Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

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Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby balaam » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:05 am

Literal interpretation of Bible 'helps increase church attendance'
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/17/literal-interpretation-of-bible-helps-increase-church-attendance?CMP=share_btn_tw

A news story in The Guardians says that a survey conducted in Ontario, Canada says that growing churches held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and were more diligent in things like prayer and Bible reading.

There is quite a lot of statistics in there, enjoy and discuss :)
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby naturaldon » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:07 pm

I haven't read the article, yet, but your synopsis of the findings doesn't surprise me. Thanks, now I have to read it!
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby Petros » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:51 am

I can easily believe that attention to the tenets of the faith would prosper a church.

However, as linguist and translator - "literal" is a hard word, and wrong meanings for literal can mess up doctrine. Few in the teade use a consistent sense for "literal"
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby c.o. » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:47 am

Petros wrote:I can easily believe that attention to the tenets of the faith would prosper a church.

However, as linguist and translator - "literal" is a hard word, and wrong meanings for literal can mess up doctrine...

:like: :like:

Example from Dt 32:10, NASB:

“He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye."

Other translations use "apple of His eye." Translating pupil/apple literally would render "He guarded him as the little man of the eye."

[ אִישׁוֹן ʼîyshôwn, ee-shone'; diminutive from H376; the little man of the eye ]

That said, sound doctrine based on careful hermeneutics is foundational to "church life" no matter the number of seats in the auditorium.
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby bn2bnude » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:28 am

I was concerned about who funded the study as that often sways results. In reading the article, it was self-funded which means one of two things, either the author and institution had an agenda or it was entirely objective.

My next concern was, like Petros, what 'literal' meant. It turns out it was more an interpretation of what the study said rather than the findings...

The conclusions from the study are:
* Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians”, compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches.
* 71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches.
* 46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches.
* 93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb”. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches.
* 100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers”, compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches.

The study also found that about two-thirds of congregations at growing churches were under the age of 60, whereas two-thirds of congregations at declining churches were over 60.

Services at growing churches featured contemporary worship with drums and guitars, while declining churches favoured traditional styles of worship with organ and choir.


There are several things that stick out. First is the growing churches have pastors and congregations who foster church growth and discipleship.

Second, the worship styles of the growing churches may have an effect on the tendency for the growth of the church as well.
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby balaam » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:50 am

Petros wrote:I can easily believe that attention to the tenets of the faith would prosper a church.

However, as linguist and translator - "literal" is a hard word, and wrong meanings for literal can mess up doctrine. Few in the teade use a consistent sense for "literal"
'Literal' was only in the headline of the article to grab people's attention. Journalists who write the articles seldom write the headline, blame the sub editor. I simply shortened the Guardian headline for use here.

The actual content of the article said, 'held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and were more diligent in things like prayer and Bible reading.' Which is not the same as literal.

Yes. reading this does make me feel optimistic.
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby Petros » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:20 am

No blame assigned - Being what I am, I often jump with both feet on the head of serpent words like "literal", too often used by people who haven't the foggiest what the real meaning is.
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby bn2bnude » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:01 am

Petros wrote:No blame assigned - Being what I am, I often jump with both feet on the head of serpent words like "literal", too often used by people who haven't the foggiest what the real meaning is.

too true
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby balaam » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:48 am

bn2bnude wrote:
Petros wrote:No blame assigned - Being what I am, I often jump with both feet on the head of serpent words like "literal", too often used by people who haven't the foggiest what the real meaning is.

too true
With your avatar that is ironic ;)
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby OzTech » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:17 pm

Hmmm... if worship style is a major draw to getting people into the church then that could be a concern. What does it say about the people joining the church if you have to have the Christian equivalent of a 'rock concert' to get them saved and what sort of growth and development is going to happen in them if all the hear is heavy music and a gospel salvation message. It is important that a major part of what people come to church for is the Word of God. Hearing the Word present by His ministry, and from our own devotions (of course), is how we become more like Christ (2 Tim 3:14-17, 2 Tim 4:2-4, Eph 4:11-16). Becoming like Christ is pretty much what it means to be a Christian i.e. if we are not growing more and more like Him then perhaps the seed of His life in us has died. If the life of Christ is not in a Church (well... in the people within the Church) then it will naturally decline.

