January 3 the church I attend in Littleton started a campaign to read the whole Bible together in 90 days. This week we'll cross the 1/3 mark. Half way through the Old Testament!
More than a few people were skeptical about this plan. Many had previously tried and failed to read the Bible straight through. Others were accustomed to the "lectio divina" approach, where you focus on meditating on just a brief passage. Some tend to focus in on one section of the Bible, or have a theology that emphasizes some parts of the story while excluding others entirely.
Numbered among the skeptics was our senior pastor, at least until watching good friends in another church complete the process won him over. The elders bought in. And so did the staff. Yet all of us were surprised when signups quickly passed 100, finally reaching about 230. From a congregation of 320 or so? Remarkable.
I've enjoyed seeing Biblical literacy creep upwards... now references to Genesis, Deuteronomy, or 2 Samuel pepper people's conversations. I think we'll see unquestioned, unsupported theologies debunked as we all discover things we had never noticed before (while other ideas we thought had biblical support are nowhere to be found). Reading fast, and reading together - with video teaching spots, sermons, and small group discussions - is already bearing more fruit than I knew it could.
There's an old video - a pretty terrible one, from a production standpoint - that has a significant following in missions circles. It's called "Ee Taow!" "Ee taow" means something like, "It's amazing!" The video tells the story of a couple of missionaries who went to Papua New Guinea. After spending some months or years gaining fluency in language and culture, they started gathered interested people every week or so to tell them stories from the Bible - chronologically. They started with creation and week by week worked through the Old Testament, then the Gospels, finally leading up to Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Yes, God the Creator made a way to break the power of sin and death! Hearing the whole story makes it so much more powerful.
The practice of chronological Bible storying has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. I feel that what we're experiencing is similar: Bible storying for literate people. And even though we know this story much better to start with, I think we will rejoice just as much as the Mouk people of Papua New Guinea when we see how it all turns out. Ee Taow!