As ministers, we want our people to experience spiritual growth. We long to see them draw close to God and practice a rich, compelling faith. Unfortunately, instead of growth we often see stagnation. What can we do to help our people discover a vibrant walk with the Lord? Perhaps we need to return to the basics.
Can you guess the number one indicator of spiritual growth? I will give you a few hints. It isn’t attending a home group/Sunday School class/Bible Study Fellowship or whatever else you want to call it. It isn’t being led in worship by a guitar player in skinny jeans. It isn’t even listening to outstanding oratory in the pulpit. No, according to Brad Waggoner’s book, The Shape of Faith to Come, the number one indicator of spiritual growth is Bible reading. If people read the Bible consistently, they grew spiritually. That seems obvious, yet how often do we encourage our people to read the Bible? And if we encourage them to read the Bible, how often do we place tools in their hands to help them in this task?
As a New Year approaches, you have a perfect opportunity to encourage your people to read God’s word. In my last pastorate, I challenged my church to read through the Bible over the course of a year. Many accepted the challenge and grew from the experience. I had several inform me that even though they had been in church for decades, they had never read the entire Bible. Even more startling, some of those same people informed me that they had never had a pastor challenge them to read their Bible. Recognizing that most people have suspect and selective memories, it still convicted me that church-going people would say that they had never been challenged to read the Bible.
Will you challenge your people to read the Bible this year? If so, I have a resource that might help you. I developed this tool after I challenged my church to read through the Bible in a year. I recognized that some might need assistance in the area of applying the Bible to their lives. So, I developed this tool to aid believers in their quest to accurately apply Scripture to their lives. The book is titled What Now? It is a devotion guide that provides a daily Bible reading plan, with selections from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day. In addition, What Now? offers four to six daily application questions that coincide with the Bible reading.
This resource could be used in several ways.:
- What Now? could serve as a tool that you make available to your people as you challenge them to read the Bible in 2013. You could simply include some information about the book, including an Amazon link, in your bulletin or newsletter.
- What Now? could also provide a platform for a church-wide Bible reading campaign. Imagine what would happen if a large portion of your church committed to read the Bible in 2013. This time next year, your church might have a completely different spiritual pulse!
- What Now? could also serve as an effective resource for small groups. In fact, this upcoming year at my church, I plan to lead a small group centered on this Bible reading plan. The questions for group discussion are already available in What Now?
I believe this resource could help your church grow spiritually in 2013. But, whether you utilize What Now? or some other resource, I encourage you to challenge your people to read God’s Word this upcoming year. It will empower your people to experience spiritual growth and enable your church to enjoy a spiritual transformation!
Kristopher Barnett is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in Biblical Languages (2001) and a Ph.D. in theology with a concentration in preaching (2008). His dissertation was A Historical/Critical Analysis of Dialogical Preaching. His undergrad work was completed at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas with a B.A. in Communication (1997).
Prior to joining the Christian studies faculty at Anderson University, Dr. Barnett served as pastor to three different churches; Forestburg Baptist Church (TX), Ridglea West Baptist Church (TX) and most recently, East Pickens Baptist Church (SC). Prior to pastoral ministry, he served as youth minister at two churches and did a youth internship at another.
Kris Barnett is the author of What Now?, a companion guide to the Bible. He is a member of the Evangelical Homiletic Society and has twice presented papers at the EHS conference (Wake Forest, NC and Birmingham, AL). Dr. Barnett enjoys filling the pulpit for local churches and serving in an interim role for churches seeking a pastor.
Dr. Barnett is married to Kelly, who is a graduate of ASU with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in psychology. They have four children, Kenzie, Karsen, Noah, and Kassie.