We Need More Christian Education (Part 1)
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
The typical thought pattern among Christianity for the last few hundred years is to have an educated clergy/pastoral group that can facilitate the spiritual growth of a church members. While the leadership of a church still serves this function, the traditional model has slowly diverged from its original intent as it relates to Christian education (in most churches, but not all). We should reconsider the way we approach Christian education.
Many theological and seminary schools have one or more of the following characteristics. They: 1) are too expensive for the average individual to afford; 2) are too far away for a person to uproot; 3) require too much time for the average person to work and still attend; 4) no longer teach sound doctrine.
These factors often discourage the average Christian from pursuing deeper studies. I am proposing a different strategy for the Body of Christ to adopt. Instead of looking to monolithic institutions of higher learning as the sole provider of Christian education – some institutions still have value – the local church should view itself as the first institution of higher learning. This means that every believer should take it upon himself/herself to study the Bible deeper than ever before.
In other words, I am calling for an educated priesthood composed of all believers.
Does this mean there are still Pastors – YES! Evangelists? YES! – Other church officers? – YES! This proposal simply means that the average church attendee is very educated about the Bible and does not simply leave deeper study to someone else to do for them. By focusing so much on monolithic institutions, we have essentially recreated a system which mirrors the Old Covenant system (a chosen priesthood and then ‘everyone else’). It also has allowed satan to infiltrate these institutions with false doctrine and compromise so that the clergy, who the individual believer looks toward, passes on poor teachings to the flock (Ezekiel 34 depicts this kind of issue). Church has thus become more like a business than a living organism.
One of the problems in modern Christianity is that we have allowed our culture to slowly redefine our approach to church gatherings. Too often, we treat church as a place to be entertained or a social club. The new thought process I propose requires that we view church gatherings as a time of fellowship with God and other like-minded believers (which are great things) – but also as a time to be trained to serve our God throughout the other days of the week.
We must view our study of the Word of God as one of the ways that our relationship with God grows – and not just something a select few seek out on their own. We must learn to view it as necessary, and not optional!
This requires that each of us – individual believers – come with hungry hearts to learn. This also means that our church leadership – Pastors, Evangelists, etc. – cannot be afraid to delve into subjects that are considered ‘too deep’ or ‘controversial’ – such as Bible prophecy. We have become so afraid of touching subjects because of past abuse of those subjects or false doctrines.
We also cannot be afraid of going deep even in basic subjects such as the Sabbath or Holy Days. This will require longer sermons, multiple sermons, or extra Bible studies. Due to various difficulties involving distance or time constraints with the meeting facility, a church may need to offer online and/or paper correspondence courses (that can be picked up during routine Sabbath services). Have follow ups with those who choose correspondence courses.
God calls people according to His will – but many who have been called to ministry have been discouraged by various factors. When every believer is properly educated, then they have received a high degree of preparation when God calls them and whatever God calls them to do for His Kingdom!
The spiritual forefathers who went before us, such as the Paulicians, were known for their knowledge of the Bible and their ability to constantly quote it. While you may not measure up to that high standard right now – but by the grace of God YOU CAN!
In the next article, we will look at practical ways the local church can equip itself to become an institution of higher learning.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org