Friday, March 26, 2010

From Garden to City: Purpose

This is Part 1 of a behind the scenes look at the development of National Community Church's "From Garden to City" Bible reading plan. It's step-by-step through our process of developing our church-wide reading plan with the hopes that there are some transferable principles. Today, we explore the issue of determining the purpose of your reading plan.

Step 1: Establish Your Purpose
Our Bible reading initiative really emerged out of the heart and experience of our lead pastor, Mark Batterson. In 2009, he was challenged by a quote from J. I. Packer to read through the entire Bible from cover to cover, and he convinced his teenage son to join him in the challenge. That experience of diving into the Word daily, getting a 30,000-ft perspective, and doing it in the context of community led him to take our entire church through the experience.

I think the first thing you have to determine when creating and customizing a Bible reading plan for your church is to determine the purpose. Why are you doing it? Is it coming out of your own experience or does it just sound like a good idea? Does the whole church participate? What about children? Students? Does everyone read the same thing at the same time? Answering these kinds of questions will help you determine where to go next.

We started by first gathering our lead team and thinking through why we wanted NCCers to read through the Bible in a year. When our lead team first started brainstorming the idea of taking the entire church through the Bible in one year, we cited three goals: 1) to help NCCers establish a daily reading rhythm, 2) to get all of NCC on the same page at the same time, and 3) to help NCCers understand the major themes of Scripture.

These goals then led to specific ways of tackling the reading plan. For instance, since we wanted everyone on the same page at the same time, we decided to give participants a specific reading plan as opposed to just telling them to follow any plan. Since we wanted to help NCCers discover and understand major themes, we decided to base our weekend teaching in the weekly readings. Since we wanted to help NCCers establish a daily rhythm, we decided to utilize a blog to share devotional thoughts and allow for discussion to occur daily.

Your purposes will help you narrow your focus. If your primary goal is just to help folks establish a daily rhythm, you may not need to give them one specific plan but let them choose the one that they think would be best for them. If your primary goal is to help participants learn the chronological story of the Bible, then you will develop a different plan from someone who wants people to understand the different genres of Biblical writing.

After establishing our purpose, we then considered our liturgical year.


At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Will Johnston said...

I think that having the whole church read the same plan may be one of the key things to helping people establish a daily reading rhythm.

It seems that doing so has given us a lot of momentum and energy that we wouldn't otherwise have. If people were doing different plans, I would bet the participation level would be much lower. I know this kinda flies in the face of our free-market mentality, but I think that asking people to pick their own plan would have made this a much more individual (rather than corporate) endeavor that would have fizzled for most people over the course of a few days. There's something about doing this together as a community that makes it work.


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