By Thom S. Rainer
Reading and studying the Bible daily may be the most important act a Christian can do to grow as a disciple. Unfortunately, our research shows only 39 percent of churchgoers read the Bible in a systematic manner every day.
That leaves a large portion of people who could use some encouragement and prompting to make daily Bible reading a priority.
The Word of God is powerful and transformative, but many in our churches are missing out on its transformative power. Here are some practical steps church leaders can take to get their church members involved in daily Bible reading.
1. Help congregants see the big picture of Scripture and how it is connected to their lives. Teach a broad overview of the Bible so members can understand how the stories, chapters, and verses they read fit together in the grand narrative of Scripture.
2. Model a healthy hermeneutic. Pastors have the opportunity to show their congregation how to read the Bible in context. As you preach on a particular passage, explain the human author’s original intent in writing the Scripture. Ask and answer questions about what was happening historically and culturally when the text was written.
Help people think through what the text would have meant to its first audience and then move to how it applies to us today. Remember, the way you preach a text on Sunday morning will influence how your people engage the Bible during the week.
3. Encourage people to join small groups for Bible study. A Lifeway Research study found people who attend some type of small group are more than twice as likely as non-group attenders to read their Bible regularly (67 percent vs. 27 percent). Nothing can replace groups reading and discussing Scripture together.
4. Talk about your own Bible reading and how God is using Scripture to transform your life. Let people know you read the Bible for personal growth, not only sermon or teaching prep. It’s important church members see that their leaders have made daily Bible reading a priority.
5. Give them permission to ask questions. One reason people give for not reading the Bible is that they don’t understand it. Remind your people that it’s okay to ask questions and wrestle with the text. Talk about your own questions and how God has used them to grow your own understanding of His Word.
6. Provide a Bible-reading plan for the whole church. The new year is a natural time to start a new initiative, but you need to start planning now for how you’ll lead your congregation through God’s Word over the next year.
Consider having a time of commitment in December. Provide a printed or digital plan to begin reading January 1. Use email, newsletters, or social media to give weekly reminders.
7. Encourage members to share what God is teaching them through their daily Bible reading. Provide video testimonies of transformed lives of those who engage in regular Bible study and reading.
As church leaders, we have the opportunity to help new believers and mature believers engage God’s Word. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of daily Bible reading. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more we become like Him.
Imagine what would happen in our churches, in our nation, and in our world if all believers were experiencing the transforming power of God’s Word on a daily basis.
THOM S. RAINER (@ThomRainer) is the founder and CEO of Church Answers and former president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources.