By Janette Saavedra
Trinity UMC, Mountain View, CA
Trinity United Methodist Church in Mountain View, California, would like to challenge every congregation in our Annual Conference – no, in all of United Methodism – to read the entire Bible in one year. Why are we making this challenge?
It all started when my husband, Juan Saavedra, came home from work and told me, “I had the funniest phone call today. A salesman called and said to me, ‘Pastor, do you know that 80% of Bible believing Christians have never read the Bible?’ I started to laugh and said, ‘How can they be Bible believing if they’ve never read the Bible? They’re not Bible believing, they’re preacher believing!’”
That got me to thinking, and to praying. To my congregation I lifted up the challenge to take one year to read the entire Bible together. My congregation was enthusiastic in their response.
We prayed about it for a month, and on the first Sunday of Advent we began our trek together. Using weekly bulletin inserts and sending the readings out by email we have about a dozen people keeping current in the readings, and another dozen who have read more of the Bible this year than ever before in their lives. Here are some of the benefits we’ve been experiencing:
- People who have been loosely connected to the congregation have been some of the most dedicated in keeping current with the readings
- We have a weekly Bible study, which is the best attended study we’ve have in years – with fantastic discussions
- Reading the entire Bible is giving a different understanding from what is gained by reading a paragraph here, and a paragraph there
- Some people receiving the weekly emails are forwarding them on to others, who have expressed appreciation for being included
- Our understanding of the Scriptures is deepening
- Our relationships to one another are deepening
- Our love of God is growing
I designed a curriculum titled, “Bible in a Year,” developed specifically for this project to combat many of the problems I anticipated would be encountered in such an endeavor.
In addition, I am structuring my weekly sermons as a follow-up to our Bible study, which has manifold blessings:
- The readings are structured to reflect the Christian year
- My Sunday sermons directly relate to the congregation’s devotional life throughout the week
- We’ve had sermons on topics we had never heard from the pulpit before!
This is too good to keep to ourselves! We challenge YOU and your congregation to read the entire Bible in one year. If you would like to accept this challenge, or would like more information about the Bible in a Year curriculum, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and type “Bible in a Year” in the subject line. I would be happy to send you a FAQ sheet.