On January 1st I embarked upon a challenge given to the members and friends of the Lutheran Church of the Master in Carol Stream, IL. I signed up to share in, and also lead a small group of, The Bible in 90 Days. You read approximately 12 pages a day in this program. (Zondervan produces an NIV that is nicely laid out for you but you really do not need to buy one at all. Divide 90 into the pages in your own Bible and you have your plan! I am reading the NRSV for myself.) It takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 90 minutes to get through the reading each day, depending on your speed and pace. You read from Genesis right through Revelation at the end of the canon, without any jumping around from here to there at all. Reading the Pentateuch in fifteen days was noticeably “big picture” for me personally. Anita and I discuss the reading most days and this has been fun as well.
The creator of this program is Ted Cooper, Jr. (photo left). Cooper began his own journey in reading through the Bible. more than six years ago, as an agnostic. Halfway through his reading plan he became a believer. (Read that again since he did not get to the New Testament before he became a believer!) Reading every word of the Bible is not the norm for most Christians. In fact, I doubt few have ever done it, even with all the versions that we possess. (We fight about versions and I am just excited people read and study the Word.) Something profound happens to you as you read. I am in 1 Samuel today and have a renewed sense of the whole story of Israel and the covenant of God like I haven’t had in years. And I’ve spent my personal and professional life studying Scripture.
There are videos designed to be shown each week when the small group meets. The OT teacher we are using is Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College. The NT discussion is led by Dr. Mark Strauss of Bethel Seminary in San Diego. These twenty minute presentations give overview information and help the readers grasp the “flow” of what they’ve read for that week. We have small group discussion (in groups of four) and some larger group stuff as well. The accountability of the group helps us all stay on track as well. The Essential Bible Companion (Zondervan), by Walton and Strauss, is a helpful background source that provides two pages on each book and helps the reader again see the “big picture” of what they are reading and discovering. There is a website on the program that you can search as well.
I am prayerfully watching to see how the people of my local church are impacted by this process. I see a growing interest and hunger for the written Word already. I know my own life is being impacted and I expect I will use this method again when the program ends. It is very different from the One Year Bible programs and editions that abound. These are very good too but you do not get the “large chunks” quite like you do in The Bible in 90 Days. I recommend this plan to pastors, small group leaders and others who want to have people read the whole Bible together as a group experience.