A recent study by LifeWay Research found that 70% of young Americans who attended a protestant church regularly for at least one year during high school, stop attending church for at least one year by age 22 . It also found nearly 45% indicate they will never again be regular church attenders.
Baptisms in Southern Baptist Churches have declined for eight of the last ten years, and are now the lowest in 70 years. Statistics from most of America's church denominations and associations are not available, but they are probably similar. Some are worse.
Yes there are local churches with better statistics. But the problem is national. When Americans are asked about their religion, a growing percentage will reply, “NONE.” This shouts:
America. We have problems!
George Gallup has found that we are ”a nation of biblical illiterates,” and Christian pollster George Barna has concluded, ”The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy.”
Some background information. Beginning with a Sunday School class I taught in 1963, I repeatedly taught, and improved a Bible study in my ministries over a span of thirty years. I first taught it to college students, when I was on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU),and when I was the Pastor at Grace Bible Church in College Station, Texas..
After my pastorate I taught it as a series of Bible Studies to classes in churches, groups in private homes, for student groups on the Texas A&M University campus, and for weekend retreats. About when I turned sixty, I took the content of those studies and put in in a book titled, The Master Plot of the Bible, and then wrote, As You are Going... Make Disciples.
For many years, I though it was a mistake to self-publish. I NOW know my Lord lead me in that decision (about seven years before Amazon published its first eBook) so that Amazon Prime Members can NOW borrow and read them at no cost, and others can get them as low cost eBooks for only $3.00 a book.
The Master Plot of the Bible has selected scriptures from 74 chapters in the Old Testament, and 79 chapters in the New Testament. I believe it is important that readers read all of the cited Bible verses. If they had to look them up, many will not do it – so they are all included in bold print. The last four paragraphs from its first chapter explain that title and the book's purpose. Please read them:
A common response to the title of this book is, “What do you mean by the Plot of the Bible?” Webster has several definitions for the word plot, including “the plan or main story of a literary work” and “a secret plan for accomplishing an (often evil or unlawful) end.” As we proceed through the Bible, we will see its plot is not secret, evil, or unlawful, but is more than just “the main plan or story of a literary work.” The Bible’s plot definitely includes the concept of: “an intelligently planned course of action designed to accomplish an end or purpose.”
While the human authors of the Bible were unaware that their writings were going to become a part of a larger book with a central plot, God chose to progressively reveal His plan through the writings of men whom He selected and inspired. The result is a “Book of Books” written by many men from several centuries. This book of many books has an amazing unity, and one central plot that begins in Genesis, and flows through the Bible to the book of the Revelation.
To prepare you for the rest of this book, the foundation for the Bible’s plot rests on certain covenants and prophetic promises that God made in the Old Testament, which provide the basis for His action on our behalf -- actions recorded in the New Testament. Understanding these promises, and God’s work to fulfill them, helps us understand the Bible’s plot. When the plot is understood, the individual parts of the Bible, that rest on the primary message, become much more meaningful.
Like the opening of a rose bud, the Bible’s plot unfolds gradually. When the full bloom is viewed, it is a magnificent creation. It is because of this gradual development, within a very long book, that the plot is often missed by many believers. In this book, we will skip over much of the material that rests on the main plot, not because it is unimportant, but to help you, the reader, grasp the main flow of biblical truth. Then you will be prepared to joyfully appreciate the many “buds” that spring off of the “main stem.” Please be patient as we begin -- the flower will gradually reach full bloom.
This book is not an end-all for Bible illiteracy. But it is a good starter, and will help readers understand context when they read passages in their Bibles, and understanding context improves comprehension. I am confident that reading that book will encourage many readers to read their Bibles, and to dig deeper. Applying the above definition of the word plot, “The Bible is a revelation of God's intelligently planned course of action to accomplish His end and purpose in our lives.”
The Great Commission includes “teaching them,”
and good teachers give homework assignments.
