We Need a Word Revolution!

There was a time when the church was very conservative in our expression of worship; today, spontaneous, lively, expressive and Spirit-led worship can be found in so many local churches. And it is indeed a wonderful thing! You will also find churches with traditional adult services permitting young people to have their own vibrant contemporary worship services! There has been so much interest in developing and revolutionizing worship that getting believers to engage in passionate worship is no longer a challenge as it used to be. Glory to God!

Now, what we need today is a different kind of revolution – the revolution of the Word of God! While general literacy has made quantum leaps in recent decades and most Christians in a modern city like Singapore are way more educated than Christians in the past, say 30 or 40 years ago, yet Bible literacy is embarrassingly low! In his article, The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches (published July 6, 2015 in Christianity Today), Ed Steyzer said, “Christians claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word. We claim it’s God’s divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren’t reading it. 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.”

In my observation (and I do hope I’m wrong), I suspect the statistics here in Singapore are not far different from the US. Just look at current trends: more worship events, more leadership conferences and more supernatural gatherings held in our country compared to events that actually teach the Bible. In fact, I wonder how many and who would attend a conference on how to interpret the Bible compared to a Hillsong Conference or Kingdom Invasion Conference for instance? (I’m not saying the latter two conferences are no good, they are good – I’m just making a point here about the degrees of interest and how worrying it could be.) Since early 2000 till now, I have often heard young people asking to hold worship events or worship nights without sermons. They say, “Pastor, we just want to worship!” Since when was preaching the Word and listening attentively to it no longer an expression of worship?? 🤔Many cell groups spend more time socializing, sharing personal prayer concerns and struggles than digging into the Word. (If your cell group is not like that – praise the Lord! And if your CG is all study with no community and sharing of lives and personal struggles, that’s a problem too!) Have we not considered maybe if we have a deeper understanding of the Word, knew God better through His Word, apply His Word and walk by faith, we would have fewer problems, struggles and crises? There are many more examples but I won’t belabor the point, I think you get the idea. And this is why we need a Word Revolution today!

“I Didn’t Learn Much Growing Up In My Mainline Church!”

I’ve heard several testimonies of young adults saying how they didn’t learn much about the Christian faith in the mainline churches they grew up in – such as the Anglican or Methodist church. And now that they are in XYZ Church, they have learned so much about the Word and their faith has grown. While I think some of these criticisms of mainline churches may be misled or even unfair because it gives the impression that all mainline churches have lousy discipleship programmes which is certainly untrue, yet at the same time, I think there is some validity to what is being said. Maybe not every young adult who grew up in mainline churches feel this way, but a good number of them do and because they do, it is therefore well worth our time asking ourselves a few hard questions such as “is our Sunday School effective in teaching the Word of God or are we just telling Bible stories?”, “is our youth ministry effective in teaching the Word to establish faith in young people or are we relying too much on emotionally-charged passionate worship and sermons?”, “are our Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, ministry staff and age-group ministries pastors properly equipped for the work of building faith in the next generation – and faith must be founded on the Word of God, are they able to teach the Word of God faithfully and properly?”, “what are our children’s and youth ministry staff busy with mostly – organizing activities or preparing to teach the Word? related question: what degree of importance is given to the preparation and teaching of the Word? how much time is given to it?” The future of the church rests in the hands of the next generation, thus our careful attention to the discipleship process is of utmost importance. (Just to add and clarify: true faith in God is not only about an inner spiritual formation and growth but an outward expression in love and ministry so that the gospel may be made known throughout the world.)