3 Fresh Ideas for Improving Your Bible Reading in 2017
I am still blown away by the idea that the God of the universe wants to communicate with us on a daily basis and that he has chose to do so in this miraculous book we call the Bible. Historically—both the history it contains and the history of its shaping and transmission in the community of faith—it is astounding. Literarily it is magnificently crafted. Narratively it is riveting, and poetically it is breath-taking. Theologically it is deeply grounding, and practically it is life-altering. You know you want to read it, need to read it, on a daily basis, but you may feel a need for fresh ideas for engagement of the Scriptures day-by-day as we move into the new year. So, here are a few thoughts that might help.
1. For Consistency, Try a “Texting” Encouragement Group
One of the elders of our church came up with this great, simple idea and has been practicing it with a small group of friends. Here’s how it work:
a. Form a group of 2-5 people (if it gets too big it becomes unmanageable)
b. Choose a plan. You can download my free Chronological plan (Read the Bible for Life) by clicking here, or you can access it on YouVersion here. My plan covers the whole of Scripture in a year, in a 6-day-a-week format (giving you that extra day to catch up if you need it). There are many others of all kinds out there.
c. Every day, each member of the group simply texts the group when he or she finishes the reading. That’s all there is to it.
d. The group can get together once in awhile for coffee or a meal, but this is not mandatory. The power of this “texting group” idea is its simplicity.
2. Combine Rapid and Reflective Reading
I mentioned this in a post a couple of weeks ago. In my reading of the Bible I feel two great needs: breadth, continuing to grow in my grasp of the big story of Scripture, and depth, meditating deeply on the details. Let me explain a couple of options for how this might work.
a. Follow an annual reading plan, reading through the Bible day-by-day (the daily reading normally will take about 15-30 min. per day for most people), but choose one passage of a few verses on which to meditate each day. You might meditate on your passage at the end of your reading time, over lunch, on a brief coffee break in the morning or afternoon, or share the passage with a friend (or all of the above).
b. A second approach might be to do your daily reading plan and then use your focus passage in your prayer time, weaving thoughts from the passage into praise, or confession, or prayer needs for the day.
c. A third option might be to do your daily reading of the Bible at one point in the day (e.g., first thing in the morning), and then read a devotional book based on Scripture at another point in the day (e.g., a break after lunch or at night before going to bed).
d. Finally, you could choose one key verse to memorize and meditate on from your Bible reading each week.
The point is, access large chunks of Scripture on a daily basis, but meditate on particular passages.
3. Get Daily Coaching as You Read through the Bible
At the risk of this sounding like a commercial, one of the Read the Bible for Life tools that has gotten lots of encouraging feedback is the Reader’s Guide to the Bible, which you can buy on Amazon (paperback), or at LifeWay.com (in either paperback or digital [epub] format). It is a fairly unique tool, combining a daily reading plan with "coaching" on how to read the portion of Scripture for the day. The Reader's Guide:
* Follows the chronological reading plan mentioned above, leading through the Bible in a year.
* It overviews the Story of Scripture in 3 great "Acts" with numerous "Scenes"
* Using principles for reading the Bible well from Read the Bible for Life, it coaches the reader day-by-day
* It leads the reader in thinking through application each day
* It provides discussion questions at the end of each week
* It also can be used with any Bible translation.
Here are sample pages from the Readers Guide.
Many people have told me that this tool has made a great deal of difference in their Bible reading, the Bible coming alive as they engage it on its own terms.
My prayer is that we all will have a rich experience of reading God’s Word in 2017. What other suggestions do you have that might help people engage the Scriptures effectively and consistently?