A good chunk of your congregation doesn't open the Bible except on Sunday mornings.
A 2017 survey by LifeWay Research found that of people who attend church regularly, only 39 percent try to read something in the Bible daily.
Pardon my bluntness, but what are you going to do about that, pastor?
The lethargy we see in our church members toward the Bible doesn't make sense.
You're preaching your heart out every weekend. You've studied the Bible. You know it. You love it.
It's God's Word!
So why doesn't your church love the Bible? Why aren't they eager to study it, talk about it and live it out?
How can you teach your congregation to know and love the Bible?
Scaffold Their Bible Learning
I wonder if what your church needs isn't another sermon on a book or passage of the Bible, but a series that helps them understand the whole Bible.
Educators call is scaffolding.
You have to hang new things that you're learning on something you already know. What you're teaching the people in the pews may not be sticking in their brains if they don't know what to connect it to.
They may forget your brilliant sermon as soon as they walk out the door.
And worse, they may be reluctant to open their Bibles at home if it just doesn't make sense to them.
Maybe you need to preach a series, not on the Bible, but about the Bible.
A Solution to Your Problem
What if you found a way to give your church members a solid understanding of the Bible. A framework. A scaffold.
And what if it could happen in just one sermon series, backed up by daily personal reading and weekly small group discussions.
Would you be interested in changing the trajectory of your congregation's Bible knowledge and passion? Especially if you knew how to do it in five weeks?
Here's the journey we took.
I wrote The Bible Questions to build in my church a love for the Bible. See if this simple plan will help you teach your church to understand and love the Bible in a new way, too.
A 5-Step Plan to Teach your Church to Love the Bible
1. Schedule a Bible Questions Church Campaign
The advantage of a church campaign is that everyone in your church is learning the same thing—in weekend services, small groups and at home during the week. Conversations happen. People are excited. There's growth and momentum.
We like to do two church campaigns a year. I recommend beginning in late September and late January. That gives you time to publicize the campaign once people get back to church after summer and after the holidays. And people are more open to starting new things (like a small group and a personal Quiet Time) in those two times of the year.
The Bible Questions campaign is a good place to start if you're new to church campaigns. It's not evangelism-oriented so you're not trying to rally your church to invite unchurched people while you're organizing your first church campaign. One thing at a time is easier.
And because it will be life-changing and inspiring for your congregation, it will build a "church campaigns are awesome" culture in your church. The Bible Questions is a sure win.
2. Be sure your own love for the Bible is red-hot.
You're a pro, but are you in the Bible for your own sake?
How about if you renew your first love for God's Word by shifting out of your routine to meet with God in a different way?
- Go someplace you haven't been in the Bible recently, like the prophetic books.
- Or use a new study guide, like The Self-Feeder.
- Or spend more time in it, like A Day in Prayer.
The key question here is: am I ready to authentically teach my congregation to love the Bible?
3. Get your staff, board and leaders excited about it.
I think in concentric circles. My first circle is my board. The next circle is the staff. Then next are key volunteer leaders.
When I want to build excitement and momentum about something new, first I share it with the board and then with my staff.
And then I call together other key leaders in the church. And I make it a party. That might mean that it's at my house, and it definitely means that there's food. I include a few staff and board leaders so their contagion is caught by the volunteers.
I tell them:
- why I'm excited about doing the campaign
- what the campaign looks like—what it's about, its features
- what I hope it will do for our church
- about the opportunity it provides for them to reach out to invite their friends.
And I ask them to be small group leaders and take their groups through the campaign small group study and individual reading.
If I can afford it, I buy them a book and give it to them early. I answer their questions and I talk about it a lot.
They catch my excitement. Your leaders will catch yours, too.
4. Give people a vision for their transformation.
Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. In anything.
It could be motivating for your church members to think that in 3,000 hours they could be good, in 5,000 hours they could be really good and by 10,000 hours they could be truly proficient in the Bible. That's achievable with persistence and a plan. I show you how to get 10,000 hours in Bible here.
But the thing is, you don't master the Bible like you would master a sport or an instrument or a profession. It's the living Word of God, so the mastering comes from heaven.
You don't want to master the Bible, as much as to be mastered by the Bible.
Psalm 119 gives us a picture of the transformation that the Bible works in us:
Your commandments have made me wiser than my enemies, for they are continually with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the elders, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You have taught me. How sweet are Your words to the taste of my mouth! Sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Ps. 119:98-103).
Paul goes on in Romans 12:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).
And Paul tells his protegé Timothy:
Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth' (2 Tim. 2:15).
Do more verses come to mind?
The Bible is one of God's major instruments of transformation in our lives. He's been doing it for millennia, and he will do His work in your church members, too.
Everyone wants to become something more than they are. Knowing that God will do that work in them through the Bible is a vision they can catch.
5. Help them develop a daily habit of reading the Bible.
The most important individual take-away from the Bible Questions campaign is a daily habit of reading the Bible. It's the evidence of the value we place on the Bible, and it's the key to our growing in love and understanding of the Bible and the God who wrote it.
But new, good habits don't come easily. Lack of time and commitment, laziness, inconsistency, fear of failure, and lack of focus are a few of the reasons we're not all powered up by good habits all the time.
What's the best way to encourage a new habit of daily Bible reading? Here are a few ideas:
- Tell the stories you hear of life-change that came from the daily time in the Bible they began during the Bible Questions campaign.
- Make the commitment so small that it's really hard to fail. Encourage them to spend just a few minutes reading just a paragraph or two in the Bible.
- Do something together. Recommend a resource that your denomination uses, small group studies with daily Bible reading or start everyone on The Self Feeder.
- Mention what you learn in your daily quiet times during your sermons.
- Encourage people to get back on track when they slip off.
- Keep talking about the importance of daily time in the Word.
"Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day." —Jim Rohn
This article originally appeared at pastormentor.com.
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