Next week I’m planning to attend The Uncover Summit, a 3-day event where over 250 Christian leaders will gather to consider the latest research on best practices in Bible engagement. But as I think about which speakers I want to hear, I find myself hoping that someone will make the case for “worst practices.” Here’s why.
Over the past few years, several ministries involved in the Bible cause, including Scripture Union, have spent time and money researching the most effective Bible engagement methods; we want find out what works. That’s a good thing, and it has led to some important breakthroughs in our understanding of the impact of a regular Bible reading habit.
But we need to remember that “what works” is not just our methodologies, or programs or even our research “proving” that one approach is better than another. That’s because the active ingredient in any Bible engagement program is God’s Word and its ability to change lives.
Think of it this way. How many times have we heard about someone in a hotel room, drunk, depressed and suicidal, finding a Gideon Bible and coming to faith in Christ? And while I’m sure no one at the upcoming Summit would recommend getting drunk, depressed and suicidal as a best practice for an effective quiet time, nonetheless we have to acknowledge that there are times when that “method” has produced a positive outcome. And it has done so simply because “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).
Of course, I’m not saying that we should forget about research, or that we should scrap our good programs and adopt “worst practices”. But I am saying that all our efforts to develop and implement effective Bible engagement methods should lead us to a greater sense of awe at the power of God’s Word to change lives, and a greater sense of humility about the role we play in that process. Because if we lose sight of that, we’ve missed the main point.
The Case for “Worst Practices”