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Read the Bible

Read your BibleFox Church, USA, surveyed and discovered that 80% of their congregation did not read the Bible. People didn’t know Scriptures, except what they heard in sermons. And they had no commitment to change. Many did not even know basic Bible stories. The survey revealed to the leadership that teaching the Bible does not lead people to open it for themselves. But the leaders believed that God works with individuals.

The Fox discovery plagues numerous congregations. The role of leaders is to facilitate the process of freeing God’s Word from the confines of the pulpit to put it in the hands of the pew.

Lots of leaders suffer from “the curse of knowledge.” They assume others know the basics, like they do. They also tend to assume that people value the Word and have the study tools to handle it. Neither of these is true.

Surveys indicate that most people don’t read the Bible because they:

  1. don’t know their way around in it.
  2. don’t know how to pronounce difficult names.
  3. are not sure they can understand it.
  4. can’t follow through by themselves with their commitment to reading it.

Bible Challenge” became Fox’s effort to engage individuals to read the Bible for themselves The leaders organized a three part strategy that was difficult … but attainable:

  1. The concept of a ‘challenge’ was chosen specifically: with men in mind. Men balk at reading, but their ears perked up on learning the program was similar to running a marathon or climbing a mountain. The ‘challenge’ was presented very clearly: “This won’t be easy. You will need to commit to work your butt off to do it. But if you do, you will accomplish something big, something significant.” Each person had to commit at least 15 minutes, daily, reading scripture within a specific time frame.
  2. Everyone needs to be coached. People need help to keep them committed to reading. Being part of a group for mutual encouragement was essential for daily and weekly success. Regular times together for accountability resulted in tremendous leaps forward. It brought huge victories and a rightful cause to celebrate. Hebrews 10:24-25 comes into its full meaning: “Make sure that you get together continually so that you will know how to stir each other up…” (KJP) This encouragement provided a sense of accomplishment about reading the Scriptures and generated a warm sense of community.
  3. The leadership model was challenged through coaching people to continue to grow in their own engagement of Scripture and to strengthen their own model. Coaching formed a synergistic, step-by-step strategy ensuring the average person in the Body was being challenged, encouraged, and receiving support. The result was the creation of positive peer pressure, and an expectation of joining a community to encounter God’s Word together.

I grew up in a family situation that formally read the Bible three times each day. (After every meal!) And each family member was held accountable to read it personally each day. We attended a Body of Believers that frequently held Sword Drills. (Competition ran high!) And preachers invariably used passages / verses scattered throughout Scripture AND expected congregants to look up each reference! When I got to Bible College I was quite surprised to find classmates who had never read the whole Bible yet. Actually, at first I couldn’t believe it. When I went to churches that had ‘pew Bibles’ I wondered what they were for.

I think that is what got me into doing Bible translation: both for ‘unreached’ people, as well as ‘reached’ people who don’t read it!

Providing God’s Word is foundational to our ministry … how is your Bible challenge?

… john


(original e-newsletter post –  September 27, 2012)


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