I love the Bible. I know, I'm a pastor. I'm supposed to love the Bible. But that's not why I love it. Actually as a kid growing up in the church I didn't always love the Bible. I knew I was supposed to love it. I knew it was God's word. But I struggled to read it, even as a teenager. There were a few stories I loved. Like when David killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17), when Moses parted the sea (Exodus 14), or when I read anything from the book of Revelation. But those stories were few and far between. Most of the Bible seemed boring, confusing, and irrelevant to my life. Until I was a senior in high school. That's when I made one small change in my approach to reading the Bible that changed everything for me.
I started to read the Bible ... in community. I began meeting with a few friends from my youth group to study the bible together. We talked about the things that confused us, concerned us, and amazed us. We asked tough questions. We explored big ideas. It was incredible. The Bible started to come to life in a way that it never had before.
Then I went to bible college. To be fair, I learned a ton about the Bible in college. My professors were brilliant people, and they truly loved Jesus. But the nature of any Christian college is that studying the Bible can become more of a chore, more of a task, than an adventure. That's the danger in it. Where I learned the most about the Bible while in college might surprise you. It wasn't in a class. It wasn't in a theology text book. It was, once again, in community. I was a part of a small group of guys (14 of us) who met every Thursday evening to study and explore the Bible together. We called ourselves The Brotherhood. (Don't judge us. It sounded really cool back then.)
Meeting with The Brotherhood every Thursday night throughout college shaped my life more than anything else. I grew in my faith. I grew in my knowledge of God. I grew in my love for His word. It was one of the most critical seasons of spiritual growth I've ever had. I still look back on it with wonder and amazement.
Now as a Pastor, I spend a ton of time studying the Bible. I love it. But my favorite time in the word each week happens every Thursday morning. For about the last five years I've been meeting with a group of guys on our staff team (a chef, a couple of guys from our grounds crew, some student ministry staff, and occasionally some others) to study the Bible in community. It's one of the most life giving experiences of my week. And I would argue that Thursday mornings are shaping me more than just about anything else I'm doing.
Here's the crazy thing. The Bible was never really intended to be read alone. Don't get me wrong. I think there's a ton of value in daily, personal time in God's word. I do this myself. But if that's where my study ended, I'd be missing out on something God wants for all of us. The Bible was intended to be read, studied, and discussed in community. Look at the New Testament letters. They were written to a group of people. They would have been read aloud ... in community.
If you find yourself struggling to love reading the Bible, then I'd challenge you to change up your routine. Find some other people and read it together, in community. It might completely change your outlook on God's word. You might find yourself loving it as much as I do.