We all know that the beginning of the year is a natural time to try to develop new/better habits, and for Christians this frequently takes the form of a renewed dedication to read the Bible more regularly. I’ve started (and stopped) many Bible reading plans in the past, but 2011 is the first year that I will (Lord willing) make it all the way through. In this post I wanted to share a bit about the hybrid reading plan I’ve used this year, in the hopes that it might be useful to someone else.
The main structure for my 2011 Bible plan comes from a church in St. Louis called The Journey. As far as I can tell, 2010 was their first year for the Engage Scripture Bible reading plan. They changed it a bit for 2011, but I preferred some of the features of their 2010 plan, so I adopted it for my use.
There were two really attractive features of this plan: frequent days off and “books of the month.” The plan has you read three chapters each day (one from each of three books of the Bible) and then take the fourth day off. This allows regular catch-up time, which really helped me. The plan also assigns a different book for each month, and the goal is a read-through of that book in one (or a few) longer sittings rather than a chapter-by-chapter study. (Examples: Leviticus was the book of January, Ezekiel 1–24 was the book for November, and Ezekiel 25–48 was the book for December.) A combination of these reading methods takes you through the Bible in one year.
I walk to and from work each day, and I found that to be a very fruitful time to listen to the Bible on my mp3 player. So, this is usually when I did my book-of-the-month “reading.” For this audio I relied on the ESV Bible online. After you set your preferences at that site, when you search for a Bible passage there will be a “Listen” link near the top of the page which supplies an mp3 file of that Bible passage. There is a limit on the number of verses that can be displayed (and thus converted into mp3) at one time, so I usually broke the books of the month up into five-chapter units. And this is no text-to-speech robot voice either! Your choices are David Cochran Heath or Max McLean — both professionals! The audio sounds great and I want to express my sincere thanks to Crossway for making this tool available for free.
There you have it. I’ve included a link to the spreadsheet I developed for this Bible plan at the end of this post. Feel free to use it for your own edification.
One last comment: I have found some significant differences between reading the Bible and listening to the Bible. This post is long enough already, so I hope to explain some of these differences later this week.
Download the spreadsheet for this Bible reading/listening plan here.