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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

5 Ways to Move from Bible Reading to Bible Engagement

Updated: Feb 19

Many of us have experienced that moment when we realize we've been reading the Bible, but it hasn't quite sunk in.

Even as a pastor for over 20 years, with a Bible college degree in theology, I sometimes find myself in the same spot. I've read it, but have I ENGAGED it?

We might be going through the motions, but the true depth and impact of the Scriptures elude us. Discipleship is more than Bible reading. To truly engage with the Bible, we need to move beyond mere reading.

Why Bible Engagement Matters: The Research

A Study by The Center for Bible Engagement (CBE) found that there were significant differences in the lives of individuals who engage with scripture four or more times a week compared to those who do not. According to the study, engaging with the Bible four or more times a week leads to:

  • A 228% increase in the likelihood of sharing faith with others

  • A 59% decrease in viewing pornography

  • A 407% increase in memorizing scripture

  • A 30% decrease in struggling with loneliness

Here are five practical shifts that must take place to make this transition in your discipleship journey or discipleship ministry:

moving from bible reading to bible engagement graphic

1. Move from reading the Bible to studying the Bible.

Reading the Bible is a wonderful habit, but there's a difference between reading and studying. When you study, you're actively engaging with the text. This means comparing different passages, seeking connections, and taking notes. Write down your thoughts, questions, and insights. This process not only helps you understand the Bible better but also encourages deeper reflection.

To get the best Bible reading plan for brand new Christians, try this:

2. Move from reading the Scripture to praying the Scripture.

Transforming Bible reading into a two-way conversation with God can be a powerful tool for engagement. As you read, allow the Bible verses to guide your prayers. Praise God for the wisdom and truths you find. Confess where you fall short or misunderstand. Ask for His guidance and strength to live out His word. This practice turns Scripture into a living dialogue with the Author Himself.

This is what I was aiming at when I created the How to Pray the Psalms resource. To work on this type of Bible engagement, you can download a free copy of this guide for praying the Scripture here:

Personally, this method changed the way I viewed Scripture -- forever! It's far different than simply "covering the content." It's doing what my friend Nathan Brown calls "creating The Conversation."

3. Move from reading verses to meditating on verses.

Meditation, in the Christian context, isn't about emptying the mind, but about filling it with deep reflection. It's akin to digesting food to extract its nutrients. Choose a verse for daily meditation and spend time mulling over its meaning. Consider how it applies to your life. Formulate one or two meditation questions to guide your thoughts. This practice helps you internalize and apply the Scriptures in a meaningful way.

4. Move from reading to obedience.

The ultimate goal of engaging with the Bible is transformation, not just information. It's about living a life aligned with God's will. Each day, after your reading, identify a specific way you can put what you've learned into action. It might involve changing a behavior, adjusting how you speak, or realigning your values. The key is to find a practical step toward obedience.

5. Move from solo reading to community reading.

While personal Bible study is valuable, engaging with the Scriptures in community adds another layer of depth. It helps prevent us from imposing our own biases and preferences onto the text.

The truth is that discipleship happens best in community, not in a solo environment.

So, here's a thought:

Consider forming a small group of 3-4 friends. Choose a Bible reading plan or one of the Bible engagement resources below, and commit to daily reading. Share your insights and reflections with one another. This not only fosters accountability but also enriches your understanding! The other people in your group will often have an insight you didn't notice.

Summary of the 5 Bible Engagement Habits

Incorporating these practices into your Bible engagement routine can lead to a deeper, more meaningful connection with God's word. Remember, it's not about how much you read, but how well you engage with what you read. May these steps guide you towards a richer experience with the Scriptures!

Bible Engagement Resources

Here's a helpful list of resources that can help you move from just Bible reading to Bible Engagement:

How Church leaders can increase Bible Engagement

If you're a church leader and want to increase engagement with the Bible beyond simply browsing Facebook groups for Bible memes, you need a plan, a program that can help you design resources and structure them for creating engagement within your church.

You need to create a discipleship program -- and you want more than simple Bible reading, you need to think about what kind of discipleship pathway you're wanting to build. You need to "reverse engineer" your discipleship program to get clear on what kind of disciples you want to create.

Here's a free download of my resource called "How to Build a Clear Discipleship Pathway."

Here's a quick example of the discipleship pathway that I've created for use here in OKC, over the last few years.

discipleship pathway template sample

For more information on this discipleship pathway, you can visit the NewStart Discipleship information page.

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