Sodom was married to Gomorrah. Really?
Billy Graham delivered the Sermon on the Mount. C’mon?
Joan of Arc was married to Noah. Are you kidding?
Of course these lines are false. But they shockingly demonstrate why Biblical Illiteracy in the American church has reached epidemic levels.
Those thoughts are just three of the findings from data released by the Barna Research Group. Below are a few of the highlights:
- At least 12 percent of adults believed that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
- Over 50% of graduating high school seniors said Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.
- A considerable number of respondents thought Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount.
- Fewer than half of all adults could name the four gospels.
- Many Christians can’t identify more than two or three of the disciples.
THE YELLOW CHAIR
The American church’s yellow chair in this case is thinking a linear strategy can reverse the disconcerting trend. The thinking behind that approach says “step it up…we must get people to read their Bible!” Of course getting people to read their Bible IS the goal. But thinking people can be persuaded through a direct, “do this” campaign is crazy…and a yellow chair.
Toss out the yellow chair in order to direct full and immediate attention to the beliefs and attitudes that drive BEHAVIOR (in this case reading or not reading the Bible).
That means the church must first address the life context of those targeted for change and build an “Application Bridge” to the Bible. If they’re successful doing that, there’s a chance to reach the ultimate goal of Bible literacy.
The application bridge is built by showing the target in their very own context WHY the Bible is important for them. THEN, the focus can turn to programs intended to move people into actually reading the scriptures.