essentially, this is a group started by outgoing FCC High School Pastor Loren Jones. Currently, it meets at Loren’s house, but it will soon be changing location as Loren is leaving to plant a church.

A couple of months ago, Loren asked me if I would start doing some teaching there. I agreed. We’ve been working our way, slowly but surely, through Romans. It’s been good…I think. People keep coming back.

At any rate, it’s a real Bible study. We read the text and talk about it. Because I’m a dork and have a lot of knowledge about historical context and Greek and silly stuff like that, I share some of that with the group. Then they share their thoughts on the text. It’s very much a discussion, and I can honestly use the hackneyed phrase: “I learn as much from the them as they do from me.”

The beauty in all of this is that we’re wrestling with it together. The Bible is a difficult book to understand. There are so many different ways to approach it. By doing it together, we can get at more than one approach…more than one interpretation. This is exactly why I have trouble with The Message as a translation—it’s one guy’s view on what the text means. Other translations (such as the ESV) are done by committee—multiple brains hitting the text and agreeing on a compromise.

Analogy: When I write a paper, I don’t pick up just one commentary and go with whatever that writer thinks. I pick up a bunch of commentaries and go with what I think is the best idea.

OK…that got a bit tangential…apologies. You wanted to know what I was doing about it, so I told you.

What’s Next?

I strongly believe that no church is perfect. Churches are full of broken people, and broken people do broken things.

However, we can always look at things and say: “How can we do that better?” I believe it’s time for many churches to look at their biblical curriculum and say: “How can we do that better?” So, this is where I open it up to you. I’m inviting your input here. I’d love to know about your experiences with Bible study at your church (whether it’s FCC, Mars Hill, or whatever else…doesn’t matter).

Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Am I hungry for the Bible? Why or why not? What is my attitude toward the Bible?
  • Does my church really offer Bible study?
  • What does that Bible study look like? Is it text-based or topic-based? Which would I prefer?
  • How can I help?

I look forward to your input!

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