In 2011, LifeWay Research conducted on an in-depth study to examine the state of discipleship in the church today. They examined the actions that lead to the qualities that we want as followers of Jesus.
What actions correlate with higher scores in discipleship attributes?
In his book No Silver Bullets, Daniel Im answers this question:
There are a few input goals that consistently predicted a higher score across all eight discipleship attribute output goals … When it comes to reading the Bible, hands down, this is the input goal that has a direct impact on the total score of all the output goals, or discipleship attributes…
The more an individual did the input goal of reading their Bible, the higher they scored in all of the output goals. So the more you can help your church to read the Bible, the better they are going to be able to obey God and deny self, serve God and others, share Christ, exercise their faith, seek God, build relationships, and be unashamed about their faith.
If you want to grow spiritually, one of the most important actions you can take is to regularly read your Bible.
The Benefit of Reading the Bible
We don’t always feel like we benefit from reading the Bible. Sometimes we gain insights for our lives; other times we don’t finish our Bible reading encouraged or inspired.
The Lifeway study revealed that Scripture still affects us even then. Im writes:
It’s important to understand here that this question was not measuring whether or not an individual studied the Bible thoroughly or memorized Scripture. While those two were definitely important factors that predicted a higher score for the Bible Engagement output goal, this is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the simple act of reading the Bible on a regular basis.
In other words, the more an individual did the input goal of reading their Bible, the higher they scored in all of the output goals. So the more you can help your church to read the Bible, the better they are going to be able to obey God and deny self, serve God and others, share Christ, exercise their faith, seek God, build relationships, and be unashamed about their faith.
This is astounding. While you might not need a research project to tell you that reading your Bible helps you mature broadly as a disciple, it is amazing that it helps you grow in all of these specific attributes.
Never underestimate the value of reading Scripture. Reading (or listening if you prefer) exposes us to God’s truth, and God uses that truth over time to shape our minds and change us.
How to Get Started
- Set realistic goals. If you’re not used to reading the Bible, it’s better to start slowly and build your reading muscles. Reading 5 minutes a day consistently is better than reading for an hour inconsistently.
- Invest in tools. Get a good study Bible like the CSB Study Bible or ESV Study Bible. The notes will help you with parts you don’t understand.
- Choose a plan. You can find a variety of plans listed here. Don’t forget to choose a plan that’s realistic for you! Don’t feel guilty for taking longer to read through the Bible if that’s what works for you. Some plans offer buffer days in case you get behind.
- Enlist support. See if you can find a friend to follow the same plan so you can encourage each other.
- Keep going. You will feel like following the plan some days. Other days you’ll want to quit. Don’t get discouraged. Pick up where you leave off and keep going.
- The Bible Is a Lifelong Project — “What if you thought about Bible reading as not merely a new resolution for 2021 but a lifelong pursuit?”
- Want to Read Your Bible Well in 2021? Don’t Do It Alone. — “No matter what your schedule is like or what stage of life you’re in, don’t let the first week of 2021 go by without inviting another believer to meet with you regularly to read God’s Word.”
- Reading the Bible to Meet God — “How can we change our mind-sets to view Scripture as a living, rich revelation instead of a religious tome of instructions and history?”