Jacob Ugljesa: I was sitting together with some friends eating lunch one Saturday afternoon. The conversation of our phone usage and screen time came up. I knew for a fact I spent a lot of time on my phone; in fact, I was spending 10 hours a week just using social media apps. I was challenged in that moment that something in my priorities had to change.
I contacted my Avondale University College friends and fellow Theology graduates, Jono and Maciej, about a Bible study plan called the 90-day reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app. The goal was a big one: read the Bible in 90 days, cover to cover, discovering the big picture for ourselves. Instead of studying “individual tree leaves”, we would take a step back and look at the whole tree—the story of scripture from Eden lost to Eden restored.
Maciej Kuberek: Jacob mentioned to me the idea of reading the Bible in 90 days. At first I felt it would be a challenge reading so much in such a short amount of time. However, I wanted to give it a go in order to challenge myself whilst doing the journey with some friends. After leaving Avondale, a group of us became close and kept in contact online. When Jacob challenged me to get involved, I invited Jono to join the challenge with us.
Jonathan Gillard: At first I thought it was a joke. Is that even possible? I’d have to spend the whole day reading. I have often wanted to read the bible through cover to cover, however each time I’ve struggled with the 365 day reading plan. Perhaps it’s the length of the reading plan, or maybe the dedication and commitment required to read it through in its entirety. As I look back, I don’t know why I said yes, but I’m glad I did!
How reading the Bible changed us
We found it hard to always be consistently reading large passages of the Bible. Along the way we wrote notes in the app and that would notify the others. This constant reminder from our friends’ progress encouraged us to open the app and read for ourselves. Our unified goal, combined with the notes we would write, kept us focused on what is important. We all watched our screen time shift from using social media to reading the Bible.
We thought that by reading the Bible faster we would miss a lot of its message, but it actually made a lot of sense. We could see the story in it from beginning to end, one that points forward to Jesus and what God has done for all human beings. Reading the Old Testament would sometimes frustrate us, as we read about human failure. At the same time, we were encouraged as we saw the plan of salvation that God has for all humans.
We also noticed the way this challenge drew us all closer together. We were reading the same passages, highlighting the Bible, writing notes and commenting on each other’s thoughts. At the end of our time, we would reflect on the passage and share our thoughts each other. Every time we saw the others comment on a Bible verse, it would inspire us to read more and think deeper about Scripture. By checking in on each other every day, this challenge became our own online small group.
It’s your turn
We finished reading the Bible in 90 days at the end of January. We discovered it wasn’t about how I read the Bible in 90 days, it was about how we read the Bible in 90 days. Now more than ever we realise the importance of staying connected in an isolated world. Many of us are wondering what “church” looks like in a world where church doors are forced closed by COVID-19. This experience has reminded us how church was meant to be done: in community.
Perhaps you and your friends would benefit from doing an online Bible reading plan together. You don’t have to be face to face to experience church community. Grab a few friends, download the YouVersion Bible App and search for a Bible Reading Plan that interests you. Start reading together and you never know what gold you might discover!