I'm not knocking contemporary musical instruments in the worship service... where I go the Church we have drums, guitars and keyboard (along with a woodwind, brass, percussion and strings sections... even... gasp... an organ) but it is, I feel, important that the music does not dominate the life of the fellowship. Within scripture I read the purpose of the music is for "teaching and admonishing" (Col 3:16).

In another strip (which I cannot yet post in) I've read that musicians can often present biblical teaching in a simpler manner through their music (or something to that effect). Perhaps, therefore, what should be happening in our fellowships is that, when the ministry is able to present teaching upon an aspect of the word, the musicians should then be writing songs to support their message and thus help the congregation to remember that message, truth, or revelation from scripture.

Oh... please... if you are involved in the music of a church... can you make sure the balance between music and vocals is right. I walked out of a church recently because I did not know the songs and could not hear what people, on stage and in the congregation, were singing because the instruments were drowning out everything else. The projected words were of no value for the vision impaired person I was with. Also... as Christians... we should not need to feel the beat of the music pounding through us... or have to wear ear plugs to protect our hearing (as they offered me).

Sorry about the rant part but I hope that what else I have written is of some value for consideration
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby Englishman » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:54 am

That churches with congregations & clergy that actually believe in what they are talking about are more likely to grow is no real surprise. As, I think, Mr Spock said, "A difference which does not make a difference is not a difference".

Encouraging people to join a church that does not really believe, practice or teach the central tenets of its faith equates to asking folk to join a tennis club that tells them there is no real point in actually playing. Fundementalists like Grand Slam winners may believe in 'simple' tennis but we clever cloggy types know that where the baseline is happens to be a matter of huge debate & we prefer to treat Tennis, in all its equally valid forms, as a philosophy rather than a way of life. After all, when the Umpire signals the end of play, we will be deemed to have won because we took part in Tennis.

Sorry but I have found that people want & seek solidity & strength in their lives, not to be told God will, probably, let you off in the end. Didn't Tertullian say, "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church."? The underground church in China is huge! Because of good campaigning or vague theology? No, then & now, to be part of a cause that costs, sometimes a lot & sometimes evertyhing, is attractive to those watching. 'What is so good about this Jesus stuff that people risk imprisonment, removal of civil rights, torture & death just to believe in God?' If you know what you believe & practice it as well as preach, it will be noticed; oh yeah!
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby jochanaan » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:24 pm

In my experience, people hunger for something real. This is even more true when it comes to church growth. When I was in my teens in rural Nebraska, I got involved with the local Church of the Nazarene. What drew me was not the doctrine -- I wasn't even interested in doctrine then -- but the chance to get involved with a young people's musical group that actually did things, like give concerts in churches around the state, go on summer missions, read meaningful books together...

Give folks the chance to make a difference, and I suspect we will see real growth that doesn't depend on flashy "worship."
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby bn2bnude » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:46 pm

I was thinking some more about this strip and some of the weakness in not only the article but also our assumptions...

Just to prepare, I re-read the article...

  • What is growth? The article talks about increasing and declining church attendance. My point 2 goes a little deeper into what an attendee is.
  • What is an attendee? Is it a newborn baby? Is it a pre-teen? One church I went to also used "families" because they were "giving units".
  • What the article does not speak to is church membership

To articulate the list a little more... Is a church growing when one family has twins? Is the church shrinking when their members die faster than their child-bearing families have kids but nobody new attends the church?

How does our consumerist society contribute to this. We've heard from a couple of people on the strip talking about how they appreciated worship in The First Church of A but didn't in The First church of B. If they move from A -> B, there is no real growth, it's just a shell game.

Church growth is a combination of attendees bringing people in their sphere, people who are seeking God but just show up and those that come because they hear the buzz on the street. Since not every church gets a Kardashian or Beiber attending, it's up to each of us.
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If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby Petros » Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:06 am

There is also the question of the church's role - not in the eyes of board or bishop or minister, but in God's. Knew a pastor, renegade charismatic Lutheran. Good Christian, effective pastor. Always bothered - people in need come, join his group, recover, grow, then leave, so he never has a BIG VIBRANT HEALTHY church. I point out to him, what;s to worry, God has put you in charge of a much needed clinic. But he still felt he should have numbers and "success"
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Re: Literal interpretation of Bible helps churches grow

Postby bn2bnude » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:01 am

Petros wrote:There is also the question of the church's role - not in the eyes of board or bishop or minister, but in God's.

You didn't exactly open the henhouse but there is one other question that hasn't been asked...

What is the definition of "Church" and is this the same as God's definition?
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1 NLT)



If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
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