I maybe on thin ice with this title because LifeWay publishes literally tons of Bibles. LifeWay genuinely desires to help you make disciples, which starts by living like one.
To make disciples, we must first be a disciple. Dr. Dan Garland
“Disciple,” when used as a verb, denotes action, but when used as a noun, can also be translated as “learner” or “student.” Before we lead our church to adopt a Bible reading plan, remember that they will do what we do and go where we go. Since the discipleship culture in our church begins with the pastor, we need to have a sustainable spiritual growth plan for our own lives.
I want to carefully challenge some common assumptions with these three questions.
Why Separate Sermon Preparation?
One of the most common questions I get at LifeWay’s Pastor Date Nights and Roundtables is, “Should we separate personal study time with sermon preparation?” My guest panelists vary in their opinions, as will the readers of this post. Conventional wisdom says we should always separate them, but I do not see why they need to be mutually exclusive. Focusing primarily on one text all week kindles a fire in my heart that grows into a bonfire by Sunday.
My devotional text is related to my upcoming sermon about 50% of the time, while my guilt for doing so has been reduced to 0%.
Why Read Through the Bible in a Year?
Having read through the Bible several times in several translations, I love the whole counsel of God and want you to also. Several times I have used one year Bible reading plans, which have occasionally stretched out into two year plans. I commend these plans as well as a few others for you to consider here. As a busy pastor, cramming as much Scripture into my brain as possible all week mostly frustrates me.
On one leg of our recent wedding anniversary trip, Janet and I had three days in London. We were tempted to cram as much into those three days as possible, but instead prioritized what we wanted to see the most and just enjoyed ourselves.
Some people read and absorb faster than others; just make sure the objective of your current reading plan is more about intimacy than efficiency. It was when I started to journal more consistently that I began to sense God leading me to pull over and park on a single chapter or verse occasionally. I typically read a couple of chapters a day, but I am often drawn to reading more or less than that. The bottom line is that I ditched my self-imposed reading timetable so that I could go deeper into God’s Word at the pace of God’s Spirit.
Why Try to Grow Alone?
I almost hate to admit this, but the spiritual growth of our church is intrinsically tied to our personal growth. Although nobody lives in a constant state of revival (in season, out of season), our walk with God needs to be consistent enough to keep growing as disciples. Inconsistent prayer and Bible study will lead to inconsistent transformation.
We tell our members that they cannot grow in isolation, and, of course, neither can we. Pastor, make sure you are in a small group, discipleship group, mentoring relationship—or all three. You do not need to always be the teacher, by the way. If you are, then you are not being a good equipper.
This title is more than mere hyperbole—I really am getting more out of the Bible by reading less of it. I am not reading it less often, or for less time, but I am listening better as I read the Bible at a slower pace.
What is your preferred Bible reading plan? What do you like about it. Who else is reading with you?