You want to know why pastors have trouble motivating their people to read God’s Word? It’s not for lack of Bibles. We have plenty of them. And it’s not for lack of good preaching. Most pastors regularly emphasize the importance of the Word.
It’s because our default method of Bible reading—what I like to call the “Lone Ranger Method”—is hard to sustain. Research shows that people just don’t read the Bible on their own every day. The Lone Ranger was a good sheriff, but I bet he was a bad Bible reader.
So, what’s the solution? What would motivate more people in your church to read the Bible more consistently? I think it’s a new paradigm called “Community-based Bible Reading.” What’s that?
Community-based Bible Reading is when a significant number of people in a congregation commit to reading the same Bible passages, together, over time. Each day, they read the same passage individually. Each week they talk about these same passages in groups. Each Sunday they hear these same passages preached about in a sermon.
When a large enough core group is focusing on the same passages together, it creates a motivational updraft for Bible reading. People who struggle with the Lone Ranger Method are pulled along by the positive reinforcement all around them.
And the side effects of Community-based Bible Reading are significant. When many people are reading the same passages together, that’s what they talk about. They have a common experience in the Word to relate their lives to.
A pastor in a mainline denomination who tried this approach once told me, “The simple practice of having my people read five Bible passages in the week, which I then preach from on Sunday, has transformed my church.” That’s Community-based Bible Reading.