MILLER – It’s one thing for a church to simply agree with the supremacy of Scripture, but it’s quite another to intentionally train church members on how to interpret, engage, and rely upon Scripture for everyday life. But Mark Fugitt says that that is exactly what the local church is called to do.
“If the local church doesn’t step into this role, either it won’t happen, or the void will be filled by someone else—often unvetted online sources or others that aren’t interested in walking through Scripture together with a brother or sister in Christ,” said Fugitt, senior pastor at Round Grove Baptist Church here.
Round Grove is gearing up to launch a church-wide Bible reading plan to help engage their members in God’s word. They will encourage the church’s current small groups to spend time discussing the reading plan together, and they will also encourage families to make the reading plan part of their daily family devotion time.
“This is not a ‘read through the Bible in a year plan,’ but it’s something that takes smaller chunks of Scripture each day that we can reflect on and dig in to,” said Josh Rinker, associate pastor of youth and discipleship here. “We will also have opportunities to post comments and encourage dialog on social media. We’ll start by going through the book of Mark for 12 weeks.”
Fugitt said pastors should be equipping their people. Scripture literacy is a holistic philosophy rather than a program. At Round Grove, their Sunday School classes are text-driven, they offer Bible Drill for children to emphasize Scripture memorization and Bible knowledge, and they preach expository, text-based sermons with a focus on application.
“We realized a long time ago that we will never get to preach the whole Bible to every member, but every member needs the whole Bible,” Fugitt said. “Once people realize that the Bible can help them and they get equipped with some of the tools and skills they need to study it, they are going to get so much more from it in their personal reading.”
He said short-sighted pastors who want their members to come to them for all the answers is a dangerous precedent to set. By shielding church members from most of the text, pastors act as filters, harvesting and interpreting topics from their perspectives. Fugitt said one of the major mistakes of the medieval church was that they began to place religious leaders between God’s word and church members. The toxic effects ranged from apathy to false doctrine and corruption.
“Many Reformers were willing to be burnt at the stake because they believed in the singular truth that people needed access to the Scripture,” he said. “I pray that our church could share in this same passion lest we fall to the same cycle of indifference and abuse.”
However, more than access, the reality is that every believer starts out just like the Ethiopian man in Acts 8, waiting on someone to explain the Scriptures.
“We are there as shepherds, helping to guide them along the path that Christ has already laid before us all in the pages of His Word,” Fugitt said.