27th September, 2012
DAVID ADAMS and ALAN TAYLOR
A national campaign to encourage Australian Christians to make reading their Bible a daily habit is being run by the Bible Society Australia over the month of October.
The ‘Live Light in 25 words’ campaign, which kicks off on Monday, was created to address the poor Bible reading habits of Australian churchgoers and involves reading just 25 words of the Bible a day for the month.
PICTURE: James Lin/www.sxc.hu
“They say that it takes about 30 days to form a habit, so we said ‘Lets do it over a month’ and we chose October. And so we are trying to engage people with the Bible for 31 days to try to form a habit.”
- Chris Melville, Bible Society Australia
More than 5,000 individuals and almost 2,500 churches and schools have committed to joining the initiative.
The Bible Society’s Chris Melville, says that with National Church Life Survey research showing 80 per cent of Christians are not reading their Bible on a daily basis often because of a lack of time, there was a need to develop a Bible study which would help to address that.
“(T)hat’s the whole basis of it – let’s try to get Christians back to have a daily reading habit,” he says. “They say that it takes about 30 days to form a habit, so we said ‘Lets do it over a month’ and we chose October. And so we are trying to engage people with the Bible for 31 days to try to form a habit.”
Those who sign up to the campaign will each receive a daily verse along with a related question to help them to think about the verse.
“The reason that we’ve called it ‘Live Light in 25 words’ is that…with people saying how busy they are, we wanted to make it achievable for them and something that they will succeed (at).”
The society hopes that having achieved the feat of reading a 25 word verse a day for a month, people will continue the habit. Mr Melville says there are enough resources on the website to last six months.
Greg Clarke, chief executive of the organisation, describes the initiative as an “invitation to Christians simply to make a fresh start on their Bible reading habit.”
“It can grow from there,” he says. “And when they do, they’ll begin to experience more of what Jesus promises – to lighten the burdens we all carry.”
Mr Melville says that one of keys to successfully helping people develop a good habit is through relationships.
“With my relationship for my wife, (for example), I have an influence on her habit because we talk and we relate and there’s trust there and we try to build each other up…” he says.
“So…we’re trying to get people to read the Bible together to have that relationship and to have that accountability towards each other. So we’re trying to encourage families to read it together, we’re trying to encourage good friends and husbands and wives to read it together…”
The 2000th church to register for the campaign was the
Banora Point Community Baptist Church in Tweed Heads.
, Pastor Ian Aylward says the church will integrate the campaign into Bible reading plans to already had for October and will be encouraging people to get involved from the pulpit.
“We’ll also use some video inspirations, and hand out material like Bible reading guides so people know what to do," he says. "One of the main things we’ll do is encourage personal testimonies. We’ll have people tell their own stories about how they’ve read the Scripture, then applied it, and have seen it working in their lives.
“Another important thing is we encourage it in the weekly cell groups. When people are in a group, there is a greater motivation to do the programme together, and to discuss what they read; and there’s a greater accountability towards one another too. We don’t want them to read the Bible or use the materials out of guilt, we want them to read out of a desire, and doing so as part of a group is a good idea.“
The Bible Society has also been running a series of public talks in conjunction with the campaign looking at why people can trust the New Testament – which research shows is another key concern of people who don’t have good Bible reading habits. Held in each state, these have reportedly attracted ‘full houses’.
As well as resources for individuals, the campaign’s website also provides resources for small group leaders and for church leaders.
Individuals and churches are encouraged to register at www.biblesociety.org.au/25words.