The great football coach, Weeb Eubank, had a tradition at the beginning of every season. He would take all the new and seasoned players, sit them down, and then begin his lecture. He would take a football, stick it in their faces, and say to them, “Gentlemen, this is a football! Get to know it all over again.” He would go on to explain that unless they remembered the basics of the game of football, they could not win.
The same is true of the church. Unless we keep going back to the basics of who we are and what we believe, we will not continue to grow in the truth, for the truth starts with the basics.
When I was teaching in South Africa, I would tell the students the same thing every year. No matter what aspect of Christian work you go into, when you start in your new position always start by going back to the basics. If the people a l ready know them and can explain them, you are not wasting your time because we all need to keep going over them. If the people don’t know the basics, then you can only succeed, because to not teach the basics to your people means that you will have no foundation on which to build.
We are part of a denomination with many great traditions, but it is not our traditions which make up our foundation – it is the Bible! Our people have either grown up in our churches, or they have come from other churches and traditions where the basics may or may not have been emphasized. We are witnessing, even in the PCA, a weakening of our understanding of the Bible’s doctrine of the church. Because of this, some of our churches are accepting the teachings and practices of the Emergent Church Movement without even realizing what they are doing. We must never allow our churches to lose our understanding of the Bible or our traditions. In the day that happens, we will be like all the other churches who have stepped onto that slippery slope, moving further and further away from the truth, unaware of what is happening.
Here is my suggestion for pastors as well as teachers. Presume nothing! Find out exactly where your people are in their belief system. If they can articulate the basics, then you can move on. I emphasize articulate because if you simply ask people if they believe the Bible is the Word of God or that Jesus was born of a virgin, most of them will say yes. But if you ask them to explain and prove from the Bible these truths, you might be shocked by how little they really know. Read the lead article and ask your people if they understand the issue Charles is bringing out. Did you know that 60% of those that are won to the cults are won out of born again, Bible teaching churches? How can this be? This statistic occurs because we have wrongly presumed that our people truly know the basics.
THE BASICS: Teach them again for the very first time!