Marion County ranked top in 'Bible-minded' areas
While flipping through an old church directory, Carl Helm noticed familiar faces.
“I know a lot of these people,” the pastor of Marion Christian Church said. “There are ones that I don’t recognize. But when I look at the name, I realize that they are the great-grand parents or grandparents of the people who are currently attending the church.”
Across much of the South and Midwest, churches are seeing the exact same result: people who are raised in church are more likely to be “Bible-minded” and believe what the Bible says.
In fact, according to the Barna Group and The American Bible Society, 42 percent of Marion County’s population is “churched,” putting the area among the top 20 “Bible-minded” areas in the nation.
“It’s a simple thing, but it’s true,” Helm said. “Bible-minded people come from Bible-minded churches. It has to do with our faith, our values. It’s just how people are wired around here.”
Helm said he has seen people go and come from his church, but in each case, it remains the same: If they grew up in church, they are most likely active in a church somewhere.
But, Helm said it saddens him to think about future generations, knowing that there is a good chance that those same beliefs and values will not be reflected in the next generation.
“The majority of kids nowadays didn’t grow up in a Bible-believing church,” he said.
“Their parents didn’t encourage it — and so entertainment took priority. That’s why we have so many churches today that are so focused on entertaining their congregation.
“They feel like they need to do something to make church more attractive, but they’re doing more harm than good — so many churches today are not preaching the word of God, and it hurts them in the long-run.”
Helm said he first saw this reality when he was a youth pastor, interning at a large church.
The church’s youth group had a lot of members, but Helm saw that it was missing an important element: Bible study.
“The kids wanted to learn from God’s word and that’s exactly what we focused on,” he said. “After all, it’s all about God.”
Too often, Helm said, churches today focus on the wrong thing: keeping people entertained, instead of feeding their souls.
“Kids today live in a different world,” he said. “I would like to think that, given the choice, kids will always choose to come to church, but the fact is that the world is really appealing. There’s television and video games — and church can’t always compete with that.”
Thinking back on his childhood, Helm said he appreciates that his parents made him go to church every Sunday — whether he wanted to or not.
“I don’t know where I’d be if my family didn’t instill those values in me,” he said.
Now, as Helm looks forward, he sees the importance of ministry — perhaps now more than ever.
“We can’t lose sight that it’s all about God,” he said. “We need to get back to the Bible. It’s a powerful book. If you read it, it will change your life.”
But, Helm said, he is often disheartened by the blatant disregard for God and the Bible.
“We have to turn back to Him,” he said. “
There’s nothing the devil wants more than to corrupt our youth with things like white magic, black magic, Ouija boards, etc.
There are so many anti-Christ things happening right now, it’s only a matter of time before it will make way for the person, called the Anti-Christ, to come to power.”
It is the rejection Biblical beliefs — caused, in part, by not attending a Bible-believing church — that Helm said eventually leads to moral decay.
“The reason that we’re having a shooter kill innocent elementary school children isn’t because he has psychiatric problems, although that might have something to do with it,” he said. “It’s because he had a moral problem, but people aren’t willing to admit that either, because if they did, then they would have to do something about it.”
Helm said the only solution is to return to the Christian principles that the country was founded upon. So, Helm said, he is going to do his best to preach Biblical truths every Sunday.