Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I hope this new "fad" catches on!

David Platt is the 30 year old pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, a growing congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. He was recently interviewed by Collin Hansen in Christianity Today, and his remarks are very encouraging. It's obvious from his sermons and from this interview that Platt loves the Word of God, and that many young people are hungry for it.

Hansen: All good evangelicals affirm the centrality of the Word. Still, we have a severe problem of biblical illiteracy. How do we go from knowing the Word is important to knowing what the Word actually says?

Platt: [Churches] have severely dumbed down the Word, and shown a lack of trust in the sufficiency of the Word in the way we preach. We find it necessary to supplement it with entertaining stories and quips or good practical advice for living the Christian life that are not based in the Word. This deficiency transfers into people content with a little "Word for the Day," in a devotional book at best, as opposed to deep knowledge of Scripture.

We're trying to hit at the problem from a variety of angles at Brook Hills. First of all, in worship we're quoting the Word, singing the Word, and engaging in intensive study. We'll study 55 minutes to an hour. We try to really saturate the community of faith with the Word when we gather together.

I go to other places, such as house churches in Asia, and they study for 11 or 12 hours, knowing they risk their lives. They'll dive in deep. We came back and tried to do something similar here. We call it secret church and do it a couple times a year. We gather together for intensive study with no frills, nothing flashy, no entertainment value. The first time, about 1,000 showed up. We studied Old Testament overview from 6 p.m. to midnight, but usually it goes longer, supplemented by times in prayer for the persecuted church. It's all ages, but the predominant demographic is college students and young singles. It's grown to the point where we need to offer tickets at $5 for reservations and the cost of a study guide. We'll do it again in October with 2,500 folks. It's theological in nature. We've done a night on the Atonement, another on the doctrine of God. This time we're doing spiritual warfare. It's one of my favorite sights as a pastor to look out at 12:30 a.m. and see a room full of 2,500 people, their Bibles open, soaking it in.

Could this return to Scripture and doctrine, accompanied by prayer, be the beginning of a new revival in our day? How encouraging to see this young pastor of a growing church emphasize deep Bible study and exposition. As far as mega-church fads go, I hope this one catches on in more American churches!

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