About Those Sunday School Quarterlies
InterVarsity Press’s newly released Rediscovering Paul is, I am discovering, a happy addition to my very selective library. It contains so many gems I don’t know where to begin to list them. The very first page of the Introduction has this truthy nugget that ought to make every believer blush:
Some things Paul said did not fit well, but we were able to work it out. Usually I just ignored those statements. My own denomination helped. It printed Scripture passages in our Sunday school booklet (so we would not have to use our Bibles). The assigned passage might be 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, 12-26, nicely avoiding those troubling verses on tongues, healing and miracles (p. 13).
Every Sunday School class needs to think about this statement, and so should every church. There should be no excuse for people leaving their Bibles at home when they gather at church. The fact is, by providing people with these quarterlies, we are simply facilitating their neglect.
I know, someone will bring up the seven last words of the church: “We’ve never done it that way before.” Possibly many of our people don’t really want to dig deeply into the Scriptures anyway. Friends, we’ve got to be willing to forsake our traditions! The healthy church makes courageous decisions. The Scriptures cry out to be front and center, at the top and at the bottom of everything. The Bible is not something we consult when our Sunday School curriculum stumps us. Any church that does not understand this is doomed to ultimate enslavement to the mere words of men.
Our church meetings must deliberately revolve around Christ and His Word. Why resort to the flair of Madison Avenue when we can have the food of Divine Revelation? The Bible is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Only when we are rich in Him and in His Word will we richly nourish one another, which is why we gather in the first place (1 Cor. 14:26).
And let’s not forget: the money we save by taking Sunday School materials out of our budgets can be released to serve people who truly need it. (The same can be said for bulletins and glossy magazines.) God has a haunting love for the world. He loves people! Outsiders were always on Jesus’ heart. Clearly, one way we can be like Jesus is by generously parting with our “church” money for the great needs of the world.
In his book Stop the World, I Want to Get On (Glendale, CA: Regal, 1974), p. 66, C. Peter Wagner observes that “the rule of thumb for churches that have been fired with a vision for a lost world in need of Christ is a minimum of 50 percent of the church budget for missions. They spend at least as much on reaching others for Christ as they do on their own needs.” Can that be said of our churches?
A missions focus in our finances is not an option to be chosen but a commandment to be obeyed (Matt. 28:19-20)!
August 18, 2008
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.