David Wells reflects on the fact that apostolic Christianity was shaped into a set of clear teachings and doctrines:

Christianity, in these and texts like them, is described as the faith, the truth, the pattern of sound words, the traditions, the sound doctrine, and what was delivered in the beginning. This is what the apostles taught, it is what they believed, it is what they “delivered” to the church, it is what is “entrusted” to the church. Christians are those who “believe” this teaching, who “know” it, who “have” it, who “stand” in it, and who are “established” in it. The New Testament letters were written to remind believers about their responsibilities in relation to this teaching, this faith that has been delivered to the church in its final and completed form. The apostles, we read, write to “remind” them of it, urge them to “pay close attention” to it, to “stand firm” in it, to “follow” it, to “hold” onto it, to “guard” it as one might a precious jewel, and to contend earnestly for this truth.

Can we see the most basic point here? It is that the church in its earliest days was a learning community. What it was learning was the ways of God, his character, his acts, through the truth he had given and was giving them. This they knew was indispensable for a life of obedience in this world.

By contrast, all of this is conspicuous by its absence in much of the contemporary evangelical church. Knowledge of the Bible ranks low in how the born-again judge themselves. And the preaching of the Bible’s truth has all but disappeared from many churches. We are today walking away from what we see modeled for us in the book of Acts as God’s will for the church. (The Courage to Be Protestant, 84-85)

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7 thoughts on “Is Your Church a Learning Community?”

  1. Kevin Jandt says:

    Kevin, thank you for another strong post. churches are more like country clubs and God’s word is a distraction. Look around and see how many church attenders bring their bibles with them to church; a good indication they don’t hold it in very high esteem.

  2. Bruce Meyer says:

    Fine quote from Dr. Wells, and a wonderful thought besides, that the church and its members would grow in knowledge of scripture and in sanctification.
    The use of the term “learning community” is not the same as usually understood these day. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_community Being a learning community in this way is really important too.

  3. LoisW says:

    I have been intending to reply to this since last week. Today, I see there are still only four replies. This surprises and saddens me, given the normal volume of response to a Kevin DeYoung blog. Unless the members of Christ’s church are humbly receiving His Word, individually and corporately, and growing thereby, they are making a hollow profession–though perhaps unwittingly. Today, I find so many who are not able to “test all things” because they have lost the means of testing. They know Bible stories and proof-texts, but their minds and their hearts reveal a lack of being saturated deeply with the Biblical pictures of judgment, of the holiness of God, of the seriousness of sin, of the cost of our salvation, of the fullness of our redemption, of the fathomless love of the Father, and the indescribable suffering of the Son. How can you hear false notes if you do not know the music? If we are truly alive in Christ we are growing. We grow in the knowledge of God, and we are transformed by the Spirit. God has revealed Himself in His Word. David Wells shines a focus on a crucial lack in the church of Christ today. Do not other readers think so?

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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