If you are participating in the Bible in 90 Days challenge, today you are on Day 88 and should have read through the end of the Bible!! Woooooo-Hoooooooo!
How’s it coming? Can you believe we are reaching the end of our reading, or have already finished reading the entire Bible?
If you aren’t finished, the program has 2 grace days built in… You’ve got until Wednesday to finish on time, so don’t worry.
And, because it is a 90-day program, this is NOT the final check-in post. There will be a new “Finisher” post up this Wednesday, with another MckLinky and the opportunity for everyone to comment about their experiences with the program. My hope is that the bloggers among us will post final thoughts and a wrap up post and link to Wednesday’s post, so we can all be inspired by everyone’s stories and we can have our own blog graduation party. . . I’ve already wept at many of your emails. Your stories have been amazing and heart-warming.
Now, in lieu of a blogger guest post this week, I’ve asked Greg Nance to share with you how he led his whole town to participate in reading the Bible in 90 days. I heard him tell the story last November at a meeting in Houston for the Bible in 90 Days ministry. A few day’s later I invited a few bloggers to help me get the word out about hosting an online community of readers on MomsToolbox.com.
I wonder how his story might inspire you…
Amy, praise God for all He is doing to bring His people together through simply reading His word, the Bible! Thank-you for the opportunity to share our story in your blog.
I’m Greg Nance, a preacher for a small congregation in a bedroom suburb of Chattanooga, Tennessee, called Signal Mountain. My wife and I moved here from New Hampshire where we had served in two churches from 1981 to 1998. We’ve been with this church for almost 12 years now and one of the greatest blessings this church has ever experienced in her 60 year history is reading the Bible together in 90 days and joining with our entire community to do so.
It all started in 2007 when our little congregation (150 members) read the Bible through in one year. We decided to have a singular focus as we read together so we used a question to keep us on target: “Where do you see Jesus in this scripture reading?” We invited members to our home on Thursdays to simply read and discuss this together. It was a very good year!
Our Sunday morning Bible classes (adult) and sermons were a review and application of the week’s readings (usually about 25 chapters each week). I even emailed each day’s readings to all the members who wanted it. We ended the year with a grand finale view of Revelation and Christ’s return. The church responded very positively and I was wondering, where do we go from here?
My wife had been listening to a Christian radio station and they talked about an entire community who had read the Bible in 90 days together. We “googled” it and found Ted Cooper’s website and began praying about doing that here. (I must say, I thank God for what he is doing through Ted! His ministry of the Bible in 90 Days is a tremendous blessing).
Before bringing this to our elders, my wife and I decided to do it ourselves to see what it would be like.
We ordered the starter kit that has DVDs, advertising, a workbook and a 90 Day Bible that has the page marked where you start and stop. It was difficult at first because it required a daily time of about 35-45 minutes of reading to get through. But doing it together really helped us stick with it as we kept encouraging each other and sharing what we had read. Each Friday after our reading, we would pop in a DVD and hear what John Walton or Mark Strauss would tell us about the week’s readings, and that always led to a discussion about it with each other. If we hadn’t done it together, I don’t know if I would have finished it the first time. This was an important lesson for us: it helps to do it with others and talk about it together as you go.
We prayed and believed that God wanted us to do this as a church and perhaps as a community.
I took it to the elders and they were positive… not overly excited, but positive. Then I asked about taking it to the neighboring denominations to see if we could do it as a community. I shared that another community had done it and that I believed we could, too. And if we took the lead as a church to help it happen, I thought that would give us exposure and perhaps open some doors with the churches around us for conversation about God’s word.
The elders agreed that this would be good and I had their permission and blessing to start.
Now for the work! The very last thing I wanted to do was to go talk to the preachers of those churches and try to convince them to do this. But God stirred my heart to do it. I went to the biggest church in our community first: Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church. The preacher there and I had met and visited in the past and he was friendly toward me and always encouraging, so I thought he would be a good start. Bill Dudley is his name and the church there has about 2000 members.
I crafted my speech with questions that I hoped would capture the imagination and interest of the preachers: 1. How would you like to see everyone in our community read the Bible together? 2. Would you be supportive of an effort to have a community wide drive to get as many as possible to join together to do that?
Then I would share the plan to do the Bible in 90 days as a community.
I didn’t think many “Christian” preachers would say, “No! I think it’s a bad idea to read the Bible together.” But preachers are wary of “outsiders” and their agendas. I know. I’m one of them.
Bill Dudley was my first prospective team member in this endeavor and I called him to ask if I could come to his office to discuss something I believed was very important for our community. He welcomed me to come over and I nervously went.
His reaction surprised me, “What a great idea! We have a new high school opening here this fall and this would be a great kick off for our new school!”
I thought, “Thank-you God! That was much easier than I expected.”
He suggested that we email all the ministers in our community and have a luncheon to discuss this together. He had his secretary send out the invitations and he even offered to host the meal for all who would come! We figured that most preachers couldn’t pass up on a free meal! We had a prayer together and I went back to my office amazed.
