How Engaged Are We With Scripture?

So a couple of weeks ago, Bishop Cliff shared an interview he conducted with Lawson Murray of Scripture Union Canada.  The point of the interview was to encourage us towards greater Scripture engagement.  If you missed those Cliff’s Notes, the links are here:

By the way, if you want to receive Cliff’s Notes regularly you can.  Here is that link:

I bring this up not only to make a plug for my boss (you’re welcome Cliff!), but also because I don’t want us to move past this conversation too quickly.  This is a Church Health conversation.  Studies have shown that the number one catalyst in helping people deepen their relationship with God is regular Scriptural engagement.  No matter how old or young our faith is.  No matter how long or how short we have been part of the church.  We never outgrow our need to engage with God’s Word.

It seems however, that we aren’t engaging with God’s word as much as we should.  Part of my role is to work with churches to unpack the results from the Journey Discipleship Survey’s.  There are several emerging trends, but the most alarming for pastors and leaders are the lower than expected scores when it comes to this whole area of Scriptural engagement, even from folks who rate themselves as mature Christ followers.  We need to do better at this.  So here are some challenges for us all.

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  • Pastors. How are we helping our people engage with God’s Word?  It needs to go beyond putting some verses up on a screen on Sunday morning.  This should impact not only our preaching but the kinds of help we are developing for our churches.  I will ask it again…how are we helping our people regularly/daily interact with the Scripture? Do we offer or suggest Reading/ devotional plans? Are there Special learning opportunities? We need to have better answers.
  • Small Group leaders. Same question.  How are we helping the folks we are in community with engage in Scripture?  I know our Small Groups accomplish lots of different things – prayer, fellowship, service, etc,  but if we aren’t diving into God’s Word together and holding each other accountable for the application of it into our lives, we aren’t serving those in our group as well as we should be.  Books, videos and other curriculum are ok but they should lead us to opening our Bibles together.
  • Disciple makers and mentors. If Scripture is not a big part of what we are helping others discover as they grow, we are not helping them either.  This is a practice we can’t afford to skip over and those we work with can’t afford not to learn it.
  • Children’s Ministry leaders and workers, youth leaders and workers, and young adult leaders and workers. Same tune, next verse.  You have a great opportunity and privilege in your ministry.  Please don’t miss it.  I am all for fun but if that’s all we provide we are not stewarding what God has given us well at all.  And if we can find ways to help parents engage with their kids and youth as well, we are being most helpful.  Which brings us to…
  • Parents. You have a tremendous God given privilege and that is to help your child engage with God’s Word and develop a lifelong love for it.  Do they see you engaging with God’s Word?  Are you talking with them about what they are reading and learning?  And are you engaging with them through reading with them or family devotions or something?  If not you need to be and if you are please continue.
  • All of us. How are we doing with regularly reading and meditating on God’s Word?  How about applying it?  Who holds us accountable for all of this?  With whom do we discuss what we are learning and wrestling with?  We all should have good answers to these questions.

Please understand that my point is to not make us all feel guilty.  But this matters.  Let’s help each other get better at this.

Marc McAlister

Leadership Development Director, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.