How to read the Good Book
Three outstanding and generous organisations have coordinated their websites and resources to help us read the Good Book:
Using these three websites allows us to bring everything together: the reading plan; the videos; the small group resources; and deeper theological studies.
Step One: The Reading Plan
If you are a user of apps - download the Read Scripture app. It's brilliant. Each time you open it you'll be invited to take a deep breath. Then on some days there will be a short illustrative video which you'll find super-helpful in understanding the readings. Then you scroll through the reading for the day. Finally, the App encourages you to stop and meditate on a Psalm.
If you don't use apps you can print off the reading plan for the year (or ask the church office to do so for you). You can watch the videos on a computer at the Bible Project (scroll down to the Old Testament and the New Testament to watch videos linked to the daily readings). Remember to slow down, take a deep breath and allow time to read the texts and to meditate on the Psalm.
If you prefer to listen, rather than just read, you can use one of the audio books in the resources link whilst you follow along with the bible open in front of you.
By the way, the translation being used by the app is the ESV. This is a good translation but you are free to read the bible in your own favourite translation if you prefer.
Step Two: Change Your Life
You will need to allow about 30 minutes to do this without rushing (that's 1/48ths of a day). You probably don't have a spare half an hour in your schedule so the first thing to do is to reorganise things and put 30 minutes carefully aside for this life-changing exploration. You may need to re-arrange your day or your TV-watching or screen time or hobbies or habits. Don't just try and squeeze it in! Maybe split it into two with 15 minutes early in the day and 15 minutes later in the day. It works best if you don't rush but allow time to reflect, pray and read at leisure.
You may well have to change your life to join in with reading the bible in a year - but I promise you, it will change your life too!
Step Three: Join the Team
In other words, join in your small group discussions about the bible with enthusiasm. Support and encourage others who may be finding it difficult to keep reading. During 2019 most of the small groups will have a Good Book focus most weeks and it will help you a lot if you are reasonably up to date with the reading plan.
Step Four: Go Deeper
If you would like to dive further into Bible Study then you could join the Vineyard Training cohort led by Anne Button and Liz Harden which is going to start with a study of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible).
Or you can sign up to the Leeds School of Theology (starting in January) which provides a great biblical grounding although it isn't linked to the Good Book plan.
In addition some of the Sunday preaching will be examining the major themes of the bible as they arise over the course of the year.
Step Five: Keep Reading
Even if you love reading the bible already, this won't always be easy. There will be days when you won't feel like reading. There will be times when you read long stretches of scripture which are obtuse and difficult. Some days you may find you have some extra time and energy for reading - so do an additional chapter or two, to get ahead!
There may well be times when you drop behind the daily reading plan - if so you may be able to catch up another time but if not, just skip to the correct reading for the day. Don't start to feel guilty - it's not a competition!
But either way, just keep reading - it will be worth it and you will get there and in a year's time you'll be able to say "I read the bible all the way through in a year". Won't it be a celebration when we can all say this together!? More importantly, by doing this I firmly believe God will speak into our lives. As we begin to understand the way He has revealed Himself in scripture we will encounter Him in deeper and deeper ways and we will be grow and change like a baby learning to walk.