The simple answer is that many churches are failing at teaching and training their members.
Millions grow up in evangelical churches attending Sunday school and Vacation Bible School (VBS) but begin to ponder serious questions as they reach their teens or early 20s. Questions like “If God is good, why does he allow evil?” or “Why did God need a sacrifice for our sins? Couldn’t He just forgive them without being so destructive?”
These are excellent questions, and it’s positive that people ask them. What’s concerning is the typical response to these questions by many evangelical church leaders. Growing up, I asked these same questions and was given lackluster answers such as “Just believe and don’t worry about those kinds of things. It’s all about faith.” As a teenager who valued knowledge and learning, these responses made the Church seem like an ignorant place, where people turn blind eyes to significant questions. Millions of others think the same way.
But why are these answers so prevalent? It comes down to this: most evangelical churches are doing a terrible job at properly training their members in doctrine.
I spent 20 years in various evangelical churches—specifically Southern Baptist churches—and not once was I informed of any statement of faith or confession that those churches upheld, despite the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) having the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which details their beliefs. The problem is that even Baptist churches within the SBC do not necessarily teach or believe what the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says.
How can we expect members to stay in those churches when they are not trained and taught to answer the essential questions that the world asks? Affirming proper Christian doctrine in our statements of faith or confessions is a must, and we must continually teach them to our members. No more motivational speeches, no more empty metaphors, just pure, unadulterated teaching of doctrine from our pulpits. Our churches should be a place of learning and wisdom, not ignorance and folly.
The call to action is clear: churches must rise to the challenge of proper doctrinal education. It’s not merely about keeping members; it’s about empowering them to grow in their faith, engage with the world’s most profound questions, and foster a deeper relationship with God. By embracing a robust teaching framework and emphasizing the essential doctrines, churches can become places of spiritual nourishment and wisdom. This shift can rebuild trust, strengthen communities, and ensure that the Church continues to be a beacon of truth and hope in a world desperately in need. Let us commit to this vital mission and witness a revitalization of faith that is both intellectually satisfying and spiritually fulfilling.