When I first heard about Read the Bible for Life, my impressions were a little mixed. On the one hand, I was excited about the possiblity of helping multitudes of people in a local church get reacquainted (or acquainted) with God’s Word, and read it through in its entirety – many of them for the very first time! But on the other hand, I thought “Oh great, another church program!” I will admit I was a little tentative about committing to another glitzy church program. To be honest, I have been worn out 40 days at a time!
I think the Lord began to soften my heart about committing myself to the Read the Bible for Life strategy. I mean, come on… what could be wrong with encouraging people to read God’s Word? So I grabbed the complimentary copy of Read the Bible for Life I received at a meeting at LifeWay headquarters in December and started reading it. It did not take long when the dark facts had me convinced:
Only 16% of our church attenders read the Bible every day;
68% of our church attenders did not read the Bible at all this week. (p. 8 )
How can we expect our people to look more like Jesus when they are not interacting with God’s Word on a daily basis? How can we be in touch with the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit when many, no make that most, of our church members are so out of touch with the Bible?
Finally, is it reasonable for us to expect the people who sit in our small groups, sing in our services, and profess their belief in Jesus Christ, to read the Bible every day in our modern, busy world?
My conclusion: YES! Yes it is not only reasonable for our people to read the Bible daily, it must become an expectation! In his book The Shape of Faith to Come, Brad Waggoner states that the most common characteristic of a growing follower of Christ is that he or she reads the Bible every day!
Why should we as a pastors or church leaders lead our church into a plan to help each one of them establish a godly habit of reading the Bible every day? It is not because it will grow the church (it probably will), or to help LifeWay sell books! We need to lead our people to read God’s word because it is the biblical thing to do! It is the right thing to do!
This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Joshua 1:8 (HCSB)
We will lead our people closer to God when reading the Bible daily moves from an assumption to an expectation.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some thoughts about how to implement Read the Bible for Life in a local church strategy…