The leadership in the local church is often made up of very incompetent people. I don’t mean incompetent in the sense that they can’t lead. I mean in their knowledge and understanding of theology in general and of the gospel in particular. The Bible says that the leaders in the church should be first and foremost able to teach. If you can’t teach the Bible, perform mature exegesis on a text or even struggle to find a book in the Bible, you shouldn’t lead. Yet, this happens all the time. I have a theory on how this happens.
The local church often runs programs that are designed to attract seekers. People come and are lead to Christ. They pray the sinner’s prayer and are introduced to church life. The original group of evangelists moves on to reach new people and the new believer is left mostly alone in the sea of church goers. There is rarely any follow-up. These people are left to themselves. New believers tend to be very excited about their new-found faith and they read their Bibles whenever they get a chance.
Time goes on and these new believers learn to walk the walk and talk the talk in the church. They learn some key concepts about how church life works. They learn stories from the gospels, they memorize a few verses from Paul’s epistles and they feel good about themselves. They listen to sermons, they go to prayer meetings and help out where they can. On the outside, it seems that they have it all figured out and their walk with Christ has been fruitful.
Once they have been in the church for some 30 years, they naturally gravitate towards leadership roles. They are nominated to serve on the deacon’s board or on the finance committee. Their sense of self-worth rises. They begin to think that since they made it to their new leadership role, they must be a really good Christian. After all, they have been in the church for over 30 years. They have been coming every Sunday, participated in programs and lots more.
However, they haven’t been under good Bible teaching. They haven’t read their Bibles in years because they’ve got it all figured out. They know all the stories and parables. They know the hymns and worship songs. But they don’t know basic Christian doctrine. They wouldn’t be able to explain to you the doctrine of sanctification, justification or redemption. They lack understanding of the divine economy.
Moreover, they haven’t walked with Christ and therefore lack the practical knowledge of his grace. They don’t pray on a daily basis to align their hearts with the will of God. They are proud and feel a strong sense of entitlement and deservedness. They don’t reflect on the depths of God and his royal magnificence. They are obsessed with legalism and rule-keeping. They think that if they were able to make this far, anyone can. They value tradition. Why change things if they have worked for so many years? They aren’t willing to learn because they know it all. They won’t come to basic Christianity classes because it would be boring for them.
The saddest thing about this reality is that we allow these unlearned people to make decisions that impact the life of the wider congregation.
What about those who grow up in the church? They have even tougher times getting to the truth because of the older generation that is in power. If you don’t read the Bible for yourself, why would you read it for to your children? If you don’t understand a particular text in the Scriptures, how could your wife?