The combination of New Year's resolutions and internet accessibility has driven millions of Christians to start one-year Bible reading plans through apps like YouVersion and Bible Gateway. But just as commitments to other resolutions drop, so do commitments to reading plans.
For Bible Gateway, January 1 was the peak day for starting plans, but traffic dropped 30 percent only a week later, said internet systems architect Stephen Smith. "By the end of February, reading plan traffic drops by one-third from January's overall levels, and by the end of May, it drops by nearly one-half," said Smith.
Bible Gateway is the Internet's most visited Christian site, with 130 million–plus monthly views. The portal offers 180 biblical versions in 70 languages, and new systems will enable the Zondervan-owned site to better measure completion rates of its 15 reading plans during 2014.
But general manager Rachel Barach wants readers to focus more on comprehension than on how many chapters they read. "If a reading plan motivates you, use it," she said. "But if it becomes a chore that deters you from Scripture, use a devotional, study one book in depth, or just randomly open to a chapter. Give your time to God and let him bless you through his Word."
Still, some see reading plans as a way to not only better understand the overarching message of Scripture but also connect with the historic church. Joel Scandrett, professor of historical theology at Trinity School for Ministry, said daily reading is a fundamental discipline dating to the early church. "The deep grasp of Scripture that this discipline provides is essential to Christian discipleship, and one-year Bible reading plans ...