“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
“By this time you ought to be teachers, but you need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).
The pastor had been called from his rural church to another part of the country. He was excited about the new challenge, as he well should have been. In a parting comment to a friend, he assessed the state of spirituality of the church members he was leaving behind:
“There is enough ignorance in this county to ignorantize the whole country.”
What happens when a pastor gets called to a church like that? A church where the members and leaders alike do not know the Word of God and have no idea of how things should be done (what Paul called “how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God”–I Timothy 3:15), or why it all matters.
A church that exists to condemn sin and sinners, that knows only slivers of Scripture, that sees ministers as slaves of the whims of the congregation, and that is ready to reject as a liberal any minister who wants the church to feed the hungry in the community, take a stand for justice, or invite in the minority neighbors–the ignorance takes all kinds of forms.
We wish we could say such congregations are few and rare, but they aren’t. Veteran preachers have stories of those churches, tales of run-ins with those leaders, and scars from the battles they have waged to set matters right.
–One pastor told the group of ministers meeting in his fellowship hall, “This building is actually owned by a member of the KKK. We rent it from him.” The rest of us were naive and thought the Ku Klux Klan had died out ages ago. Here they were living among us in our own southern town.
–One lady visible in church leadership told her pastor, “I don’t know what the Bible says but I know what I believe.”