The opening line from an article featured last year in
Christianity Today read, “Americans love their Bibles. So much so that they
keep them in pristine, unopened condition.”
Perhaps harsh, yet according to research, perhaps quite
true. The article mentioned a Time magazine cover story reporting that only
half of adults in the United States can name one of the four Gospels and fewer
than half can identify Genesis as the first book in the Bible.
In a Barna research study, American Christians were asked to
rate their spiritual maturity based on activities such as worship, service and
evangelism. “Christians offered the harshest evaluation of their Bible
knowledge, with 25 percent calling themselves not too mature or not at all
mature,” noted Christianity Today. “Even weekly churchgoers who know the names
and places struggle to put it all together and understand the Bible as a single
story of redemption.”
The issue at hand is more than biblical illiteracy: it’s a
lack of discipleship. Believers who have not been discipled may not understand
the necessity of studying God’s Word and applying the truths of scripture to
Pastor Bobby Blanton and the staff of Lake Norman Baptist
Church in Huntersville recently decided it was time to get serious about really
studying the Bible. Instead of just encouraging all the church members to read
through the Bible, the staff made this a collective focus for the entire
congregation for an entire year.
Last year members of Lake Norman were challenged to
participate in The Voyage, a one-year read through the Bible in chronological
order. Every member who committed to taking on the challenge received a
one-year chronological Bible and journal. Lay leaders in the church were
enlisted to write a curriculum to run parallel to the daily Bible readings.
This curriculum was used in all the adult Sunday School classes for the entire
The idea to structure this process of reading through the
Bible in the format that came to be known as The Voyage came from associate
pastor Landon Horton.
“People were looking for an opportunity to read through the
Bible and looking for the accountability they would get from the church and
their Sunday School class as they did that together,” Blanton said.
Blanton used the Wednesday evening services as a time to
work through with the congregation key issues or themes from that week’s
reading. In addition, his sermons last year focused on scripture from the
This required Blanton to stay a good two months ahead of the
congregation in his reading. “It was a daily discipline,” he said. “I was able
to work through things I knew the congregation would be going through. This
brought a greater accountability to me as well.”
Blanton first introduced the idea to his staff and then to
Sunday School leaders. In early 2009, writers were enlisted to develop the
curriculum. At the end of 2009, The Voyage was presented to the congregation
and members were asked to consider participating.
“We wanted them to make the connection between what is in
the scriptures and how it impacts their personal life,” Blanton said. “The Word
of God is very relevant to what we do every single day. No matter what profession
you’re in, what your walk with the Lord is, the Word of God can address your
This year Lake Norman is “building on the foundation”
established in 2010. Last year this time Blanton and his staff were already
looking ahead as to how they would continue with The Voyage.
While the 2010 Bible reading plan maintained an intense
pace, this year’s approach will move more slowly, allowing more time for the
texts. Following a similar format, the congregation is reading through three
books of the Bible this year: Mark, Acts and Revelation.
The congregation is starting with Mark and reading one
chapter in Mark each day of the week for an entire week. When Mark concludes at
the end of April they will begin with Acts.
Blanton said these books were chosen because the 2011 voyage
is a “missions-focused voyage” that will help the church learn from scripture
how and why they need to step up their intensity and focus on missions. The
Voyage is part of the church’s 10-year, Acts 1:8 strategy for discipleship.
Blanton hopes the church will see through their Bible reading this year that
everything they read “relates to our going out and being faithful to take the
gospel to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and uttermost ends of the earth.”
Other churches are now using Lake Norman’s curriculum. “God
took this idea and helped to enrich not just the lives of people around Lake
Norman, but throughout parts of the world,” Blanton said.
For more information about The Voyage visit
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