Pastors, what if I could give you a secret that would increase the income in your church by 416%? What if I could guarantee a way to increase your parishioners sharing their faith with others by 228%? What if the same secret would be a key to increasing the discipleship in your church by 231%? Would you be interested? Do I have your attention, yet?
These numbers are taken from a study conducted by the Center for Bible Engagement released in August 2012. It was a survey conducted on the Key to Spiritual Growth. You can find the survey at www.centerforbibleengagement.org. The secret? These astounding numbers were caused by simply increasing the number of times individuals read the Bible in a week. The results showed a dramatic climb in spiritual growth and just as dramatic decreases in struggles and bad habits if an individual would engage in the Bible 4 times a week or more!
This begs a question be asked. If simply increasing the number of times a week an individual reads the Bible can have such a dramatic effect on their lives and on the life of a church, how do we encourage our parishioners to engage more in the Word?
You see, I think we have a major problem in our churches. For the most part, our programs and systems are producing lazy, dependent Christians. They are so dependent on Pastors and Teachers feeding them the Word, that they have stopped feeding themselves. There is nothing wrong with being fed from great preachers, I make a habit of listening to 2-4 sermons a week myself. However, I've noticed that over the last few decades there has been a steady decline in the emphasis of daily devotions and personal Bible study. More and more, I am finding believers who struggle with a daily routine of reading the Word. Yet, such a habit can be life changing. Just read the above survey and read the results yourself!
But we don't need a survey to tell us these things. The Bible, itself tells us the same. Look what James wrote in James 1:25.
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James tells us there are 4 things we need to do if we desire to be blessed in all that we do.
- We need to READ the Word intently. (whoever looks intently in the perfect law) What if we helped our parishioners engage in daily reading plans? It could change their lives!
- We need to REVIEW the Word. (and continues in it) Reviewing the Word is studying the Word. It's a step deeper than just reading. One of the best ways to examine the Word and study it is by engaging in meaningful discussion with others. What if we helped our people establish small groups to do just that, discuss and study the Word together?
- We need to REMEMBER the Word. (not forgetting what they heard) One of the most significant spiritual practices is Bible memory. Quoting verses like Jesus did to his tempter, is one of the best ways to overcome temptation. The only way to do that is through memorization. What if we encouraged people to memorize a verse a week?
- We need to RESPOND to the Word. (but doing it) This is an active faith. What if we created opportunities for our people to act on the Word they've just been taught?
These steps and corresponding questions are something me and my staff are discussing right now. We are trying to discover the best way to encourage Bible engagement among our people. Because we believe, as the Bible tells us that it is the best way for them to be blessed in what they do.
Question: How many times a week do you read the Bible personally?