Summary: Christians and churches find themselves powerless because they suffer from Biblical illiteracy. Congregations lose their moorings and believers struggle to know what they believe – because they are not people of the Word. This overview will help you understand the problem of Biblical illiteracy and introduce the need for BNEXT Studies.
Pastors and churches across the country face significant challenges in mission and ministry in this changing culture.
Biblical illiteracy has become commonplace in the Church today. A 2005 study by the Barna Group asked Christians to rate their spiritual maturity based on activities such as service, worship, and evangelism. Respondents were most harsh in their self-appraisal of their Bible knowledge, with only 25 percent considering themselves not too mature or not mature at all. A 2004 Gallup survey found that a mere 37 percent of teenagers could find the quotation from the Sermon on the Mount when given four choices. Time magazine observed in a 2007 cover story that only half of U.S. adults were able to name one of the four Gospels.
This lack of knowledge about Scripture and its relevance for our lives today is weakening the very foundation of the church. Pastors struggle to know how to motivate their people to learn, and to come to love the Bible. Bill Hybels, pastor of 20,000 member Willow Creek Community Church, expressed his alarm at the results of a 2007 ministry effectiveness survey taken of his congregation. The survey revealed a spiritual hunger among those coming into the faith, but even more alarming, a spiritual stagnation for believers desiring to grow in their faith.
These studies demonstrate the overwhelming need for ministries that develop disciples through teaching, personal and small group Bible study, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines for each willing member of a congregation. The need for resources and tools to meet this spiritual hunger, and for spiritual nourishment of the pastors who are challenged in providing for the needs of their congregation, is clearly evident.
Professor Andrew Purvis, author of The Crucifixion of Ministry, writes about pastors and others in Christian leadership, “Many of us are professionally, spiritually and financially depressed … Excessive demands on time, conflicts within congregations and between ministers and members, loss of personal spiritual life, and loneliness, account for a deep malaise within our professional and personal lives.”
BNEXT seeks to meet the need of over-burdened ministers by providing resources that enable them to preach well-planned sermon series from the Scriptures that are directly tied to congregation-wide small group Bible discussions.