The Year of Biblical Literacy for Pastors
At Reality, the Year of Biblical Literacy was full of both celebrations and challenges. And ultimately, we’re glad to have gone through it as a church. As a pastor, you can lead your church through the entire year, just a part of the year, or through a major theme or topic in the Bible. Whatever your goal is, our resources are entirely at your disposal, and we hope they’re helpful for you.
The Bible Project and Read Scripture have created a unique and powerful daily reading experience called Read Scripture to help you engage with the Bible. Your members can download the Read Scripture App below, as it cleanly presents each day’s reading along with the beautiful Read Scripture videos. A PDF guide is also available.
Read Scripture Videos
The Bible Project has created some amazing animated videos that provide context for every book in the Bible. They’ve also created several theme videos that shed light on some of the most important and challenging themes we see throughout the Bible. Click on each video playlist below.
Small Group Material
The year itself moves fast, so having a space to dialogue and reflect with others is important for true engagement with the story of God. We created the guided material below in such a way that anyone can facilitate a gathering. Questions range from highly academic to tenderly personal.
Here you’ll find the year’s Sunday teachings from both Reality SF and Bridgetown Church. We encourage you to peruse by series and then teaching. Additionally, you can read all teachings in transcript form.
We hosted several Bible scholars and theologians to share about their areas of specialty. These lectures equipped our church to gain perspective and contextual understanding of some of the most challenging topics in the Bible.
Here are a few recommended books to help guide you and supplement what you are reading throughout the year.
The Four Layers of the Year of Biblical Literacy
The year was designed in four layers: personal, communal, worshipful, and educational. The layers are meant to work together, providing a more complete context and clarity throughout the year. Below, we have provided a brief outline of how each layer was intended to be experienced and also some of our key learnings from the year.
The Personal Layer
The personal layer is about learning the Scriptures through a daily commitment to opening your heart and mind to God through the spiritual discipline of Bible reading.
At Reality, we noticed that folks in our congregation were having varying experiences within the personal layer (i.e., the daily readings). Some people in our church were unable to make it past the first month and never picked it back up again; some picked back up in the New Testament; still others completed the year in full. Upon further reflection, having a better pulse on where our church was generally within the readings would have helped us pastor our congregation through the struggle and also encourage people to jump back in.
The Communal Layer
The communal layer is about experiencing Scripture together in weekly small group.
The communal layer allowed our church to stay connected throughout the week. We created customized small group material for every week, specifically based off of that week’s daily readings. Many people found great comfort in being able to go to their small group each week and share their joys or struggles with Scripture or with a teaching. The material was designed internally by our staff and created specifically for the context in which we live (San Francisco). We encourage you to adjust the material as needed for your own context.
The Worshipful Layer
The worshipful layer is about experiencing God in Scripture and worship on a Sunday. The teachings we taught throughout the year loosely followed the daily reading plan, which meant we were teaching out of a relatively similar place to where we were in the readings throughout the year. The teachings were broken up into smaller, more digestible series to help our church follow the story of the Bible. Early on, we gave our church the opportunity to share particularly challenging questions they had, which is how the teaching series, “The God I Don’t Understand” came to be.
By waiting until August to fully enter into the New Testament, we were able to intentionally look at and digest some of the Old Testament texts that are often overlooked, dismissed, or completely taken out of context. As a result, when we finally arrived at the New Testament, there was both a collective sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment shared within our church. In addition to providing the audio and video of each teaching, we have also provided transcripts. We’ve also provided our list of recommended books.
The Educational Layer
The educational layer is about expounding upon key themes in the Bible to learn or re-learn the context of the Bible.
The educational layer nicely complemented the worshipful layer. Hosting Bible scholars and theologians allowed our church to gain perspective and contextual understanding of some of the most interesting and challenging topics in the Bible. Some of the highest attended lectures were around the topics of canonization and human origins, both of which were frequently referenced throughout the year.