Reading the Bible cover-to-cover? Well, Stop it.

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Reading the Bible cover-to-cover? Well, Stop it.


I’m a life-long Christian. This is the tribe I was born into. I’m a 27-year follower of Jesus, having decided to trust Him for myself when I was 16. I’m a 20-year veteran pastor. That all means that the Bible has been deeply a part of my life for a long time.

I have a high view of scripture and take its guidance seriously. I preach from it almost weekly. I read it almost daily. I’ve fought with scripture, cried over scripture, been humbled and amazed by scripture, and been deeply challenged by scripture. More than anything, except perhaps my parents, God has used scripture to shape who I am.

So, with all of that background, it may surprise you when I say this:

I think it’s a terrible idea to read the Bible straight through.

Most of the time, for most of the reasons that motivate us, reading the Bible straight through is something most people just shouldn’t do.

“What?!” You exclaim. “How can that be? Are you telling people not to read the Bible?”

Nope. I’m not. I’m a big advocate for reading and reflecting on scripture. I think most Christians need a dramatic increase in the time they give to scripture, and a deeper willingness to let it be a guide in their lives. I think the biggest challenge the modern church faces is having only a superficial understanding of and relationship with Jesus, one that barely impacts our daily lives at all. Changing that can’t happen without a passionate, ongoing, risky engagement of scripture.

Like I said, I’m a big advocate for people reading scripture. And yet, I think reading the Bible through from cover to cover is—for most people—not helpful, and sometimes even hurtful.

This week we are continuing our summer teaching series, “How to Read the Bible When You’ve Got Really Good Reasons Not To.” This week’s discussion? “How to read the Bible when you keep getting bogged down in Leviticus.”

We’re going to be talking about the nature of the Bible and the purpose of the Bible, and how your time with the Bible can be more meaningful and helpful to your life. I hope to see you there!

– M.

(Photo Credit: George Redgrave)