Reading the Bible in Community
Life is a team sport. God clearly values community and loves his church. As we run this race together, he tells us to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Reading the Bible regularly is a habit that has spurred me on over the years, and I've wanted to encourage others to tap into this resource, too. In the same way that my kids are learning to feed themselves (even if it’s messy), all Christians need to learn to become self-feeders. We all need to be eating the "good stuff," feasting on the Bible, because we do not live “on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4)
For some, though, regular Bible reading can be a habit undertaken from a sense of obligation. It can feel like a heavy burden. I haven’t always known how to encourage others in this area without adding to that sense of obligation. This year, though, our church decided to read the whole Bible together in one year, and it has provided many opportunities for us to spur one another on.
Since we’re all reading the same passages each week, it’s much easier to reference what we’re reading during Community Group or on social media. I'm less concerned about sounding like I’m gloating when I talk about reading the Bible. And because we’re doing it together, it doesn’t feel like a heavy, insurmountable thing.
I’ve also seen the benefits of reading the Bible as a community when we meet on Sunday mornings. Frequently, people bring words of encouragement to the church from that week's reading. Often during Community Group prayer times, people pull from Scriptures we’ve read recently, praying them over each other.
It’s been rich to know that my friends are reading the same Scriptures I’m reading, day in and day out. When we come to parts of the Bible that are harder to press through, I know others are doing the same thing and we’re processing together. Our church uses a Bible app that allows us to participate in group discussions about each day’s reading, and others regularly bring fresh perspective, pointing out things I didn’t notice initially.
If your church has a Bible reading plan and you’re nervous about committing to follow it, I’d say - just start. Just commit to the first 30 days and see how it goes. And if you miss a few days and get discouraged, jump right back in. Check off the days you’ve missed, even if you don’t get around to reading them, because looking at those unchecked days will just drag you down. Think about it like this: if we miss a meal, we don't give up eating forever. We just start again. Do the same thing with God’s word and see if it doesn’t feed you, sustain you, and spur you on toward love and good works.