I got a church newsletter today encouraging its members to Read Thru the Bible in 2007.  We tried that the first year I was here and only two people actually did it — and I was not one of them!  I did pretty well until about August, got hopelessly behind and never caught up.  I actually confessed this to my congregation, which was a real encouragement to the 100+ folks who “failed” like I did.  However, that missed the point of actually getting people to read the Bible.  So, in 2006, we tried a new approach, which really worked!

This approach was based upon the totally unscientific assumption that most people get bogged down in the begats and the Levitical laws.  Okay, I am sure that both of those things are really important, but they are also really boring and tedious.  Frankly, I don’t need to know what to do if my garment is moldy (Lev 13:47-58); or, what to do if my house has fungus (Lev 14:33-53); or, what the fine points are between grain offerings, peace offerings, and so on.  I know these passages make fine allegorical preaching (“the mold represents the bad things in our lives….”), but reading them is trying. 

I ran across Tom Bandy’s book, Introducing The Uncommon Lectionary, one day.  Bandy suggests different “lectionaries” (scripture readings for worship) for believers and seekers.  Which gave me the idea of doing a read thru the Bible program based on stories rather than passages.  I used one of Bandy’s lectionaries as the jumping off place, tweaked it to fit 52-weeks of readings, and put it together for use in our church.

Here are the basics:

  1. Read one story per week.  Not one per day, but one per week.  I figured we had to give people a way to succeed, not fail, so one story per week is all we suggested.
  2. Publicize the story title, reference, and summary.  We print these in our monthly newsletter and post on our website.  Example:  God Creates the World, Genesis 1-3 — This is the story of creation.  God creating the world, the universe, mankind, and all the animals.  This is basic and is written so even the most inexperienced Bible readers, including children, know what they are about to read.
  3. Cover the entire Bible in one year.  This takes some thought.  Frankly, we got bogged down in Genesis because it has so much stuff in it.  I think we spent 3-months in Genesis, and I am revising the readings to move on more quickly. 

That’s it — simple and straight-forward.  Plus, everybody can do it.  No reading was more than a chapter or two long, and some were much shorter.  If you link your website references to biblegateway.com or some other scripture site, folks can read the stories online. 

How many of our folks completed all The Great Stories of the Bible last year?  Well, I really don’t know how many others did, but I made it!