This Summer, a Bible Reading Challenge for Busy Families
By Jeff Anderson Author, Speaker, and Founder of Acceptable Gift, Crosswalk.com
For many families, school is out! How about reading the Bible together this Summer?
I know what you're thinking. Is that even possible? Reading the Bible as a family?
As someone who’s led hundreds of people though the Bible, I can say it is possible, even in a home with busy teenagers. But you need the right expectations and a solid plan.
First, let me explain what family reading does not look like. We’re not circled on the living room floor singing kum-ba-yah. We’re not gathered on the couch taking turns reading scriptures. Our children are not lined up performing Bible “sword drills” while mom and dad call out random passages.
Here is what our Summer read will look like, if all goes according to plan.
Speaking of a plan, we’re reading about forty percent of the Bible for sixty days. (It only takes about 25 minutes a day to read roughly eight chapters. Download my free plan and tips here: https://jeffandersonauthor.
When our family reads together, it’s different. We’re not reading in the same room. We’re not necessarily reading at the same time. So how are we reading “together”?
My youngest son, a high school junior, is hot after his driver’s license. (Test date: July). That’s his first priority. Next, he’ll be working as an ESPN advisor (or so he thinks). Gunnar keeps up with everything sports, on his phone, and all the time it seems. After he works out (my sons are fitness geeks), plays on his phone, runs around to friends’ houses, wastes some more minutes (hours) on his phone, and works a part-time shift he’ll hopefully (optimistic dad) read his Bible.
Gunnar is a night owl and convinces me that all the activities we want him to do can be done after I’ve gone to sleep. Overall, he’s pretty good at following a plan and he seems on board with this summer’s family Bible read.
My middle son, a high school senior, is like most teenage boys I suppose. Cade tends to do everything that’s not important (shopping for new shoes, fast food runs with buddies, surfing YouTube) before doing the things that are important (ACT test prep, college applications, etc.) He will probably wait to read his Bible until after he’s gone to the gym, played on his phone, cleaned his room (after ongoing encouragement from mother), burned some time on Fortnight, and gone to work.
Since he’s less of a night owl than his brother (unless he’s on Xbox), somewhere in the middle of the day he’ll find twenty minutes of downtime, pull out his Bible, and read. He’s a fast reader—not because he’s a genius or avid reader, but because he’s eager to be finished. But that’s okay. He’s on board with the overall purpose and knows it will feel good to have read 40 percent of the Bible in 60 days.
I’m really excited about reading with my “baby.” Ten-year-old Autumn is still young enough to snuggle up to me on the couch as we read together. Fortunately I work at home and can find times with her during the day. I’ll probably read a chapter or two out loud, then she’ll read a chapter or two. Then maybe we’ll read silently for the rest. We’ll experiment, and that’s the key. Sixty days is a long time for this kind of reading partnership with a youngster, so we’ll need to be diligent.
Because she’s a Type A (like her mother), I have a hunch she won’t let us skip days. I have a family reputation for starting book reads or Bible initiatives with the kids and then veering off from the plan. So this is another reason to involve your entire family. Accountability is good!
Did I mention my oldest son, a college senior? Austin is living ninety minutes away at school for summer. He says he’s on board with the reading plan, too. He’s crashed and burned on a few Bible reading tries lately (typical college student with good intentions), so he’s eager for redemption. By the way, I believe seeking redemption from past Bible reading fails is a fine motivation to jump on a new plan.
Anyway, we won’t see him much this summer, but we’re happy to have him reading “together” with us.
And finally, there’s my dear wife. I won’t pester her about this summer’s family Bible reading initiative—she’s the most consistent Bible reader in the home. She’s also the busiest one in the house—and she’s coming off a rough schedule from the winter/spring. She doesn’t need the pressure from us. Besides, she has a habit of somehow slipping her way into the family Bible reading rhythm on her own timing.
She seems to do her reading when the family is either asleep—very early in the morning or late at night—or when the family is away from the house. Often she listens to the audio Bible while cruising across town in the family van. Yes, Bible listening counts as reading.
That’s how the Andersons read the Bible together. As you can see, it’s rarely “together.” We’ll be able to grab some regular moments on the couch and dinner table to talk our summer reading.
Getting together for Bible talk often seems to involve a session of gas, grunts, and giggles—occasional elbow hits or arm slaps, eventually leading to some “Dad yells” and “Mom eye-rolls” as we awkwardly land on some seconds of seriousness to discuss what’s really most important to us all. Our faith and walk with God.
If this approach sounds disrespectful to God, that’s not our intent. It’s just how we are as a family. Bible reading can be clumsy and hard. It can be comical, sometimes tiring and so very sweet and endearing at the same time.
The next day we wake up to a new summer day where we practice reading the Bible “together” as a family… the Anderson way.
(Download my free plan and tips here: https://jeffandersonauthor.
Jeff Anderson speaks and writes about walking with God and leading your family into deeply rooted faith. He’s the author of, "Plastic Donuts, Divine Applause" (Multnomah/Random House) and the new book, "Power Read the Bible." www.JeffAndersonAuthor.com
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/ipekata