You’ve been officially invited to join us for Same Page Summer, and now that the starting date is upon us, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips from the Bible Reading Challenge (BRC).
To begin with, the main goal is to get God’s people back to the Word in the simplest of ways: by reading it. Rachel Jankovic, the BRC’s ringleader, put it this way:
“When it comes to the Bible, many Christians have forgotten how to simply read. We read newspapers, online articles, magazines, Instagram posts, blogs, recipes, novels, etc etc LIKE NORMAL READERS. And yet we feel that we haven’t “really read” the Bible unless we have journaled, checked commentaries, studied the Greek, and listened to a sermon series. That is how we have started to believe that reading the Bible is an undertaking too big to fit into our lives and schedules.”
With this goal in mind of becoming normal readers of the Word, I want to offer some things to release, some things to add, some things to teach, and some things to do when it comes to Same Page Summer.
First, some things to release:
Release long-held ideas about what time in the Word should look like. As busy parents, we rarely have time to sit in uninterrupted quietude to read our Bibles. And so many of us have shelved it for the day when we can read it RIGHT. But reading it at all is a great way to read it right. I have read my Bible in many places this year and with all levels of chaos in my periphery and it still worked wonders!
Release perfectionism. You or someone in your family will occasionally miss a day’s reading. There are catch-up days scheduled, but the BRC encourages you to jump in on the next day’s reading if you get behind. One of my favorite sayings of the group is “You can never be behind if you are reading today.” How refreshing!!
Release your perceived contributions. Gordon Wilson has said,
“So many people treat the Bible like they’re dissecting a cat. But the Bible isn’t a cat – YOU are. The Bible is supposed to lay YOU open, cut YOU up.”
I was imagining today what it would be like to read only the annotated literary classics that I have in my library, stopping after every sentence to read footnotes. It would certainly change the Jane Austen experience. Same Page Summer is a great time to put the study tools and magnifying glasses away and just read.
Secondly, some things to add:
Add positivity by making this a “get to” and not a “got to” opportunity. We want to cultivate a LOVE for the Bible, not drag the whole family kicking and screaming to its pages. So let’s make it cheerful! If someone is struggling, say “Why don’t I read our assignment aloud today?” Or “I’ll read a chapter and then you read a chapter!” Or even “Why don’t we take a break today and pick back up tomorrow?”
Add new ways of coming to the Word. Nothing has helped me bring the Bible into my real life like listening on audio. It sounds too easy, but I have learned so much with the Word in my ears while doing household chores. Sarah Mackenzie has some great ideas for helping kids stay engaged during read-aloud and audio sessions here: https://readaloudrevival.com/73/
Add encouragement by sharing the invitation! This challenge works so well when you have others alongside you. So help spread the word! Invite your neighbors. Your homeschooling community. Your Instagram and Facebook friends. Your church. Everyone is welcome!
Next, some things to teach:
Teach a metaphor to help your kids understand what we’re doing. My favorite from the BRC is that the Bible is a table of great food where everyone can pull up a chair and eat. Ask your kids to imagine what it would be like if we only ate lunch on Sundays. How would we feel? Well that same thing happens when we aren’t regularly eating the Word. Before the week is up, we’re grouchy. We’re weak. We’re anxious. We’re HUNGRY! But if we are eating every day from this great table our Father has laid out for us, our souls will be full and equipped.
Encourage your family to be modern-day reformers. In this interview with Sheologians (https://www.sheologians.com/get-eat-rachel-jankovic-2/), Rachel Jankovic said we assume we know what it is like to live in a post-Reformation world where everyone has a Bible to read, but in actuality, we don’t, because so many Christians aren’t reading it. Ask your kids: what if we changed that, starting with us? What if we determined to be reformers who really KNOW who God is because we read His book? And what might happen if we had people all over the world doing the same thing with us? (Do you have goosebumps? I have goosebumps!)
And, finally, some things to do:
Buy cheap paperback Bibles for everyone in the family. (We like this one: https://www.amazon.com/ESV-Economy-Bible-Large-Print/dp/1433558416/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=esv+paperback+bible&qid=1558457774&s=gateway&sr=8-3). This will be their Same Page Summer Bible, meant for using, for taking on the go, for marking up with pens and highlighters…for consuming! A few days before the challenge starts, have a little party where everyone can cover their Bible with different contact paper or patterned Duck tape.
Illustrate how much spare time we have for Bible-reading; set a timer and tell everyone to read the book of Ephesians start to finish. (If you have young children, try reading it aloud while they color or quietly play). Most people finish this in under fifteen minutes, which is just when I’m usually getting warmed up in my social media scrolling.
Make a party out of Same Page Summer. Set goals. Have ice cream every time you complete a book. Or a big pizza party at the end of the challenge. And, remember, you don’t have to finish the challenge perfectly to celebrate!
Talk about the things you’ve read. Something super fun that happens when people are literally on the same page is that conversations about the Bible naturally come up. Think of how our culture would operate when a new episode of Downton Abbey aired, or when a new Marvel movie comes out. It pops up in conversations everywhere. We’ve seen this same thing happen with Bible reading! When it comes to our families, we can be especially intentional. This past year, we’ve read a chapter of Proverbs every morning before discussing our favorite verses. We plan to use this same easy format all summer, but before bed. “What part of today’s reading did you like the best?”
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Families of Story Warren, I’m thrilled to have you joining us for Same Page Summer, and I hope these tips will help you as they’ve helped me! You can find everything you need for the challenge, including links to encouraging Facebook groups, here: https://www.christkirk.com/biblechallenge/. And don’t forget to share your thoughts/progress on social media with the hashtag #samepagesummer.
See you on June 3rd in the book of John! I’ll save you and your family a seat at the table!