Sheep wake up ready to eat. To get their attention, all one really needs to do is offer them something to eat. They will suddenly be interested and engaged. For us humans, it may take a little more for us to be engaged. If we are heading into a Zoom meeting, the magnitude of the decision, the presence of our boss’s boss, and the amount of coffee in our bodies can all contribute to our level of attentiveness. The same is true when it comes to the Bible. We must approach the Bible with the intent of engaging so we can live a life that honors the God who loves us. We noted last week that sheep need to eat daily to stay healthy. All of us need daily Bible engagement from the youngest to the most senior of us.
What is meant by daily Bible engagement? Let’s look at each word in the term “daily Bible engagement” to get a handle on what it means.
- Daily: Paul compared spiritual discipline to the discipline of boxing, making sure he took care of himself so he would finish well (see 1 Cor. 9:27). Boxing and finishing well both require discipline.
- Bible: Think about how many times we equate reading what others say about the Bible with reading the Bible. The ideas of others can be helpful, but they must not replace God’s Word. Here’s a test. When asked about what we believe about a subject, do we quote a recognized Bible teacher, or do we focus on a Bible verse in our response? If we quote a recognized Bible teacher more than the Bible, we might want to evaluate whom we really view as the authority (1 Cor. 1:12-13 is instructive here).
- Engagement: Synonyms include engrossed, immersed, captivated by, and wrapped up in. When Ezra returned to Jerusalem, he had “determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10, CSB). To me, Ezra demonstrates engagement. Engagement is a thoughtful study of God’s Word, seeking to align our lives with the character of God as He reveals His character to us.
How can we help our sheep engage daily with the Bible? Here are six actions that can help.
- Outfit them. We can’t expect people to engage with the Bible daily if we don’t provide them some type of tool for doing so. We fail them by not outfitting them for success. Consider providing each person a copy of the Explore the Bible Personal Study Guide, Daily Discipleship Guide, or Kids Family Cards. These tools help people of all ages engage with the Bible. (get samples to preview)
- Show them. As the leader, we need to show our sheep how to use the resources we provide. If we lead a Bible study group, we may want to dedicate some time occasionally when the group meets to demonstrate how to use the resources provided. We may even make a phone call or a face-to-face visit to explain how to use the resources.
- Tell them. Set the standard. We can find ways to share an insight we gained or a change we are working on as a result of our Daily Bible engagements. Be honest. Letting them know our struggles with a passage and with the practice itself encourages others.
- Ask them. Get comfortable asking what people are learning through their daily Bible engagement. If everyone is using the same resource, we can initiate a conversation based on one of the suggested readings from that resource. Asking others about what they are learning through their daily Bible engagement gives them permission to ask us what we are learning. Be ready to answer!
- Involve them. When leading a Bible study group, invite people to participate. Ask questions that engage them in the process and that allow them to share what they learned prior to the study time or after it. Let them be the hero!
- Keep in contact. In almost every Bible study group, we will find people who attend sporadically at best. As frustrating as that may be, their inactivity does not excuse us from encouraging them to engage daily with the Bible. We can use email, texts, and other means to share insights gained, answers to difficult questions, and actions to consider based on the passage being studied. They know they were not there, so bringing that up is stating the obvious. Simply say something like, “Here’s a question that comes out of this week’s passage, and I wanted to make sure everyone got this insight.” We can’t force them to eat, but we can at least provide them a tool that will help them eat.
What are some other ideas you have that might encourage people to engage daily with the Bible?
Next week we look at ways we are social eaters even in our spiritual lives.
This is part two of a four part set. Read the first post.