2018 THE YEAR OF BIBLICAL LITERACY
Research says that 80% of bible believing Christians don’t read their bibles on a regular basis. As one LifeWay research study found:
“…90 percent of churchgoers agree “I desire to please and honour Jesus in all I do,” and 59 percent agree with the statement: “Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths.” While the majority agree with both statements, there is a significant difference in the strength of agreement. Nearly two-thirds of churchgoers (64 percent) strongly agree with the first statement, but only 20 percent strongly agree with the second.
However, when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible “Once a Week” and another 22 percent say “Once a Month” or “A Few Times a Month.”
We feel quite strongly that statistics like this need to be addressed at a local church level and so feel led in this next season to go on a journey of fresh Biblical Literacy as a church.
To do this we are going to engaging in a programme developed by a couple of different churches in conjunction with the people behind the Bible Project and the Read Scripture App.
Perhaps you are somewhere on the spectrum of being new to the Bible and curious where to begin reading and being someone who reads through the Bible continuously and wants to give the Year of Biblical Literacy a try.
Wherever you are on the spectrum, you are welcomed. The Year of Biblical Literacy’s strength is its accessibility—a simple (even if challenging) reading plan, a series of fun and informative videos, and thoughtful personal Huddle materials and sermons.
Over the year we will cover four layers: a personal layer, a communal layer, a worshipful layer, and an educational layer. The Hope is these layers will work together, hopefully providing a more complete context and clarity as the year goes on.
Below is a brief outline of each layer and how we are intending them to be experienced:
1. THE PERSONAL LAYER
The personal layer is about learning the Scriptures through a daily commitment to opening your heart and mind to God through the spiritual discipline of Bible reading.
The bulk of your time during the Year of Biblical Literacy (YOBL) will be spent reading the Scriptures. The reading plan usually consists of a few chapters of a given book of the Bible + 1 Psalm. Most of the daily readings take around 30 minutes to finish. Some might prefer to break up their reading throughout the day, reading one chapter in the morning and one chapter in the evening. It is important to find the pace that works best for you given your schedule, commitments and the natural limitations of your life. The point of YOBL is not to rush through Scripture to say you finished in a year but to become more biblically literate, and thus, more formed by the Bible in your relationship with God. If this means taking it slower (or faster) than the reading plan suggests, please do so.
Watching Read Scripture Videos
The Bible Project has created beautifully illustrated introductory videos to every book in the Bible as well as some of the major themes in Scripture. These videos give you a roadmap of what is going on in a given book, the historical context, and what to look for or notice while you’re reading. The videos are meant to be both an introduction and a reference to supplement your reading. In some ways, the Read Scripture videos are the easiest part of YOBL to incorporate and keep up within your day to day life.The personal layer is about learning the Scriptures through a daily commitment to opening your heart and mind to God through the spiritual discipline of Bible reading.
2. THE COMMUNAL LAYER
The communal layer is about experiencing Scripture together.
The Bible is a communal book. It was meant to be read and discussed in community with others. We want to encourage everyone to form a small community, what we call a huddle with 3 or 4 friends to help distill a week’s reading into a time of connection, prayer, and discussion with others who are also going through YOBL. If you need help forming a group you can journey with over the coming year, please let us know as we would love to help you.
There will be YOBL Huddle notes that will be posted on our website and they will offer questions and exercises meant to lead to a deeper understanding and intimacy with God and others. Sometimes these questions are focused on a particular story from the week’s reading. Sometimes they are questions that invite individuals to more vulnerably share the deep, true parts of who they are in light of what was read. The notes are designed to be an aid and not a constraint, so please use the elements you find most helpful and please remember the goal is not just intellectual knowledge but also true and beautiful connection with Jesus and your Huddle community.
The goal of these YOBL Huddles is to take 60 minutes each week in community with others to discuss what you have been reading.
3. THE WORSHIPFUL LAYER
The worshipful layer is about experiencing God in Scripture and worship on a Sunday.
Our Sunday teachings over the coming year will loosely followed the daily reading plan so we will be teaching out of a relatively similar place to where you will be in the readings throughout the year.
By doing this, we hope to be able to provide everyone with greater context to the story of God in parts of the Bible that are often overlooked, taken out of context, or dismissed.
If, as you are reading, you come across a part of the Bible that you wish to learn more about or to hear a teaching on, then our aim is to build a bank of associated sermons over the year. Which we hope will provide you with more clarity and wisdom to better understand context and God within the story of the Bible.
4. THE EDUCATIONAL LAYER
The educational layer is about expounding upon key themes in the Bible to learn or re-learn the context of the Bible.
Throughout the Year of Biblical Literacy, we are looking to host a number of different lectures by different experts, these lectures will be intentionally more academic and give us an opportunity to unpack of some of the harder questions and topics surrounding our understanding of the Bible.
We are also looking to partner with Vineyard Institute as they launch a brand new learning package for members of Vineyard Churches in the UK & Ireland, more information will follow in early February 2018.