1.In Western cultures there is no shortage of Bibles. Yet widespread biblical illiteracy means that the Bible often is effectively “lost.” What would you suggest to address the problem? Biblical illiteracy is caused by people not reading the Bible. Therefore, the solution to the problem is for people to read their Bibles! We recognize, however, that although that answer is right, it may not be helpful in and of itself in solving the problem.
A more productive start is to consider why people fail to read their Bibles. Perhaps they don’t recognize the value or importance of Scripture, or they have trouble understanding the Bible (and thus give up too soon), or they aren’t readers of anything–period. A contributing factor may be a cultural dismissal of Scripture as being irrelevant. Each problem calls for a different approach. We can start by examining our own worship services: How often is there a public reading of Scripture on Sunday morning?
2.What advantages are there to having a godly person in a position of political power? What are the disadvantages or potential pitfalls? When Christians are in positions of influence and power, we can hope that their decisions and leadership are guided by their faith and by prayer. Ideally, they should have a strong sensitivity to issues and matters of God. That person’s leadership style should also reflect those values; leadership should be strong, yet compassionate and just.
Challenges for these leaders include navigating the different expectations of fellow Christians. For some, issues of morality are the most important. For others, issues of social justice are paramount. There is, at least potentially, the danger of Christians confusing political success with spiritual progress. The church’s mission and purpose remain unchanged, regardless of the direction that the political winds are blowing.
3. How should a leader go about gaining consensus for change in today’s church? Or is it better just to proceed with a majority, since building a consensus is often time consuming or even impossible?
It is worth noting that Josiah began with a personal commitment. Only then was he able to generate momentum among other leaders in order to present a unified leadership and a clear direction to the people.
Josiah also made a point of gathering leaders from across the spectrum of society. As we work through the lesson, we will see Josiah present the facts, allow the people to assimilate the data, and then call for one specific action. Achieving consensus (or reaching a “tipping point”) was perhaps easier here because Josiah was merely re-implementing something that should never have been allowed to fall into disuse in the first place.
4.Josiah met with “all the people, both small and great.” What elements of society tend to be overlooked by churches? How can we make sure that we are communicating the gospel to everyone?
Individual churches tend to reach out to relatively narrow slices of their communities through “targeted demographics.” As a result, many churches miss certain segments of the population completely. Plans to address the deficiencies can also be put into place at the level of the individual church. One church may offer English as a Second Language classes for outreach, while an-other may start a contemporary (or traditional)worship service. Perhaps the best strategies for outreach and evangelism have yet to be devised.
5.What circumstances would make a command to corporate worship effective? Why do we seldom hear these kinds of commands from political or spiritual leaders today?
Today many believe that worship must be an internal and personal event. Worship in Josiah’s time was much more a communal function, held at a central place.
Western societies that have a tradition of separation of church and state may find it hard to imagine a political leader commanding people to worship. However, in times of crisis leaders have been known to ask their country to pray. An ex-ample is Abraham Lincoln’s “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day” of March 30. 1863, available on the Internet.