Sixteen years ago, while in college, my church and Baptist Student Union challenged, encouraged, and held me accountable for something like no one had before: To read the Bible. I had been a Christian for 15 years leading up to that point. Along the way, I had bits and pieces of scripture embedded into memory. I would follow, in spurts, various reading plans that had a few verses here and a few there. But I had never actually devoted myself to read the whole of scripture, or even large chunks of it.
And the spiritual illiteracy showed.
But in the fall of 2000, that began to change. In that time, I have used various plans, some from different ministry resources and some homemade, to read through the Bible. In 2015-16, sensing a need to encourage my church members to read their Bibles, I developed a two-year plan that, if followed, would take them through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice while reading on average 3 chapters a day, 5 days a week.
This week, we finish that plan. For me, this will have been my 8th time in the last 16 years of reading through the Bible.
In addition to this, there are several books of the Bible that I know quite well by spending extra time studying them for the purpose of preaching or teaching (Hebrews, 1 Peter, John, and 2 Timothy top this list). But for 2017, I’m aiming to do something different.
For those in my church who want to do a one-year Bible reading plan, I’m encouraging the use of The Read Scripture Plan by the minds behind The Bible Project. This plan looks at Scripture both thematically and chronological, dividing the Bible into 15 thematic “chapters.” Those who use it will read and pray through a psalm a day (for about 2.5 trips through the Psalms), and will read two or three other chapters each day (though they have “skimming” days through larger chunks like genealogies and tabernacle minutia). In addition to this, they have available their well-done videos available online for free, introducing each book as well as several other themes in Scripture.
Personally, though, I have decided to use 2017 to become more intimately acquainted with four books of the Bible, separate from my sermon prep. I plan on spending three months on each book, reading and rereading, as well as reading through a major commentary for each—two books from the New Testament and two from the Old. For January-March, I plan on focusing on Romans, then Leviticus for April-June, and Mark for July-September. I’m still pondering what to do for the second Old Testament book to the end the year (suggestions welcomed, wanting to go someplace other than the Pentateuch).
So, how about you? If you’ve never read all the way through the Bible, I encourage you to do just that in 2017. Otherwise, what is your plan for Bible reading in the upcoming year?