Recent findings from Lifeway Research show a third of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly (32%) say they read the Bible personally every day.
As church leaders, we strive to engage our people with the Bible. But with many different personalities and learning styles represented in our congregations, it’s hard to recommend a one-size-fits-all approach.
A handful of people from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) team shared how they approach the discipline of reading Scripture. Perhaps these provide some ideas for study you can pass along to those you lead.
1. ONE BOOK AT A TIME, WITH NO SCHEDULE
I’m a terribly disorganized person. Every single time I’ve ever started a reading plan, I’ve been behind within a week, and that’s made me run from reading the Bible.
That being said, one of the most fruitful ways I’ve been able to engage with Scripture is to start a book and read when I can. This means I read a few chapters of the Bible three days a week or so.
On top of that, I try to find passages I can meditate on throughout my busy week. Managing the CSB’s social media presence is pretty demanding right now, so whenever I get a moment to breathe, I try to dwell on a specific passage.
I’ve been working through Job, so the current passage I’m delighting in is Job 16:4-5.
If you were in my place I could also talk like you. I could string words together against you and shake my head at you. Instead, I would encourage you with my mouth, and the consolation from my lips would bring you relief. [Job to Eliphaz]
This passage reminds me of Hebrews 4:14-16, when the author tells us we have a high priest in Jesus who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and who was tempted in every way as we are but did not sin.
I take these verses and meditate on them and make an attempt to apply them to my life: Christ would be totally entitled to speak down to me because He was perfect and absolutely better than me, but instead, He chooses to encourage and console me.
So I can find rest in that reality, and I can choose—through His Spirit given to me—to do the same for others. I want to bring relief and encouragement to those in my life through my speech.
In a couple weeks I will meditate on a different passage, but I want to make it a discipline to consistently be dwelling on God’s Word, even when it feels impossible to spend substantial time in it.
MICHAEL WOJCIK mans the helm of the CSB’s social media presence for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, working on creative ways to engage the CSB’s current and future audience.
2. From Devouring to Spoonful Reading
My approach to Bible reading is ever-changing. Life is full these days as a working mom with two kids under four.
I remember devouring the entire New Testament in two months the summer after I got my first Bible. I read from a lawn chair for hours, jotting down all the exciting things I was learning and all the questions I would later work through with friends.
I’ve done inductive studies, read alongside study Bible notes, commentaries, theological books, sermon notes, and articles.
But my last four years have looked nothing like this. These days, I’m all about Bible-reading plans. I’m currently reading through the Bible in a year with a YouVersion reading plan. I listen to the audio while folding laundry, washing dishes, or hitting the treadmill.
I go for the Bible in my glove box when I’m a few minutes early for preschool pick up. I read it on the app when my reminder buzzes at 9 p.m. And sometimes I’m even up before my kids to read in a more focused and undistracted way.
Don’t let me fool you, though. I’m an unmentionable number of days behind right now (like more than a month), which is pretty par for the course.
Sometimes my kids are up at all hours of the night, and I just close my eyes in those in-between moments, leaving dishes stacked, laundry piles growing, and the Bible unopened. Sometimes, the Lord calls to mind a topic or passage that I just have to go check out, and I diverge from the plan.
But here’s the thing. I’ve come to realize that months and years start going by quickly. And I’m not going to just wake up some day and be a woman of the Word, growing in wisdom and looking more and more like Jesus just because I’m getting older.
It’s a day-by-day, long walk with the Lord. It’s a commitment to being in His Word—not merely for the sake of knowledge or box-checking—but to grow in believing it and applying it as I walk with him. Even if it’s a teaspoon at a time.
I mentioned the grocery list of ways I used to approach God’s Word, not for a pat on the back, but because I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I poured over Scripture when I had those long summer afternoons to myself. It has been invaluable in the years that followed.
Even those passages and themes that didn’t seem to apply to me then—boy, when various circumstances and trials did show up, God’s Word became very real and alive.
And now, when I only have the time and energy for a spoonful of Bible reading, there’s a well of Scripture in my mind to draw from.
ANGIE CHEATHAM is a Project Manager for Useful Group and serves on the CSB Marketing Team.
Right now, my Bible reading looks like gulping down long passages, 5 to 25 chapters of the Bible at a time. It’s taught me a lot—including that I’m probably never doing this again.
I’m a word person. I’ve written or edited most of the emails from CSB “First to Know.” Back at the end of 2018, I read this article on a Bible-reading plan for readers, and it challenged me to try reading the whole Bible as fast as I could by reading nothing else until I got to the end.
At first, that’s what I did. I spent evenings devouring Genesis and Exodus. I listened to a few chapters in the car while I drove to work. I fell asleep on at least one Sunday afternoon with Leviticus open in front of me.
I also came home many evenings too tired to read 20 chapters, so I didn’t open my Bible at all. When I was reading, I had to fight to be more aware of the richness of the words than of my progress across the pages. My race with myself was keeping me from sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet and believing He’s happy to see me.
The all-or-nothing approach I’ve taken is not for everyone. I’m not even sure it’s for me—I’ve been slowing down and reintroducing some other reading. But I do recommend reading big chunks of the Bible.
When we read long passages of Scripture, we can see God’s covenantal love stretch across the chapters. Again and again, His people rebel, He disciplines, they repent, and He forgives.
It could become banal, except that He’s the holy Creator and Judge of the universe. In light of that, His forgiveness is absurd—absurd enough to reassure our own wayward hearts.
As we read how God instructs His people in the law and what He rebukes them for through the prophets, we see His priorities. We see how much attention God pays to our hearts, to real-life justice and to pure worship, not just to our religious practices.
Biographies of once-famous kings and warriors fly past like streetlights on a highway, their lives flickering into death, while chapters detail the lives of people like Abraham, Moses, and Elijah—flawed but faithful people who sought the face of God.
Maybe by the time I get to Revelation, I’ll want to do this every year, or maybe I’ll be thrilled to read more slowly again. But either way, this has given me a new appreciation for long-distance reading.
Rachel Poel is the Content Strategy Lead at Useful Group and serves on the CSB Marketing Team.