Abide: Bible Intake

By Chuck Lawless

Living in the Word: Bible Intake for Church Planters

I was a new believer, and my church leaders told me clearly that I needed to read the Word. What they didn’t tell me, though, were why, and how to read the Word. So, I recognized my responsibility, but I didn’t understand the motivation or the process for being obedient. Consequently, I struggled with this spiritual discipline. Now more than 40 years later, I’m still not sure churches do much better talking about the why and the how. Perhaps these thoughts will help.

Why we must read and study the Word is clear:

1. It is God’s Word. That fact alone should be enough the drive us to the Word. We know that truth. In fact, we preach it. We just don’t always live it. When we only sporadically study God’s Word to know Him, we treat it as just another book. 2. It’s profitable for us. Paul told us about the Word. It’s good for teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us in righteousness. It equips us for what God has called us to be and do (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Even the best-trained church planter who isn’t systematically in the Word will not be fully trained for the task. 3. It’s the Sword we wield in spiritual battles.If you want to put yourself on the enemy’s radar screen, commit to planting a church that does the Great Commission. If you want him to defeat you, though, spend too little time in the Word that stands against him.

Even the best-trained church planter who isn’t systematically in the Word will not be fully trained for the task.

4. Our personal time in the Word affects who we are publicly. Regardless of how gifted we may be as a pulpiteer or a leader, everything changes when we know we’ve genuinely been in the presence of God through His Word. Private obedience leads to public Holy Spirit unction. 5. The Word is the message we proclaim. At least, it must be if we want life transformation among our congregation and our community. We must study the Word to know it well, proclaim it clearly, and apply it accurately. 6. We’re striving to reach people who are looking for real answers.Folks living chaotic lives in a dangerous world aren’t looking for stories and humor alone; they want a word from God. That word comes from the Word.

How, then, should you and I study the Word?

1. Follow a reading plan. That’s basic, but critical. If you wait until every morning to determine what you’ll read that day, life will quickly distract you from that task. Get a plan, and stick to it. 2. Focus more on consistency than quantity. I’m more concerned that you read regularly than I am that you read large portions every day. Consistency in the Word results in love for the Word—which can then lead to increased quantity. 3. Use a good study Bible.A study Bible with notes will help you understand the Word without your needing to open other resources during your devotion time. Stay in the Word as much as possible.

Consistency in the Word results in love for the Word—which can then lead to increased quantity.

4. Write an action step every day. Reading the Word without personal reflection and application is incomplete. Read and study the text, and then determine one action step you might take as a result of reading the Word. Write it down somewhere. Keep it in front of you throughout the day. Apply the Word. 5. Hold yourself accountable to someone. Here’s the method that works for me. I write a brief summary of what I’ve read, what I’ve learned, and how I’ll apply the text—and I send a daily email to my wife and a few accountability partners. 6. Quickly start again if you get behind. If you quit your plan because you miss a day, you’ve surrendered to the enemy. Instead, get up, open your Bible, and start reading again. Most of us have the privilege of having God’s Word in our language, with free access to it. Don’t miss that opportunity. Read it. Study it. Apply it. Teach it. Plant a church that loves it. ——————- Chuck Lawless is Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, and Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists of the International Mission Board. Website: www.chucklawless.com Twitter: @clawlessjr Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CLawless

Published February 9, 2016

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Chuck Lawless

Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with “Church Answers” to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.