Read through the Bible in 2013-- Some Options for Your Church
One need not be a Christian long to appreciate the impact the Bible has on us. Through it Holy Spirit speaks and our lives are transformed. It truly is like a two-edged sword, that reveals the deepest recesses of ourselves to us.
Those who have long attended churches likely will remember sermons exhorting them to read the Bible, seen structured plans for Bible reading, and received challenges to memorize Scripture. Verses like Psalm 119:11 ("I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I many not sin against you") and Jesus encounter with Satan in Matthew 4 spur us to remain in the Word. Or, at least, it should.
As it is, the busy lives people live today often leads to biblically illiterate churches. This causes all types of misunderstandings because too many do not know the Bible.
One easy way to encourage people to get into the Word is lead the church (or your small group or family) to read through the New Testament or even the entire Bible together. There are a number of plans to help accomplish this. I tweeted to get some ideas and here are a few that were suggested.
Bible Gateway has a number of reading plans including Old/New Testament, New Testament in a Year, Chronological. You can also choose form an enormous number of Bibles in English, French, Spanish and more. Many translations are also available.
Faith Comes by Hearing provides audio Bibles in scores of languages, available online, iPad, iPhone and Android. This is perfect for those who struggle with the printed word or whose travel makes an audio experience more preferred.
YouVersion has topical reading plans, Christmas and Advent reading plans, partial and whole Bible plans and more. They have an insightful New Testament plan designed for small groups called Community Bible Experience: NT. In total YouVersion has dozens of different types and lengths of Bible reading plans. You will need a free YouVersion account to access all the features.
Some groups like Bibleinayear.org provide the daily scripture reading through email. They also provide several versions and plans from which to choose. Tyndale House has partnered with The One Year Bible Online for a number of plans as well.
Daily Bible Reading uses a very simple, online, staggered through the Bible pattern. Daily readings feature selections from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. You'll need your own Bible for reading, but audio clips are on the page.
If you prefer regular books to digital (as, I confess, I do), it's hard to beat George Guthrie's chronological daily Bible, Reading God's Story. Guthrie's work leads readers through the biblical text with acts and scenes framing the narrative of God's working throughout history. The ultra-readable New Living Translation One Year Bible is also available in paperback. (Search "one year Bible" on Lifeway.com for many different options.)
For a church-wide effort it is hard to beat what B&H Publishing has put together with Read the Bible for Life. As the website explains,
the Read the Bible for Life initiative...aims to improve biblical literacy in the church by encouraging readers to grow in joy and skill in reading the Bible. The initiative seeks to foster:
• an understanding of how to read the parts of Scripture well,
• a perspective on the Bible as a grand story God has written on the world,
• a grasp of the themes of Scripture that thread their way powerfully and beautifully from the beginning to the end of this book of books, and
• sound application of the Scripture to modern-day life.
Read the Bible for Life in includes reading plans, sermon series, events, mobile and web interaction, videos, podcasts and access to Dr. George Guthrie's blog. The podcasts alone are a wealth of help for the average church member. The sermon series is 50-weeks through the Bible with video of each message from David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills.
I strongly encourage you to choose a plan that will get you through the entire Bible, through the entire year, or both. Whatever plan you choose for yourself, family, small group or church, being in the Word is better than being out of the Word.
(Thanks to Marty Duren for assembling this...)