Pastors beware! The Bible is a very dangerous book. You need to consider the implications carefully before encouraging your congregation to read the Bible for themselves.
If they start reading the Bible on their own, God may get a hold of their heart. They may begin to get a vision for the Kingdom of God (and it may not line up with your vision for your local church)! They may begin to hear God speak to them personally. They may even discover their calling. They may find that God is calling them to plant a church. And you know what that means ==> they’re leaving your church! And that is going to hurt your numbers. And we all know that butts in seats is the ultimate measure of church success! Making and sending disciples of Jesus may be a great strategy for building the kingdom of God, or spreading the gospel throughout the whole earth, but we all know that its a lousy church growth strategy.
If your people begin to read the Bible devotionally you may begin to see live transformed, marriages restored, deliverances from drug addiction, deliverances from demonic oppression, conviction of sin and God forbid – fiscal responsibility (Oh wait, I guess that’s OK – so long as they tithe). Some other things you will need to watch out for if you allow your people access to the holy scriptures in their own language: they may begin to question things you say in your sermons, they may also begin to question things like your form of church government, church polity, denominational policy, ecclesial heirarchy, decisions of the elders, banners, building funds, architecture, seating arrangements, how you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, how often you baptize – and the list goes on and on…
If you want to control your people, get them to behave like “good Christians,” submissive sheep, “servant leaders” – you better think twice about letting them read the Bible without the loving guidance of a well-trained shepherd such as yourself. It has become quite popular in Evangelical circles these days to encourage laity to “spend time in the scriptures” or do daily devotions (aka quiet time). Pastors everywhere are telling their flocks that “you’ve got to get God’s word in you if you really want to see God work in your life!” If this trend continues, the next big thing will probably be everyone wanting to speak in tongues! It’s time to nip this trend in the bud.
Yes, the Bible is a very dangerous book, filled with radical ideas! Come to think of it, this Jesus of Nazareth fella was quite the rebel, traveling from village to village, stirring up the people, and upsetting long held religious traditions. Maybe those who said that allowing people access to the Bible in their own vernacular would only lead to doctrinal anarchy were right? Maybe the Bible should be banned!