Many biblically illiterate Americans, sitting in our pews, plan on reading the Bible. But most will not get around to doing it. So I encourage pastors to give everyone in their pews a homework assignment to read The Master Plot of the Bible.
Some may read it and respond, “Reading this was the first time I have understood what is in the Bible.” Don't be surprised by some baptisms.
You can encourage your members and attenders to do their homework assignment by attaching www.datewithgod.com to an e-mail, and encouraging them to read it, and then use the Amazon link for The Master Plot of the Bible, to get the eBook and read it. The first chapter is complete in Amazon's free trial, and the complete eBook can be purchased for only $3.00 (less than the cost of a BigMac). Many of your people are Amazon Prime Members. They can borrow and read it at no cost.
Another good way to get your church's members to read this book is to attach www.baptismpresents.com to an e-mail asking them to help your church evaluate The Master Plot of the Bible for baptism presents.
After your members read it, ask them, ”Would this book have helped you when you were a new believer?” Also ask why to the positive responses, and it might motivate more people to read it. And, “Do you want our church to give it as Baptism and Graduation presents to help prevent church drop-outs?”
Don't be surprised if getting all of your members and attenders to read that web page, and this home work assignment, leads to more baptisms.
As You Are Going... Make Disciples
That's the title for my second book. I wrote it to help American churches deal with their #2 problem. That title is a short literal translation of the Great Commission. Just as Jesus told stories to teach, this book uses entertaining stories to teach and encourage personal evangelism.
The eBook version has extra chapters that work like flash cards for memorizing 130 verses that focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Many believers will already know many of the verses, but can't remember where they are located in the Bible. Reading this book, and the memory work, will help prepare them to be more effective as personal witnesses for Jesus Christ. It's an entertaining book to read, it teaches, and it motivates.
Endorsements by Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Earl Radmacher, Oregon's Senator Mark Hatfield, and Young Life area director, John Wayland, are on the paper cover of As You Are Going... Make Disciples and in www.baptismpresents.com.
Anyone can get The Master Plot of the Bible and As You Are Going... Make Disciples,for $3.00 an eBook, and Amazon will include a personal note if either is sent as a gift.
Amazon Prime Members can borrow them
Click here for info about purchasing the paper versions.
Taking content from my two main books,
I developed a three chapter eBook titled,
You can Have a Great Date with God
He has spoken – His tomb is empty
My interaction with college student convinced me that most church dropouts and skeptics don't understand the gospel, and have never been confronted with compelling Christian evidences. So I developed a shorter book (in both English and Spanish), for internet evangelism purposes. Some of the content is from my first two books.
The first chapter explains the Gospel, the second chapter presents prophetic evidence that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, and the third shares rock solid evidence that verifies the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the Gospel and compelling Christian evidences are presented, many skeptics are surprised how strong it is, and some will respond. Most of the first chapter can be previewed by reading the free web page, www.datewithgod.com.
For only $3.00, Amazon will send You can Have a Great Date with God... as an eBook as a gift, anyplace in the world, with a personal note from the giver. Suggested notes are in www.easterpresents.info.
Parents and grand-parents should give this book to loved ones who are church dropouts. It is also a good gift for skeptics who have never darkened the doors of a church. All my books can be borrowed and read by Amazon Prime Members, and anyone can read the first chapters in Amazon's free trials: www.amazon.com/Bob-Prall/e/B008ONE7MM.
If they know about it, many parents and grandparents, will give this three chapter eBook to loved ones who are church dropouts, or prevent them from becoming dropouts.
While I call them Easter Presents, because they present solid evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, believers can give them any season, for any reason. More information about this eBook, suggested notes for gifts, and a link for its Spanish version, are at: www.easterpresents.info
The first chapters in all of my books
can be read in Amazon's free trial at:
Amazon Prime Members can
borrow and read them at no cost
Click here for info about purchasing the paper editions
More ministry strategies are at: