I have always enjoyed reading the Bible, and I’ve always enjoyed trying to read it in more depth and breadth, moving beyond the oft quoted verses or phrases (which are usually taken out of context). Whilst I’ve managed in the past to read whole books, or to read some part of the Bible every day (a habit I’ve not always been good at maintaining) I have never, in my 33 years, read the entire Bible cover-to-cover, despite trying a couple of times.

Right back at the start of the year a friend of mine started one of those “read the Bible in a year” plans on the YouVersion app and decided to invite some friends to read along, using the Plans with friends feature. I’m glad he did, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about why I think it’s so good.

The plan we’ve been reading is called The Bible Project | The Bible which has been put together by a group called, you guessed it, The Bible Project. It just runs through the Bible from start to finish, no faffing with chronological order, or mixing Old Testament, Psalms and New Testament each day - I’ve tried each type in the past, and I’ve not found any particularly easy, but just going from cover-to-cover seems the least complicated. For those interested, I’ve been reading along using the New Living Translation (NLT), but the joy of the app is that you can each read along in your own favourite translation.

Each book of the Bible is accompanied by at least one video from The Bible Project. At the beginning of each book is a video which gives you an overview of both the complete book, but also where/how that book fits within the narrative of the Bible as a whole. At the end of most books there may also be another video to do the same, wrapping up that book. So far most books have had this ending video and it has either been the same as the opening video or a slightly different look over the same book (albeit with much of the same points raised). Some books have also had videos mid-way, exploring key themes and how they are woven through the Bible as a whole.

The videos have been really useful, particularly in some of the heavy-going books (I’m looking at you Leviticus). They’ve helped to break it up, but also to help convey why this book is important, and how it connects into the wider story.

However the clear winner for me has been the conversation at the end of each days reading. This opportunity to share what you have taken from the reading and to reflect on how others have interpreted it have been really enlightening and encouraging. Some of our group have studied the Bible at post-graduate level, so they are also able to share the study they’ve done with the group as well.

Not to mention that reading with a group of people is more motivating. I didn’t want to fall behind the group and they check in with you if you do fall way behind (as I did earlier in the year).

At time of writing I am 136 days into the plan and I currently have a streak of 126 days interacting with the app (not necessarily completing the plan each day). I honestly can’t see why I won’t finish it this year and I reckon I’ll look to start another one next year, maybe with a different group of people to mix things up a bit.

If you’ve wanted to read the whole Bible in a year, but have struggled to keep up momentum, I would definitely recommend giving this a go. You can also use it with much shorter plans (I’ve done that a couple of times this year too, with friends and family).

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