Accept the Challenge — The Year of the Bible
Most Christians yearn to read the Bible more often, even daily. Many aspire to read the entire Bible in their lifetimes. Few people are able to meet this goal. They often lack the encouragement and accountability that come from reading the Bible with others. The Year of the Bible: An Enhanced Guide to Reading Scripture Together can help Christians accept the challenge to read the Bible from cover to cover.
The Year of the Bible is a congregation-wide project, designed to help congregations with their commitment to read the whole Bible in one year. Although reading the entire Bible in the space of one year is a big undertaking, it is amazing to watch the enthusiasm of people committed to this shared goal. Some, who hardly ever read the Bible, are inspired to open this study and consider its meaning for their lives. Others, who read the Bible daily, rejoice at the opportunity to experience the grand sweep of the Scriptures in this way.
What makes The Year of the Bible so attractive?
The combination of three primary elements makes it work:
- The Whole Bible. Although some have suggested, tongue in cheek, that a “Reader’s Digest” version would be nice, the challenge of reading the entire Bible makes people sign up. They want to read the whole Bible rather than simply skim through the same books repeatedly.
- The Whole Year. Participants will need discipline to read, on average, twenty minutes a day. Making this sort of commitment, and then following through, is valuable in itself.
- The Whole Congregation. Everyone in the congregation is encouraged to participate. Naturally, not everyone will be able to do so, but more people will sign up than you expect.
How does The Year of the Bible work?
The centerpiece is a Participant’s Book. It includes a monthly overview article and the daily readings. The articles suggest things for readers to look for as they read. A section titled “In the Spotlight” is an added feature in the revised edition. This section allows people to focus on ideas and themes that will deepen their understanding of the passages that they are reading.
The second component of The Year of the Bible, the Leader’s Guide, helps congregations develop a unique Bible-reading ministry. It contains materials to organize, publicize, and carry out the project. While it has many suggestions for preaching, teaching, organizing retreats, and designing special events, the Leader’s Guide encourages each church to imagine creative ways to tailor the experience for the congregation.
What are the results of doing The Year of the Bible?
People in your congregation will come to know and appreciate the Bible. They will discover a deepening sense of unity within the congregation as they share their thoughts about the readings. People will relish the sense that they are “in this together.” Many people have testified to the value of The Year of the Bible:
“I’m really enjoying reading the Bible. I never actually read much of it before.”
“This year of reading and study has been a great learning experience and a wonderful discipline.”
“This program has been a blessing to our congregation. It has drawn us together in ways we never anticipated.”
Introduced in 1996, The Year of the Bible has helped nearly 60,000 people read the whole Bible. Because of the success of the program, Congregational Ministries Publishing has released a revised edition
If you want your congregation to get involved in a serious, exciting project, and if you want your members to read the Bible, then make a commitment to adopt The Year of the Bible in your church!
Tell Me More: James E. Davison is director of continuing education and adjunct professor in Greek language and exegesis at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.