Almost a year ago we started talking about doing a “40 Day Bible Challenge” as a leadership team. The big idea was to ask our people to read through the entire New Testament in the two months leading up to Easter 2013. Our goal was to have 3,000 people who would commit to reading!
The stats tell us 700 people a day stop reading the Bible and never come back. While the average home in our country has 4.3 Bibles … understanding of the “big story of Jesus” is at an all time low. There’s no doubt that we had our work cut out for us attempting to motivate our people to jump on board and read such a huge part of the text.
In the end we’ve had almost 5,000 people pick up Bibles … last weekend we had record Sunday attendance … it seems like people are engaging with hearing from Jesus through the Bible! I’m excited to see what happens in the coming weeks. Below are some of the lessons that we’ve learned through this Bible reading campaign.
- Don’t surprise people. // Tim did a masterful job asking our people to join in the campaign. He gave our folks a few weeks to think about it. He didn’t leverage guilt or “holier than thou” to motivate people. He cast vision for people hearing from God through this campaign. [Listen in to the series that we used to ask people to join us.]
- Guy Riding the Train. // Throughout the design phase of this campaign I kept thinking about “that guy who rides the train into the city to work every day” … he’s super busy and doesn’t read the Bible regularly. How do we make it easy for him? What can we do to serve him through this campaign?
- The Books of The Bible // For this campaign we are using Biblica’s NIV version of the New Testament called “The Books of The Bible.” [Click here to check out it.] This Bible is ordered in such a way to help people understand the “meta-narrative” of the New Testament. Super helpful when doing a “big read” campaign to actually have common books lumped together rather than in the traditional order.
- Provide Lots of Flavors! // We printed a custom softcover version of the New Testament but then we also provided a bunch of other versions. (MP3, Kindle, iBook, iTunes Podcast, PDF, hand written papyrus.) Providing all these various version allows our people to choose how they want to read the New Testament and not be forced into one delivery method. In our first week of the campaign we’ve had 2,000 downloads of these digital formats!
- Discussion Groups // We launched a bunch more Life Groups to help people process what they are learning. I’m excited that we’ve doubled the number of people in Life Groups through this campaign. We gave people the questions that they would be discussing every week so they wouldn’t be surprised and could think ahead. (We’re also hosting 10 online “Google Hangout” groups for people who can’t make it to physical group.)
- Engage the Family // Our Family Ministry folks pitched in and provided a fantastic solution for kids. They designed an amazing “gamification” of the Bible reading campaign for our families to participate in. Every day kids can listen to a kids oriented MP3 reading of the New Testament and then they answer a simple question about that days reading. When our kids bring in those “answer sheets” on Sundays throughout the campaign they get a cool button for each day they completed and are entered in a draw to win and iPad Mini! (Plus the end of the campaign is going to be a 40 topping ice cream party for all of the kids!) So fun!
Has your church ever done a Bible reading campaign? I’d love to hear in the comments what you learned! What should we pay attention to through the rest of the campaign?