Monday 30 December 2019

Read Scripture 2020

The below post is a slightly expanded version of an email sent to people in my church congregation, following a spot in the service yesterday talking about reading the Bible through in a year and interviewing someone who did it this year (and who finished early, in October!).

Last year, several members of the congregation took up the challenge of reading the Bible all the way through in the year. They found the experience beneficial and rewarding in all sorts of ways.

If you’ve never read the Bible all the way through – and even if you have – why not have a go at doing so during 2020? It’s not as difficult or as time-consuming as you might imagine, even for those of us who don’t consider ourselves to be strong readers. Plus, there are great benefits in following a plan that takes us through the entire Bible in a year:

• It enables us to see something of the big picture of the Bible as a whole
• It prevents us from circling back to our favourite passages!
• It allows us to be surprised or puzzled or delighted by passages we’ve not read before or forgotten about
• It forms a good habit of regular engagement with the Bible
• It provides a way for us to hear God’s voice speaking to us every day

There are many different plans available: see here, for example.

During 2019, several of us followed one produced the Bible Project, called ‘ReadScripture’.

There’s a helpful video introduction here.

The ReadScripture plan goes through the whole Bible in roughly chronological order at a pace of about 3-4 chapters a day. The plan also includes a psalm every day, to pray through. In this scheme, every time you come to a new book there’s a short animated video to watch which introduces the structure and main content of the book you’re about to read – though you don’t have to watch the videos if they’re not quite your thing.

There are various ways of accessing the plan:

• If you use a smartphone or a tablet, you can download a free app – ReadScripture – which takes you through the whole year
• Or you can sign up for weekly email reminders: go to this page – scroll all the way to the foot of the page, and use the sign-up box
• Or you can download the reading plan from here and print it out

As a possible alternative to try, the Gospel Coalition have produced a plan based on Murray M’Cheyne’s method (taking the reader through the entire Bible in a year, including the Psalms and New Testament twice).

See here for further information on the plan and to sign up for a daily newsletter (with a devotional reflection from D.A. Carson), a podcast, and online articles).

Whatever scheme you follow, here are a few pointers which might be worth bearing in mind:

1. You’ll probably find it helpful to get into a rhythm. Find a moment in the day that works well for you to do the reading and try to stick to it. Some people find it valuable to schedule it as an appointment in the calendar, just as you would do with anything else important.

2. Consider working through the plan with a friend or friends. Doing a scheme like this with others provides some gentle accountability to one another, is a huge source of encouragement, helps maintain consistency, and may give some great opportunities for conversation.

3. Don’t be too discouraged if you fall behind. The key thing is not to use falling behind as a reason to stop. Depending on what works well with your personality type, try to set aside some time to catch up, or simply rejoin the plan where you currently find yourself. Or make the firm decision to do it over a longer period of time – two years or three years.

For other helpful tips, see the suggestions from ‘Joseph the Dreamer’ in the short video here.

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