This year my home church embarked upon Biblica’s Community Bible Experience which is a reading plan that takes you through the New Testament in 8 week (39 days: 5 readings per week plus a grace day at the end).
Last week I shared my thoughts on The Bible Dimension of the experience. This week I’m going to share my thoughts on The Community Dimension of the experience.
The Community Dimension
As much as I like the Bible for this reading plan, and I really do, I think the fact that it’s about reading the Bible with others is even better!
Over the 8 weeks of The Community Bible Experience I met with four friends from church once a week to discuss what we had been reading. This consisted of simply sharing what we had been learning as we read, asking questions, and enjoying one another’s company.
I found it really beneficial to be reading the from same books because as one of us shared something we were able to recall the section they were talking about which helped to reinforce what we had been reading.
I also really enjoyed learning from others and listening to what God was showing them from the Bible, how they were being challenged, and the questions the Scriptures raised for them. I enjoyed being able to share what God was revealing to me, and sharing the questions and challenges I was faced with as I read the Bible. It was a great opportunity to get to know my friends a bit better and to talk with them about the Scriptures.
It’s difficult to put into words all the ways I benefited from reading the Bible with others because so often the things which most moved me were a few words here or there like when a friend reminded me how the gospel of free grace is what gives us the strength to live the holy lives we are called to as Christians. Or hearing how much everyone else was benefiting from the experience. Seeing others “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 NIV) and being reminded of just how I too need to grow in these areas.
Looking back on how beneficial the Community Bible reading was I have to admit I don’t think the idea of reading the Bible with others in this way is something that would ever have occurred to me. Bible study, sure. But this wasn’t a Bible study. It didn’t feel like a Bible study.
When January rolls around the internet explodes with Bible reading plans but I don’t think I’ve ever come across anther one that is specifically designed for a community to do together and which encourages those following it to meet regularly to talk about what they’ve been reading. The focus is always on the individual, my Bible reading plan for the year. What if we approached January, as a church community, thinking about our plan for reading the Bible together and how to actively encourage one another to regular reading of the Scriptures by meeting to share with each other what God has been saying to us, and working in us, through his Word?
What if we thought about reading the Bible as a community experience, rather than an individual duty?
I would highly recommend The Community Bible Experience. It was challenging. It required sacrifice. And it made me think, not only about the Bible and how it should be read but also because it has made me consider how to integrate the Bible into my life as a member of a community. Now that it’s over I’m thinking about how to expand upon the Community Experience dimension of the plan and how to utilised it in the long term. I’m far from an answer at the moment but I think this will become an increasing important part of Bible reading in the future of the church. So I invite you to join me in thinking and praying about how to better integrate the Scriptures into our Communities, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If, like me, this is a new idea to you please consider using Biblica’s Community Bible Experience as a way to dip your toes into the water of Community Bible reading. More and more, I think, we’ll see Bible reading become a community experience in which people come together to share what God has been teaching them and how he has been changing them through his Word in the context community so let’s get start sooner rather than later.