1. God’s story. Our story
Reading through 100 of the most important stories of the Bible together as a congregation, including adults, confirmands and Sunday school students. We read five passages from the Bible each week for 20 weeks. Weekly sermons are based on the E100 readings. They are being used in the Adult Bible Study which meets Sunday mornings. The pastor not only read along with the congregation but also modeled it for them by blogging about the daily readings. Tools for Biblical fluency were made available on the web site, through a weekly email called eConnections, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
E100 was developed by Scripture Union.
2. People of the Word
The pastor is intentionally encouraging worshipers to use Bibles during worship, even having them join in reading aloud portions of the Scripture–and not just the Psalms. This was augmented by eliminating the lectionary inserts in the bulletins and purchasing Bibles for the pews so people could actively use the Bibles during worship. The inserts cheapened God’s Word—we tossed them in the garbage! Our children did not understand that the readings on Sunday morning actually came from the Bible. The bulletin inserts made people less familiar with Scripture, decreased their confidence in daily Bible use and caused them to look to the pastor as the only expert in interpreting Scripture. In short, the less we used our Bibles in church, the less we used them at home. We had become biblically illiterate and Biblical fluency was disintegrating.
3. Living Stones
During Lent, we engaged in Bible reading as a congregation, starting with the Sunday School children and their families. Our theme was “Living Stones!” The pastor taught the entire Sunday School one Sunday to encourage Biblical engagement, prayer and family discussions. The children brought home a paper bag they decorated for Lent. Inside of each bag were 5 stones. On each stone the children had written a word—share, read, talk, pray, bless. We invited them to gather as a family for 15 minutes one night each week for 7 weeks and try the following: Take the stones out of the bag and put them in front of you, such as on your table, bed, sofa or wherever else you are gathering. Pick up the first stone—SHARE—and share your highs and lows for the week. Then pass it to the next person so they can share. When everyone is finished go to the next stone—READ—and have someone read the suggested Scripture passage while they hold the stone. Then pick up the next stone—TALK—and pass it from person to person as you talk about the passage and how it relates to your life. Continue with each of the other stones.
4. Dwelling in God’s Word
Council meetings typically begin with 20-30 minutes of engagement with Scripture. We read a passage of Scripture (sometimes more than once) and sit in silence for a minute as we dwell in God’s Word, often focusing on a simple question. Council members then share in small groups of 2-3 people what they have heard. As we gather together as a large group, council members are often invited to take turns sharing what our partner shared with us—not what we shared with them. The purpose is to teach listening skills—we learn to listen to one another as well as listen to God’s Word. We also learn that to be a People of the Word means we dwell in Scripture and struggle with its meaning as a community not just as individuals.