Blue Angels vs. Goldfish
Everyone a winner – that was our goal at the beginning of the Bible reading emphasis. More specifically, the goal was to increase the number of people reading their Bible every day. Well, what has happened? How are we doing? Our organizers divided the congregation into two alphabetical teams as evenly as they could, based upon the list of those that attend. Team names chosen were the Blue Angels for the first half of the alphabet and the Goldfish (think of the ancient Christian symbol) for the second half. The goal was not how much you read, but to read at least 5 verses every day. People, including children reported their reading through their classes and small groups. Adults could read to younger children. (Those who were not attending a small group could report directly to the organizers.)
Discipline is not easy but accountability helps
Surprisingly, there was a little mumbling among even some seasoned Christians at being asked to participate in something that required one to be accountable for the discipline of Scripture reading. But, as the contest progressed, conviction and the encouragement of friends prevailed. This illustrated that though we sometimes resist being accountable to one another, it is almost always beneficial to us in the long run. Discipline is not easy. I have to confess that during the five weeks, I missed one day myself while traveling. But I was glad for the added accountability provided by the contest.
Classes and groups influential
The idea of reporting to small groups turned out to be very influential, especially among the adults. Participation in several adult classes grew as the contest continued. Last week three adult classes, those led by Larry Nemitz, George Raterman and Claude Walrath, all reported 100% of their members reading every day. Congratulations to these teachers and their classes.
Hearing of increases in Bible reading across the board is a great win for everyone. Contest records show that 31 people never missed a day in the first four weeks. (Those who have a perfect record for all five weeks will be recognized at the dinner.) They set the pace for all of us. Another inspiration is learning of personal stories like that of a family of four, who read every day from the sermon coordinated suggestions—the father read to his family. When the father had to spend a few days in the hospital, his young son volunteered to take his place. (At their suggestion, I’ll be making a list of coordinated reading for the next three weeks too, even though the contest will be ended.) Another family called in their points while traveling. (Families were allowed to call in points one Sunday out of the five.) I’d love to hear more stories of how you have been blessed by the Bible reading contest.
A great example of encouraging one another
The first two weeks of the contest, only one team, the Blue Angels, received the bonus for having more that 60% of those participating reading every day. The second week, neither team received it. But by the fourth week, both teams exceeded 70% of readers reading every day. The highest percentage so far was 76% reading daily achieved by the Goldfish on week three. At this writing, the Goldfish are looking strong. Of the people on their team, on the average, they had a larger number who read their Bibles and reported than the Blue Angels did, which added up. But certainly we all win by confirming the habit of Bible reading. So we will all celebrate with a dinner on Nov. 10. A big thank you to key contest organizer JoAnne Jones, John Risley—who helped with stats— team captains Mark Boswell and Rhett Laforte, and Sunday School teachers and group leaders who helped encourage their class. This was a great example of putting into practice Hebrews 10:23-25. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (NIV 1984).