A New Road to Biblical Literacy
Leviticus had struck again. In January the congregation had begun yet another annual plan of daily Bible reading, but by February, Leviticus had ended their enthusiasm again.
But after a remedial survey on a Minor Prophet, one of the ladies said, "I never realized that little book had so much to say." I was surprised that a simple survey of the book's background, theme, and outline had so aroused her curiosity. It gave me an idea.
In 2002, our church began an ambitious project: If the congregation would take up daily Bible reading again, I would teach scriptural surveys that covered the passages they were reading. By year's end, the congregation had read Genesis to Revelation, and I had taught 250 messages on all 66 books. I had to preach five times a week to keep up with the church (they were devouring 20-30 chapters a week), but a simple plan and some well-organized software enabled us to do it.
One step ahead
Each day of the week, the congregation read a new passage, and in the preaching sessions, I gave them previews of the upcoming chapters. At the 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning service, I taught a survey of Sunday's reading assignments. I covered the difficulties, questions, and uncertainties people were likely to encounter in the passages they read. Then at 10:45 a.m., I taught a survey of Monday's readings. On Sunday night, I previewed the Tuesday readings; on Tuesday night, the Wednesday and Thursday readings. And Thursday night, I taught a survey of Friday and Saturday's readings and included a Q-and-A session. Following each session, I passed out charts, maps, book outlines, and points of study for the congregation's reading at home. We recorded each message for those who missed a session, though I was surprised by how many came to all five each week!
How did I preach five times a week, on five different passages? Preaching surveys, rather than in-depth sermons, saved me some of the detail work of preparation. And a computer product, Libronix Digital Library System from Logos Research Systems, cut hundreds of hours from my prep time.
The computer software interlinked parallel Bible passages?the NASB right next to Hebrew or Greek?so that when I jumped to a verse in one, the computer simultaneously presented the others. A feature called Passage Guide worked in the background, silently compiling in a hyperlinked list relevant entries from journals, study Bibles, and commentaries for every passage I looked up. The software also gave me the materials for the handouts.
Still, it was an exhausting pace. Another pastor might choose to do a two-year or even five-year survey instead. But the changes in our church made the work well worth it.
New heights, new depth
Before the survey year, many of the women in our church wanted their husbands to join them in devotions, but it wasn't happening. Many men felt lost trying to lead their families through Bible studies and answer their questions. But with the survey format, we saw many families studying together for ...