In my January column I invited readers to join me in a spiritual system shock: reading through the Bible in a month. Granted, this approach shouldn’t be the norm for Bible study; typically, we should walk Scripture verse by verse. But there’s also a time to take flight: to view the big picture of the story of redemption.
I have no idea how many people took the challenge on their own, but at least 50 people met online nightly to share our experience together on a new Facebook page: Meet at the Text. It was an unforgettable community that formed all over the world. Meeting at 8:00 p.m. eastern time (here in the United States) meant meeting at noon for Australians Rahela and Julie—and meeting at 3:00 a.m. for Malawian Mthusani, who dutifully set his alarm.
Each evening we discussed that day’s reading: often a full-sized book such as Genesis, 1 Kings, or Acts—but sometimes a whole host of short books: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah.
Our group’s favorite books? Isaiah, John, and (interestingly) Proverbs. My wife, Cindy, joked that reading Proverbs all at once was like eating a whole jar of M&Ms.
Our most challenging book, at least at high speed? Ezekiel. We felt like we were lying on our side for 40 days.
Our two most joyful moments were Day 23, when we reached the New Testament and Jesus (everyone was smiling like children); and Day 31, when we reached Revelation and the tree of life once again.
“I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but I’ve never read the entire Bible,” reflected Julie Hoey. “There were some books I’ve never been anywhere near. Now I have an improved understanding of the story from beginning to end. I definitely want to do it again next January.”
“For several years,” wrote Marge Seifert, “I have read my Bible through in a year, but this experience of reading it in a month has whetted my appetite for more and more. The Bible has come alive; the history is amazing; I’ve been able to see the whole picture! I’ve also gained some terrific friends.”
“I mostly listened via an app,” wrote Lisa Pfeister. “I listened while preparing for work, in the car, after work. No TV or mindless social media scrolling. January was full immersion in the Word of God.”
“I rejoice in the whole journey,” shared John Sweigart, a retired pastor who became one of our looked-to voices. In fact, when I wasn’t available to lead out, John, Rahela, and Brittney carried the torch. That’s what meeting at the text is all about. It’s not about the speaker, it’s about the Scriptures. (Remember that, fellow pastors.)
“I never would have finished if not for the community,” said Sue Hayford, who also shared a new problem: “After a month of every spare minute in the Word, this book addict can’t get interested in anything else.”
Next January we’ll do it again, with a twist: we’ll read the Bible chronologically. For now, it’s back to exploring the rich valleys and plateaus of Scripture, alone anytime or together Tuesday evenings in the Gospel of John. Come join the conversation!
Andy Nash ([email protected]) is an author and pastor who leads biblical study tours to Israel.