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Pastor challenges congregation to read the Bible in a year
Janet Fitzgerald explains the sign-up sheets for Bible discussions to Clayton Thiessen at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. - photo by Tom Reed

The Rev. Ben Haupt is challenging his congregation to read the entire Bible in a year.

And while the challenge may seem daunting, Haupt, pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gainesville, said he has found a way to make it easy and understandable.

Haupt said he came up with this idea "because a lot of people just don't have knowledge of the Bible the way they used to."

But, he added, reading the Bible doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will understand it, so he has set guidelines to help people have a deeper understanding of what the Scriptures actually mean. These guidelines include reading two to three chapters a day, receiving weekly written summaries, listening to Sunday sermons and attending small groups twice a month.

Haupt says two, three or even four chapters can be read just by setting aside 15 to 30 minutes daily. He also recommends that people read at the same time every day to establish a habit.

The congregation will receive weekly written summaries about what they have read, as well as what it means, and how the Bible relates to everyday life.

Plus, all Sunday sermons throughout the year will be based on what part of the Bible was read the previous week.

"This way, even people that don't read the Bible can still benefit from the sermons," Haupt said.

Along with the weekly summaries and Sunday services, Haupt said there will also be small groups meeting twice a month to further dig into the meaning in the Bible's chapters.

Each group meeting will feature a short video from Haupt explaining what they have read and also will include discussion questions.

Pam Jovaag, a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church since 1993, said she is excited about the upcoming year.

By reading the entire Bible, she said, she hopes "to have a deeper understanding of the connection between the Old and New Testament and to learn more about how prophecies from the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New Testament."

Haupt is recommending reading from the English standard version of the Bible.

"It's a little bit easier for people to understand," he said.

There are 66 books in the Bible — 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Haupt said he plans to spend one to two weeks on each book.

By the end of the year, he said, people should not only have a good grasp of what the Bible is all about, but also have a greater knowledge of Jesus.

"First, I think it's important for people, as citizens of this country and as Christians, to have an idea of what the Bible is about," he said. "Secondly, the Bible is about Jesus. People that read the Bible can get to know Jesus better.

"Finally, I think it's important for people to have a better understanding of the Bible so that they can spread the news to others."