Early in my ministry, I met a sweet widow named Marie. Marie was a godly woman. She was a poet, a prayer warrior, and a lover of Scripture.
I remember once that Marie told me that she had read through the Bible from cover to cover more than 20 times in her life. Her declaration both inspired and intimidated me.
Common sense indicates that Christians should read the Bible, but the reality is that few people read any part of the Bible, much less all of it. A recent study conducted by LifeWay Research revealed that more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible.
However, Bible reading is foundational and critical to our spiritual growth.
A LifeWay Research study also identified Bible engagement as the top spiritual discipline that a believer could participate in, but the same study found that only only 45 percent of Christians engage with the Bible on a weekly basis.
During the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., shared the recommendations of a disciple-making task force that was commissioned two years ago by the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources.
The task force made three recommendations to churches, the first of which was to increase efforts toward Bible engagement. The others were to examine the connection between salvation decisions and group involvement and to examine the number of groups that multiply on a regular basis.
“Bible engagement is more than just reading the Word,” Gallaty said. “It is allowing the Word of God and God Himself to lead us and change our direction, our actions and our thinking.” Gallaty pointed out that when people engage the Bible, they give more, serve more, go more and evangelize more.
In an effort to increase Bible engagement, Gallaty encouraged churches to participate in “80x20” challenge so that by the end of the year 2020, the percentage of believers who engage the Bible would increase from 45 percent to 80 percent. A special website — 80x20.org — includes resources such as articles, Bible reading plans and apps for smartphones or tablets. Many of the resources are free.
Bible reading is a popular New Year’s resolution, and there are a number of popular reading plans available online and through apps like YouVersion. Following are some plans you may want to consider, some of which are also available on the 80x20 website.
Bible reading is foundational and critical to our spiritual growth.
Foundations 260 (F260)
The F260 plan is a 260-day reading plan that highlights the foundational passages of Scripture that every disciple should know. This plan was designed for those who have never read the Bible before or those who may have attempted to read through the Bible in a year in the past, but failed. It includes one or two chapters of reading for five days each week with weekends off, which can be used as catch-up days if needed.
Chronological Reading Plan
In this article titled, “Why you should consider reading the Bible chronologically,” author Trevin Wax writes, “This plan takes you through the Bible’s grand narrative, so that you can follow the storyline chronologically, helping you see how the Bible fits together to tell one big story that points to Jesus Christ.” The CSB Day-By-Day Chronological Bible incorporates daily readings from author and New Testament professor George Guthrie’s “Read the Bible for Life” plan. I have previously used this plan and love it so much I will be using it again in 2019.
Developed by and named for the 19th century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne, this plan takes readers through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice over the course of a year. Each day includes readings from two Old Testament passages, one New Testament passage and a passage from either the Psalms or the Gospels. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Embrace Women’s Evangelism and Discipleship Ministry is encouraging N.C. Baptists to utilize this plan as part of its Bible reading challenge in the coming year.
Moravian Daily Text
This past year, I used the Moravian Daily Texts in my daily Bible reading. The first printed edition, known as Die Losungen (Watchwords), was published in 1731. The readings were organized by Count Zinzendorf for the Bohemian and Moravian refugees who had settled on his estate fleeing persecution. This is the same plan that Dietrich Bonhoeffer used. The plan takes readers through the Old Testament and New Testament in two years and the Psalms each year. It is a little more liturgical in that the Sunday readings are based on the church calendar. Using this plan served as a reminder not only of power of the Word, but the great providence of God in preserving His Word throughout the generations of the church. It has helped me understand that I am a part of something bigger than my own spiritual growth, a great tradition of discipleship.
No matter which plan you choose, make a commitment to engage with the Bible in the year ahead. As Don Whitney, author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, has said, “No one is changed by an unread Bible.”
How do you plan to read the Bible in 2019? What other plans have you found helpful? Leave a comment below so others may be inspired and encouraged to read the Bible in the new year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information from Baptist Press was included in this article, which has been updated from a blog post that first appeared on brianupshaw.com.
by Brian Upshaw / Disciple-Making / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina