I’m excited because this month at Liquid Church we are launching a massive campaign to get up to 3,000 people to read the entire New Testament Bible in 40 days all together as a community.
If you aren’t aware of some of the trends going on with Bible engagement and churches today, take a look at the infographic I pulled together to help share the situation in the Church:
So for 40 days leading up to Easter, we will be reading the Bible in 225 small groups across New Jersey. We even have several church online groups forming so that our community of online worshippers can participate with us. All the details are available at www.40daybiblechallenge.com
The program is being put together in collaboration with Biblica, who is the copyright holder of the NIV Bible. We have been able to produce thousands of custom printed Bibles for our campaign through their Community Bible Experience. With Biblica’s help, we’ve also been able to make it available in PDF, Kindle, ePub, and audio formats. In addition, we’ve produced a spanish translation as well as kids versions of the daily bible readings. We’ve got iTunes podcasts. We also have links to the YouVersion reading plan available for your smart phone. And to top it off, we have a daily email devotional that will be sent out every day to keep everyone encouraged and on track. There you go, no excuse NOT to read it with us.
I’m excited to see what happens when our entire community is in sync reading the same portions of text weekly over the next 8 weeks. What is been surprising is the enthusiasm people have shown to sign-up to read together. You would think in today’s day and age that reading the entire NT Bible wouldn’t be a huge draw. But by doing it together, it has brought out the best participation and energy we have seen in awhile.
Have you ever read the Bible together with your entire church? How did it go?
Today, we have a guest post about using the iPhone to access The Bible. There are tons of great Bible apps out there. I have a bunch in a folder on my iPhone. Here’s 4 iPhone apps you might want to download and try out. If you’re interested in submitting a guest blog post, check out the guidelines I’ve written up to help you get started.
Getting to know about religion or Bible is a top interest for many around the world and now, accessibility is not an issue for anyone anymore. For example, with Apple’s iPhone, looking up verses of the Bible is just a few touches away. Now, the Bible can be carried with ease and can be referred to anywhere and at anytime of the day. There are numerous applications which are available for the iPhone, but then a few stand out to be one of the most preferred apps amongst many:
1. The Bible – The Bible app has been developed by LifeChurch.tv and is one of the simplest and popular apps available at the app store. One special feature in this phone is the ability to access hundreds of different versions of the Bible. A wide array of passages can be selected for future reference and reading plans are easy to follow with this app. Many versions of the bible are present which include the NIV, ESV, NLT, NKJV, NASB and the CEV bible translations. A keyword search facility makes it easy for users to search a particular verse and go through with ease. This app also has few versions of the Bible in Spanish and the German Language.
2. Bible Verse of the Day – This splendid app allows a user to take a break from the busy and demanding lifestyle to go through a verse from the Holy Bible. This app is a self-functioning one and does not need any updates or a live connection to the internet after being downloaded. Features of the app include reading random verses from the Bible and e-mailing them to friends on the list. This app costs under a dollar and is available at the ITunes App Store.
3. Holy Bible – The Holly Bible app mainly features almost 23 Bible translations. The ability to read the original and the translated text keeping it side by side is truly commendable. Specific passages can be selected and bookmarked for further reference. This app is a free one in the App Store.
4. The Church – This app is known for its features and functionality which can help Christians around the world to start their own prayer journals, receive inspirational quotes, and memorize verses. This app also comes with a tithe calculator and has an offline Bible too.
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I was fortunate to connect with Paul Caminiti, vice-president of church & bible engagement at Biblica at the Q conference in Washington D.C. this April. On a daily basis, 700 people quit reading the Bible. And that means not just taking a break or putting the book down for a couple of months, we’re talking *quit*. The latest project at Biblica (the copyright holders of the NIV), is an elegant approach to a seemingly ubiquitous circumstance.
They’ve taken the NIV bible and the chapter and verse numbers have been removed.
It’s printed in single-column across the page like any other book we are used to reading these days.
The books are re-arranged (un-arranged?) in an order that makes more sense in terms of keeping authors’ writing together and individual books that later tradition divided into separate parts were put back together again.
And footnotes, headings and any other call outs have been removed from the pages of the sacred text.
Then they’ve added a community component by packaging it as a “book club” — meant to be read together with discussion facilitated by a couple of simple questions — not the usual fill in the blank, let’s all figure out what the “correct Christian-ese” answers might be.
In my mind, the reading experience must be quite like the experience I’ve personally had in listening to dramatized audio Bibles. God’s story starts to come alive and actually is seen as a story among other outcomes. I had a chance to interview Paul on the Books of the Bible NIV and Community Bible Experience. Here’s the convo below:
Q. It is interesting how instead of going through deep word studies of various scriptural pericopes, or other similar avenues that Bible study groups typically end up pursuing, the Community Bible Experience decidedly takes the path of trying to read the Bible in large conceptual swaths as it consumes it through a story lens. To this effect, how does Community Bible Experience promote conversation within the small group / book club setting?
A. In-depth word studies are great, but only when you have the big picture backdrop. You don’t gain a comprehensive understanding of your favorite novel by doing grammatical analysis of a word here or there. You gain the most understanding by reading the whole thing. Same goes with the Bible. That’s what we’re trying to achieve with Community Bible Experience. We’ve found the very act of “reading big” promotes conversation, simply because when you read 12 pages a day, you come to the group with plenty to discuss. We give groups five basic questions to help navigate the conversation; but some groups don’t even need them. They just open up and start talking. Sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of the way.
Q. Typically, book clubs grow organically as friends of club members hear about it and get invited in. How does Community Bible Experience fall in line with that trait of book clubs?
A. Community Bible Experience is still fairly new – and relatively small. We don’t have big promotional budgets or a slick ad campaign. So most of our participation so far has been through word of mouth. We’re OK with that. So many programs promise to revolutionize your church or whatever. We happen to think in-depth Bible engagement is the one thing that can make a difference in every area of Christian life, but we’d rather let the experience speak for itself. So we’ve kept it as simple and organic as possible.
Q. How would you pitch this book club to a fellow soccer mom or dad? How do you overcome the visceral gut reaction to hearing that a bunch of people are sitting down and reading/discussing “the Bible” straight through — typically perceived as a very boring, Bible-geeky, or even a religious fanatical thing to do by most people outside the church?
A. Our sense is that many people, including those who are nominally Christian or consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” have a natural curiosity about the Bible. Reading the Bible at least once is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. But many of us have tried one of the various “read the Bible in a year” plans and failed. What if there was a way to read the Bible that (a) is doable and (b) doesn’t come with a hidden agenda? That’s how we see Community Bible Experience. We see our role as helping you experience the Bible; we’re not here to tell you what to think of the Bible. We’re not here to force a particular interpretation on the text. That’s why Community Bible Experience has been embraced by churches and groups across the spectrum – from Episcopalians to Southern Baptists.
Q. Is there a difference in themes or issues that tend to get brought up in the conversation under this format? How does this Bible study experience differ than a “traditional” Bible study group?
A. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. Some of the best groups have been those where seekers and seasoned Bible readers were in it together. The book club model levels the playing field, so to speak. It also opens the discussion to a wide range of questions – including those not normally considered “safe” or “acceptable” in a traditional Bible study. We’re not asking people to give fill-in-the-blank answers. In other words, we’re not trying to “control” the discussion.
Q. One of the immediate flags that many people have is when they see that you are “messing with” the Bible. They might say we have final expression of the current canon for a reason. Are you trying to replace the NIV Bible people carry? Do you expect them to carry just one or the other? How does The Books of the Bible NIV compare to the current one being used in the church?
A. We would probably say we’re “un-messing” with the Bible, giving it an “un-makeover.” Much of what we’ve done is to remove formatting that’s been imposed on Scripture over the last 500 years (e.g. verse numbers, which were first added in 1551, centuries after the Bible was completed). The book order was quite fluid until the invention of the printing press. Sometimes, reading in a different order than the one we have today can be quite helpful. For example, which is more useful: to read Paul’s letters from longest to shortest (as they appear in almost every Bible today) or to read them in the order they were most likely written (as they appear in The Books of the Bible)? That said, we’re not out to replace people’s traditional chapter-and-verse Bibles. A lot of the features in a traditional Bible are there for reference purposes – to help you find a specific word or passage. We still need reference Bibles. We see The Books of the Bible as an ideal “reading Bible” to compliment and help you get more out of your traditional Bible.
Paul Caminiti is Vice President of Bible Engagement at Biblica, where his team pioneers innovative ways for the 21st century church to engage the Bible. Previously Paul was the Bible publisher for Zondervan, where he led the launch of the award-winning Archeological Study Bible and The Bible Experience. A leading spokesperson on all things Bible, Paul has been featured in media such as NBC, Fox News, Newsweek, The New Yorker, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Christian organizations should avail themselves of select professional tools like prospect research, because fundraising and engaging donors in a vision is a profession and should be approached with professional standards and ethics.
This week we look at raising more money. Our recommendation is not exactly ‘orthodox’ by traditional fundraising standards. But it is biblical.
Most organizations try to employ increasing numbers of tactics to make people give larger gifts and more frequently. Some of these techniques are certainly useful, such as one- or two-click online giving, multiple methods of giving, fundraising events, classes in budgeting (to reduce debt and free up income for giving), etc.
But the truly radical way to get people to give is to teach them what the Bible has to say about money, who Jesus is, and calling them to live a holistically generous life.
What makes it radical is to do it with no expectation of return. (Try passing this by your church finance team!)
One group doing this very well and offering programs almost free to Christian organizations is Generous Giving.
Their ‘Journey of Generosity’ (JOG) events now have metrics to show that the transformation of attendees is not just deeper discipleship but—to make those finance teams happy—fuller coffers. Of those surveyed:
75% say that the JOG “changed their perspective or practice related to generosity.”
43% say they have already made a new gift they would not have made before the JOG.
76% say they plan to make a gift in the next 12 months they would not have made before the JOG.
97% say they have talked about the impact with someone else.
77% say they plan to attend another GG event in the next 12 months.
The key, though, is that it must be done for them, and not for your organizational budget.
While space doesn’t allow here, studies by George Barna and Brian Kluth show that regularly talking about the budget from the pulpit can increase giving marginally, but teaching on generosity can increase giving exponentially.
In the next and final post, we look at something—stewardship—that the best secular and faith-based organizations both do well.
And I use the metaphor of the world’s oldest profession. (It’s not what you think…)
Hurricane Irene stole the stage this weekend as everyone and everything was mobilized on account of the incoming storm of the decade.
New York subways, mass transit, airports, etc have all been shut down. Even Redeemer Presbyterian Church cancelled Sunday services on the East Side and West Side.
Many, many churches cancelled services this weekend. The only services that were left untouched seemed to be the 160+ Internet Churches including Liquid Church Online and LifeChurch.tv. That’s where I personally plan to go to worship with others in community this weekend.
But Tim Keller’s congregation wasn’t left high and dry with this storm in town. Irene might be able to shut a lot of things down, but apparently not so for heralds of the text. . .
Everyone pretty much knows how stinky-winky the NIV Bible can be because of copyright issues. Yuck.
It’s not like the King James version, whose text we can use freely anywhere, whenever we want. Nope, the using the NIV means you’re up against all the commercial interests of the entity behind that very popular translation.
So can you imagine my excitement to hear that for a limited time only – during a specific 400 hours to be exact – I’ll be able to download the entire NIV legitimately to my iPhone this coming weekend.
Yup, YouVersion has done it again to provide great value, accessibility and practicality by striking the deal.
Here’s the details to get the New International Version of the Holy Bible to go with you wherever, whenever you want on your iPhone. . .
. . .a special 400-hour promotion made possible through a partnership with Biblica and Zondervan. Exclusively through the Bible App™ you’ll be able to download the New International Version (NIV) using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android device…absolutely free. Downloading the NIV means you’ll be able to read it anytime, anywhere—even when you can’t connect to your service provider or the Internet, and after the 400 hour promotion is over. This special offer only lasts for a limited time, starting THIS SATURDAY, February 12, at 8:00 PM Eastern and ending at 12:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 1, marking the first availability of the NIV update in print.
Whenever I am doing exegetical work on Scripture passages, it becomes painfully aware how short my bookshelves are in length. It makes you want to go to one of those massive theological book sales and buy out the whole place – especially when books are only $5/all you can fit into a box. But I wouldn’t even have a place for all those books to live in my home library.
The other alternative is to repeat the back and forth and back and forth to the library where they house complete collections of commentary series, Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries. But sometimes you find yourself playing hide and seek when you find that the one volume you need is missing from the shelf – either being used by someone, or waiting in a lonely corner of the library, waiting to be picked up and re-shelved.
I recently decided to take the Google-generation approach to initial research and have tried out the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary on CD-ROM (yes people, software is still published on CD-ROMs in some parts of this world).
That’s because The Voice is more of a retelling of the Bible for the new generation than a new academic translation of the text. After the first time you sit down with the Voice Bible, you’ll notice some really distinctive devices that are used:
screenplay formatting so that you know who’s talking and with what type of tone, attitude or force of message
color-highlighted text to help readers follow along with what’s going on in the passage
devotional commentary intentionally using modern day language and concepts
explanatory book introductions and notes within chapters gives context and details normally found in footnotes – again put in plain English
The “translation committee” drew from traditional academic scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and other artists. The collaborator list includes heavyweights such as Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet. They have the standard ivy tower theologians on the list too so that critics can be satiated, or at least rebuffed. Because of this unusual cast of characters, the final product captures your attention from the first words you read aloud (which by the way is also one of the assumptions in the writing – that it will be read aloud in public settings similar to the oral tradition of the text) whether in public worship, in more intimate bible study groups, or even when you are reading it by yourself.
But sometimes it’s better to see it than hear it. Here’s an example of just how differently The Voice audaciously retells the story:
THE VOICE TRANSLATION : John 3:16-17
16 For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. 17 Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
See the difference? Personally, I found this translation refreshing. While the publisher claims it is written so that it can easily be read aloud, I really like how The Voice is attentive to the reading experience. I did not find myself re-reading parts of a chapter over and over as I do sometimes with other translations.
The Voice Bible which Thomas Nelson sent to me as a review copy was a paperback with heavy off-white pages. It is well laid out visually. Even though it has screen play foratting, etc, it reads really well — not one verse at a time for reference, but read — as in sit down and read the book just as if it any of your other narrative books in your library. And unlike the NIV, this translation is pretty accessible in the fact that it is available for 8 bucks on Amazon right now. (Supposedly all profits also go to missions-based activities/ministries too).
If you like The Voice NT, they are working on the OT translation as we speak. In fact, you can get the [NT + Psalms + Proverbs] during the summer of 2010 (pre-orders already being taken).
Is this a replacement for your NRSV, ESV or RSV Bible? Probably not just yet. But is it a dynamic voice you should add to your casual Bible study praxis or study group discussions? Definitely YES.
QUESTION: What translation of the Bible do you own or carry with you?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Our group is sitting down with Tim Keller over the next two months to go through The Prodigal God DVD-based study curriculum. I’m excited since going through the book in a group will most definitely be different than my first read of the book when it first came out.
Our first group discussion already brought out some tangible thoughts and questions to chew on: Just how do you know if you are really relying upon God for all your needs? Repentance is a concept easily associated with the younger son’s position, but how can I come to a place of repentance for righteous living? Do we all need to be able to identify with both sons? . . . and many more. A lot of the questions started to veer towards how can I ensure that the Gospel is reflected in my life — my daily living? It’s going to be a great study series for all of us.
But today, I have something to get even more excited about.
This is an intensive 8-session course on the gospel. It will the group members explore and understand how it is lived out in all of life—1st in your heart, 2nd in community, and 3rd out into the world. In each session, Timothy Keller presents a 10 minute teaching segment on the gospel. Session 1 opens the course with the theme of the city: your home now, the world that is. Session 8 closes the course with the theme of the eternal city: your heavenly home, the world that is to come. In between, you will look at how the gospel changes your heart, changes your community, and changes how you live in the world.
Each lesson is broken down into a little over 1 hour each:
10 Minutes: A summary of the previous session
20 Minutes: the actual Bible study
10 Minutes: A teaching video by Timothy Keller
25 Minutes: Discussion questions about the message
5 Minutes: An introduction to next session’s homework