The email to the other preachers went out but only three out of 16 responded: two replied with regrets and one seemed interested. Bill was discouraged, but I was on fire at this point and nothing could put it out. God would simply NOT let me give this up. I told Bill, “Don’t give up yet! If I had received an email about that, I might not have taken it seriously myself. Please hang in there and I will contact these preachers in person and let them tell me to my face that they don’t want to do this.”
I worked hard for the next two weeks calling and going to meet with these pastors and preachers. One church, (The Bible Church) responded that they were not interested! I called and asked them to please let me come and talk with them before they refused. They were very gracious and let me meet with the pastor and elders of their group. After showing them the little promotional DVD (from the kit) and discussing it with them, they thanked me and promised to prayerfully consider it. The next day they called to say they were happy to be on board and would promote it with their members and in the community. After this I went to the large Methodist church and Baptist church and they both said yes. Now we had some momentum. From there I went to every church in our community telling them what “We (other churches) were planning” and one after the other agreed to join the effort.
As the momentum grew, the fire and excitement within me grew. I knew that God was using me to do something in our community that would glorify Him and bless us all.
I tried to take a laid back position in the decision making and leadership of this, but they all looked to me for what to do next.
We have a little community newspaper so I decided to spend my own money and purchase a full page ad to capture attention from those who were in the community.
The first ad was this: I asked every pastor of the participating churches to send me a brief (50-75 word) statement about why reading the Bible is important, along with a photo of themselves. I built an ad that said in bold letters across the top: “All these area preachers AGREE!” (That caught attention quickly) Then it said, “We want everyone on Signal Mountain to read the Bible together!” Then our pictures and statements were featured around the Bible in 90 Days Logo, with a date for when to start and finish: September 1 – November 29, 2008.
What I didn’t count on was that those churches would see it and offer to help pay for the ad! So I did another ad the next week that had pictures of members from every one of the participating churches with sentences from them about how important the Bible is to them.
Again, the funds came to pay for that ad.
We ran five full page ads in the five weeks leading up to the starting date for reading the Bible together.
Next, I put together a little 8″x10″ cardboard stand that said: “We proudly support our community-wide reading of the Bible in 90 days!” It had the 90 Day Bible logo and a list of participating churches and a pad of 50 schedules for reading that I got out of the back of my 90 day Bible.
I went to our local print shop to ask about how much it would cost to print up the pad 2500 schedules. I showed my little stand and told the owner about the plan and she said, “That’s a great idea! I’ll donate the printing for you!” Again, I was shocked.
I then went to just about every business in our community asking them if they would allow me to put up a little display with the pad of reading schedules. If they accepted, I told them I would put their business in the paper for free telling that they supported this event. By doing this we got the attention of many people in the community who do not go to church. Almost every business accepted!
Finally, I contacted our Mayor, police chief, fire chief, Senator, (Bob Corker) and Congressman (Zack Wamp) to tell them about what we were doing and ask if they would be willing to endorse our community-wide Bible Reading event. The Mayor and our Senator and Congressman said yes and they gave me a little statement saying how proud they were that our community was coming together to do this.
All in all, we bought about $2500 in advertising and I only had to pay for $500 of it after the other churches pitched in.
We called a meeting of all the preachers from the participating churches to a luncheon to plan our schedule and how to kick off our church readings. The Presbyterians bought several hundred 90 Day Bibles at a discounted rate and these were available for anyone who wanted to purchase a copy. The local book store also stocked them for sale and that helped get the word out again.
Through all of this, I had been in touch with Ted Cooper of the Bible in 90 Days ministry and he and Ellie Tow were a tremendous help and support.
A spirit of appreciation and expectation began to build as people all over Signal Mountain began talking about it. There were a few in our community who were not pleased, but that is to be expected.
Our congregation held Sunday evening 90 Day Bible reading meetings and invited anyone interested to join us. Ted Cooper came to help churches organize meetings and even kicked off our first public weekly meeting at the local public library.
It was a work of God! People everywhere in the community were talking about it. One of our ladies at church told me that she went to get her hair done and everyone in the salon was talking about the Bible! She said, “That was a first!” Some of the businesses that were closed when I went around asking them if they would put up a display and offer free reading schedules actually called me to ask why I had not been there and invited them! I apologized and made up extra displays and brought them to them.
Of all the things I’ve ever done in ministry, this one has been the most amazing.
God has used it to bring more unity in this community between churches than anything I’ve seen. After this adventure together as churches, the next year these churches came together again and hosted an area-wide fund raising meeting to support a Bible teacher in our public high school. God again moved and in one amazing evening 10 churches of various denominations meet together and raised over $200,000 to pay for two Bible teachers in our public middle and high schools! Go to www.Bibleintheschools.org to find out more about what God did here.
We are just waiting to see what will the Lord do next! When we read the Bible and listen obediently to God… well, He has certainly amazed us!
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Alright, readers… don’t forget to link your posts and comment away with how your reading is coming.
I can’t wait to chat tonight and celebrate on Wednesday!!!
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