Thursday, June 2, 2011


I wonder how many people who regularly attend church have a basic "working knowledge" of the Old Testament stories in the Bible?  I have a hunch...that number is diminishing...

I am not talking about an all out proficiency and expertise in being able to rehearse the stories in vivid detail at a moments notice.  I am talking about a basic understanding of the narratives in the Old Testament and their relevance.

All of this has got me thinking about the people around me who have been a part of the church all of their life. I wonder if there is an imperceptible biblical illiteracy slowly creeping into the church?

Last night I received an interesting article entitled, "Squaring Off with Biblical Illiteracy: 7 Bricks for a Solid Foundation" by Mark Steiner. In the brief article he addresses my suspicion that there is a drifting that could lead the church adrift unless we recover the lost stories in the arc of Scripture.

With clarity, I remember the family Bible Story book from my childhood. I recall hearing the stories and seeing the pictures of characters from the pages of Scripture. I remember hearing the stories on vinyl 33's played on the hi-fi. I remember hot Sunday School classrooms and teachers using flannel-graph to communicate the stories.

I remember with fondness reading the stories to my kids from "The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes" by Kenneth Taylor.

I am not traveling down "memory lane" for the purpose of recalling the "good old days" rather I am thinking about the future of the church and her mission in the world. I am asking myself hard questions about my role in communicating these stories in compelling ways so that future generations will be able to tell them in relevant ways.

Mark Steiner writing in his article says,  

"20 years from now, the churches across 
America that pulsate with life and show signs 
of vibrant health will be those that address 
the crisis of biblical illiteracy. Churches with 
anemia or those that have collapsed will be among
those that have failed to come to grips 
with this issue."

In preparation for a series of messages, I have been exploring lists of "core" Old Testament Bible Stories that every person should be familiar with.  I though it would be an easier task.  But there are a lot of stories embedded in God's Story that have not surfaced in my preaching and teaching recently. Stories many have relegated to the bin of irrelevance or improbability.

So, I am going to begin a series this summer that will unwrap these "core" stories. I am not doing this series because I can't think of anything else to do. I am going to be intentional. I am going to be patient. I am going to be be a storyteller rehearsing the Great Story of God over the next several months. It is with great joy and anticipation that I embark on this "story-journey."

By the way...what Old Testament stories do you think should be included in the series?


adele said...

Ken Ham follows a similar train of thought in his book, Already Gone. He adds that not only are we failing to teach them, we're making them "stories" which are very separate from science or reality. I'd have a hard time picking 20! But I think the Genesis stories up to Noah are critical for young people facing present day scientific theories in school.

Michael Karnes said...

First thought that hits about this artical...Childern are the future, and we are all children of God.
As parents are we teaching our children and as a church are teaching all our children?
As to stories from the old teastiment, all of them! They all help build the foundation.