Fellow disciple of Jesus: Do you read the Bible regularly? Do you have a good sense of the Bible’s story? If not, let me help you with The Word Diet. An effective diet is a matter of eating more good things and fewer bad things. If God is loving and smart, then reading His Word, the Bible, is doing something that’s good for you. (Doing The Word Diet will mean devoting 1% of your time each week to reading the Bible in this format.) And for many people, “getting on” The Word Diet will also involve reducing your intake of things that aren’t so good for you—say, watching TV or fiddling on your phone.
Church leaders, what percentage of your people read the Bible daily or even weekly? If the Word of God is “living and active”, a powerful love letter, an explanation of God’s work and His promises, and so on– why don’t we do more to promote reading it. Either we don’t really believe in the Word’s power and value– or we don’t know how to encourage people to read it.
The Word Diet is a way to practically promote reading the Bible. There are a number of reading plans for the entire Bible, but my goals are much more modest: to read a key chapter per day for a year. I decided on one chapter per day and six days per week—as a workable plan that still accomplishes quite a bit. This is a year-long plan—with length to develop good habits and the option to run this as a continuous small group that can be joined at any time throughout the year. The Word Diet can be done as an individual. But ideally, it has the accountability of at least one partner. Even better: enough folks for a well-rounded group discussion. The Christian faith requires community and relationships—and the Bible is best read and understood in this way too.
*Psalm 34:8 encourages us “to taste and see that the Lord is good.” One can “taste” through prayer, worship, service, etc. But why would you exclude a delicious course in the feast that God offers you—or settle for a preacher spoon-feeding you in a sermon?
*Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, so you can determine God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect” will. God’s Word is a terrific tool to do this and to better understand God’s will for your life.
*Hebrews 12:2 says we should “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Is there a better way to focus on Jesus—than to read about His life?
*II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Why would we ignore such a valuable resource?
As Kurt Sauder and I discuss in Enough Horses in the Barn and Roll Up Your Sleeves, there are two common, significant barriers to a process of discipleship. People need to move from large group to small group—from corporate worship to a more intimate experience of community. And they need to move from passive to active—from “just show up” opportunities to aggressively making investments in their own apprenticeship with Christ. Churches tend to do well with the first, but far fall short in offering and encouraging the second. The Word Diet is a light (even introductory) resource that can help people to disciple with Jesus. (If you’re ready for something with more meat, consider our discipleship curricula: DC28:20—Getting Equipped and DC—Thoroughly Equipped.)
Second, I want to promote Bible literacy, especially in a culture that is increasingly “post-Christian”. As such, the first volume of The Word Diet covers the arc of the Bible, its key narratives, and its vital principles. (There will be two other volumes, for those who want to continue this format to read the entire Bible.) Often in the Church, we exhort people to read the Bible, with little sense of what to read, little or no instruction on how to do it, and little or no accountability to encourage it in practice.
Third, I want to help people engage the “spiritual disciplines” that Jesus did and have been practiced by Christians for centuries. If you’re “on” The Word Diet, you’ll read and memorize Scripture, engage in prayer, and if you do this in a small group, work on the “one anothers” of biblical community.