But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, I Timothy 3:15.
A church that cannot educate its own people is in reality a failure on at least one count. Part of the reason that Christianity is in the mess that it is in with the flourishing of phony bibles is that pastors have yielded the training of their prospective preachers to bible colleges. I recently received a communication from a woman in the Dayton, Ohio area in which she said that one by one, the churches in her area are being destroyed by Bob Jones University graduates who switch out the King James Bible for the New International Version.
In the 1980s, I started a small church in East Lyndon, Vermont. At that time, the introduction of New Zealand powdered milk products and cheeses were destroying the economical feasibility of American dairy farms. New Zealand was selling their milk products for 7 1/2 cents per pound. It was costing Vermont farmers 10 cents per pound to produce milk. It was assumed that a better climate made the difference. It turned out that better climate was only a very small factor.
Eventually, the farmers began to discover that the secrets of New Zealand Dairy farming had a lot more to do with wisdom than anything else. New Zealand was not using massive doses of chemical fertilizer. Instead, they managed their pastures in a more natural way with smaller paddocks (fields) for the herds which were switched around as the astute farmer saw the richer grass dwindle. The cows were then led to another small paddock which still had rich dark grasses and the original paddock was allowed to grow back. By not having to buy expensive fertilizers, the New Zealand farmers were producing milk far cheaper.
In the late 1800s, many states and the Federal Government began establishing land grant agricultural colleges. Farmers would send off their sons to receive an education. Immediately, the large chemical companies began underwriting these colleges. Young men were trained to pour manmade fertilizers on their fields. Oh, in the first few years after junior came home the yields were fantastic. After a few decades of saturating good farm land with these chemicals, the yields became smaller and smaller. The artificial fertilizers were killing the soil. Each year it took more and more fertilizer to get back what the fields once yielded without fertilizer.
Eventually, Vermont farmers were paying huge sums of money on fertilizers that could only bring back their soil to what it had been before the introduction of chemical fertilizers. The way back to nature's plan was long and painful. New fields needed to be cleared for pastures. Two of my sons used to follow a farmer's wagon as he slowly pulled it across these newly cleared fields. For long tedious hours they would pick up rocks and toss them into his wagon. That work had already been done 200 years earlier in the older fields, but when Junior came home from college, he destroyed those fields.
The last half century has seen the destruction of the grand old Protestant Denominations. Junior came home from college and spread the artificial chemical fertilizer of Alexandrian Texts. If that was all Junior brought home, it would have been sufficient to poison the fields that were cleared, plowed, sown and harvested by John Wesley, the Scottish Presbyterians, Martin Luther, Bob Jones Sr., Billy Sunday and all of those other great men of God. Junior brought far more home than just one type of chemical fertilizer.
Higher education in the form of an unbiblical institution called a bible college, destroyed Protestantism. The Independant Fundamental Baptists are well on their way down that road. There is a bland paste of teaching that permeates our churches today. It is uninspired, trite, and generally worthless to educate a people. For purposes of brevity, we have labeled it G-BOCK, General Body of Christian Knowledge. (Click Here for more.) It has become a substitute for true bible study. As more and more of this artificial fertilizer is sprinkled on the fields, churches have to spend more and more money to entertain their congregations.
Almost any competent organizer can plant a church in a major metropolitan area and build a church. If one out of every 1000 people was predisposed to like a certain style of preacher or church, a metropolitan area with 500,000 people will eventually produce a church with 500 people. As long as the church can continue to meet the expectations of its congregation, it will flourish. Bible colleges are around to produce ministers and workers for just such a regime. The art of being able to carve out a people for Jesus Christ out of the large majority of uncommitted and unchurched people is simply missing in America.
I labor in rural America. Most rural Baptist churches struggle with about 25 to 45 people. The entire area wherein they labor has about 25,000 to 45,000 people. By working just as hard as their big city brethren, they get the same results. They get the 1 in a 1000. Those people predisposed to like their form of Baptist Christianity come to their church. I was in South Carolina in the 1990s when their was great drought one summer. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture said that statistically, there was no corn harvest in South Carolina that year. That doesn't mean that no one picked an ear of corn. It meant that the pickings were so few and far between, that it didn't register.
Soul winning in Baptist churches has equaled that mark. They boast of great numbers, but any keen observer who visits their churches year by year will almost never see a new soul. Junior has come home from bible college now and the artificial fertilizers have poisoned the fields. It is high time that competent Baptist preachers begin training their own people. How much education is needed? Well, it depends on what a person is called to do. Secular higher education in America has become a joke, and expensive joke, but a joke nevertheless.
I am not discounting such fields as need more education. I have a son taking Mechanical Engineering at the University of Buffalo. I have a son in law with a degree in medicine. I'm not so foolish as to think that churches are adequate to provide such. That doesn't change the fact that most college degrees today are virtually worthless. As one small business owner told me, "When I'm interviewing people for a minimum wage job, I do give a small consideration to the many who come here with college degrees begging for a job. Overheard in a Vermont diner was this little gem; "Have you noticed that those of us who took vocational training in high school are now hiring all of the smart kids who went off to college?".
Ronald Cunningham, founder and pastor of the Aliquippa Baptist Temple in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania observed in the early 1970s that a good education should yield three simple results.
A man can be considered adequately educated if he can:
1. Read a King James Bible.
2. Put groceries on the table.
3. Keep his own rear end clean.
Any observer of modern American culture can clearly see that we have not lived up to those modest standards. No one need dig through the laundry bins to verify the failure of the last point. The wholesale failure of the first two points ought to make it clear.
Any Baptist Church should be fully equipped by its pastor alone to teach young men of God how to study their bibles. A good church-wrought education should equip a prospective worker for the fields of God with the means to study his bible and to abound in the work of God as the Lord himself teaches that same worker. A congregation should become more and more saturated in the word of God on a doctrinal level if the pastor of that church has any unction from God whatsoever. After all, the church is the pillar and ground of the truth.
In our next post, we will look at a simple curriculum to educate our people.