I have never been able to pull together much of a routine in any area of my life. This includes reading my Bible. That doesn’t mean I don’t get into the Word every day—it just means I don’t interact with my Bible the same way, every day. If that’s you, or you’re looking for a creative idea to add to your regular routine, here are four tools and one tip for connecting with scripture…
If you’re looking for a creative idea to add to your regular Bible reading routine, here are four tools and one tip for connecting with scripture…Click to tweet
1. I use Logos to study and YouVersion to read. These are great apps. Logos is robust and has a lot of “pay for” content, and it’s an amazing tool if you are a content creator. YouVerson is an amazing FREE resource—it features loads of Bible translations, devotional plans, and interactive elements. (Pro Tip: Buried in YouVersion is a cool feature called “community notes.” Open App>Click Read>Click a Verse>Swipe Left on Bottom Menu>Click Related>Scroll and Read Community Notes)
2. I’m in a group chat with 20+ middle-schoolers, and from time to time I post/host a YouVersion devo plan. It’s pretty cool because we can read it together on our own time and on our own devices. Right now we’re reading through the “Together: Middle School” 15-day plan (you can search for it in your app). There are three stages to each day of this plan, and #3 is pretty great.
- A short devo thought.
- One verse to meditate on.
- Readers can type a personal thought that the verse sparked. I love #3 because the comments can be seen by the community of readers. If you want this type or reading community, find a plan and invite preteen and teenagers to read and post with you.
4. I love using digital tools for the sake of convenience (one iPad at Starbucks in easier than 60 pounds of books). But I’m still tactile—I love writing on paper. Here’s a sample of how I print passages as I prep for preaching. Sometimes I use colorful pens, highlighters, and markers, but I always print four copies of the passage I’m teaching on 11×17 cardstock. Then I tri-fold those sheets to fit nicely in my backpack and the back of the far right tri-fold becomes another blank space to write. This is 100% for my brainstorming and outlining. The best ideas are moved to Evernote and then eventually copied and pasted into a final teaching document.
Pro Tip: I find this document to be:
- More distraction-free than any “distraction-free” word processing app, and
- Helps me read a passage before being influenced by other study resources like study Bible notes, commentaries, podcasts, and sermons.
- It’s a nice, disposable resource that allows me to draw, graph, and see themes. You can easily create this and try it out.
My digital Bible is not less authoritative than my print Bible, but like I said in #4, I still love the feel of paper in my hands. I currently use three Bible’s on a regular basis: The CSB, because that is what our church is using in our main services, my Jesus-Centered Bible because I love the blue letters in the OT, and the newly released ESV Scripture Journal: John because The Gospel of John is the book we’re teaching through in our services. The ESV Scripture Journal gives you an entire page to write on. The OT and NT sets are expensive, but you can purchases books individually for about $5.
Those are my four tips and tool, but here is one technique that has helped me along the way. Rick Lawrence, the longtime editor of GROUP Magazine and the General Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible, once challenged me to slow down when reading Scripture and to ask what he calls “The Oprah Question.” I cannot explain it nearly as well as he does. I highly encourage you to pause for 20 minutes and watch this video. The pattern laid out in this video will help you exercise some different reading muscles, and I bet you’ll be able to experience more of what Scripture is saying. (In addition, you could practice what you see here in your ministry—it could infinitely carry into your Sunday School curriculum).
If you’re quick on your feet you could have your group pick a random passage and GO! If that is not your thing, pick a passage ahead of time, do this process on your own with that passage, and then help your group walk through it. But don’t give them your answers—wait on their answers and do your best to guide them.