2022 is upon us, and just like previous years, there’s likely a flurry of activity for church leaders to look for resources to encourage their church to read the Bible in the new year. And while there’s plenty of resources out there, there are some useful guiding principles to keep in mind in order to provide the readers with a rich devotional experience as they dig into the Word.
What are the principles? Here are five to look for:
- The resource should be simple to understand. Take your pick: will you read the whole Bible in 2022, a book or a few books, or either the New or Old Testaments? Whatever you choose, make sure that the concept is easy to grasp. For example, a church leader may recommend reading through the New Testament in a year by focusing on one chapter a day on weekdays only. Another idea is to having members read through the Bible using a chronological Bible plan to see the Bible in its historical setting. Whatever the experience is, make sure that the scope of the reading is explained and easy to grasp from the start.
- The resource should be simple to navigate. While there are many, many reading plans out there, not all plans are alike. Some require a lot of page turns and navigations through books of the Bible that can get confusing, especially for those who are not familiar with the Bible. Instead, find a resource that is simple to use so that following the plan is as intuitive as possible.
- The resource should be simple to reengage. Sometimes, despite the greatest of intentions, life gets in the way. Readers miss a day or two and fall behind. People get tired and stop. It happens. A good resource should allow a reader to reengage at whatever point they are at. If, for example, a reader stops reading in March, but in June wants to join again, they can just start anywhere. They can then finish the plan with a sense of freedom to finish well.
- The resource should allow for reflection. Some reading plans are wonderful, but don’t always allow enough freedom for the reader to reflect on the passages being read. For example, the HEAR method gives the reader a chance to reflect what they have read through a simple to use journaling format. The point here is not that the reader is to fulfill a legalistic checkbox to read the Bible as fast as possible, but instead to find a way to connect with the Lord in a meaningful, faith growing journey.
- The resource should be simply convenient. Since leaders are looking to help readers connect with the Lord devotionally, it is a good idea to make sure that the resource is convenient to access. For example, the YouVersion app (or at the Bible.com website) has a healthy supply of devotional resources. Personally, I used it in 2021 to read through the Bible chronologically with a group of readers, and I used the HEAR method to journal a passage that the Lord spoke to me about. Having access to that app on my phone or tablet made it very convenient for me, and was especially helpful if I happened to be traveling that day.
I hope that these are helpful, useful principles to help guide your recommendations to believers and nonbelievers alike as they engage with the Word of God. Again, there are many resources out there, both for free and for purchase, but following these principles will help you to provide a rich experience for readers who want to connect with God’s Word.
Dr. Fran Trascritti is a husband, father, and grandfather to 13 beautiful children. He is the Growth Team Leader for the Illinois Baptist State Association. He and his wife, Teresa, live in Springfield, IL.