As 2020 draws to a close, like many others, I’m thinking about how this year was a massive struggle for me and how I want to set spiritual goals for the upcoming year. As a pastor, I often encourage our church to be in the Scriptures and read through the Bible each year. As I’ve put more thought into Bible reading goals, I’ve been thinking about setting goals to help as many people read the entire Bible in one calendar year as possible. Would you begin a plan with me starting January 1st and read through the entire Bible in 2021? Let me explain.
The Bible is absolutely sufficient and is the source of encouragement, wisdom, instruction, and most importantly—the revelation of God to us. As I consider the fact that a large percentage of people who claim to be Christians have never read the entire Bible, how wonderful would it be to begin a plan that would assist people in reaching a spiritual milestone? Not only would it be a big goal to achieve, it would breathe life into your soul spiritually and help you along life’s journey.
A Balanced Plan
There are many different plans out there to help you read through the Bible. My friend David Miller once described his reading plan that he practiced for ten straight years. He would read sixteen chapters of the Bible each morning. That would allow him to read the Bible four times in a calendar year. As a result, he has committed a massive portion of the Bible, including long continuous sections, chapters, and paragraphs to memory.
The plan that I’m using is the M’Cheyne One-Year Bible reading plan. Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813 – 1843) was a pastor of St Peter’s Church Dundee (1836 – 1843). As a pastor, he had a great deal of affection for God’s Word and put a great deal of emphasis upon the reading of the Scripture. He developed the plan to help his church. M’Cheyne said, “‘Let God’s voice be the first we hear in the morning.”
M’Cheyne wrote the following to his church:
Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence upon self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day.
I have grown to appreciate this plan for several reasons. The main reason is that it keeps you in both the Old and New Testament each day which allows you to see the big picture in a more succinct manner as you work along through the text each week. Rather than spending a great portion of 2021 in the Old Testament prior to reaching the New Testament, this plan allows you to ebb and flow through the year which often prevents burnout along the journey.
Why Read the Entire Bible?
When I was in school, I remember the teacher explaining that my book report had to be a minimum of 850 words. I kept an eye on the bottom of the screen of the Word document as I went along and if I came up short, I would go back to specific sections and add sentences. This would allow me to reach my minimum word count necessary for the assignment.
As we think about the Bible, we must remember that holy Scripture does not contain any filler words. There are no wasted sentences or paragraphs. Every word is from God and provides us exactly what we need for life, worship, and to serve our Lord. As we read the entire Bible, not only will we get to know God better, but we will get to know ourselves better as well. It will help us along life’s journey. As Jerry Bridges once said, “Bible reading enables us…to enjoy communion with God as He speaks to us from His word, encouraging us, instructing us, and revealing Himself to us.” 
The Plan and How It Works
If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can download the ESV Bible app which will allow you to have the Bible with you at all times. I find this is essential, especially on those busy weeks when unexpected interruptions or extra heavy responsibilities take you away from your normal Bible reading routine, you can catch up at lunch or in the waiting room of the hospital.
Once you have the Bible app on your phone, I would encourage you to click on the gear icon and make some adjustments. First, I would turn it onto “Night” mode which makes the background dark and the text light. You can also make other text adjustments that might assist you. I’m not a big “red letter” text guy, since I believe that all of the Word of God is God breathed (another blog post for another day).
Next, you will want to click on the calendar icon at the bottom of the screen and you will immediately see reading plans. Scroll through to find Bible reading plans, and click on that button. You will see different plans available, but scroll through until you see the M’Cheyne Reading Plan. Select that one, and you will see how it’s organized. You begin on January 1st and it will assist you in reading through on the appropriate schedule which is catalogued in your app and allows you to know your progress.
You can also use the Holy Bible app (YouVersion) if you already use that app on a regular basis. Simply search for the M’Cheyne One-Year Bible reading plan and start it on January 1st.
Using an app is much easier than printing out a chart and checking boxes, but if that’s what you prefer, you can find that chart here. You can also find another helpful chart, if that’s your thing, here.
If you’re like me, you might use the app, but read through the text in the Bible. I often do that when I can, because I prefer reading the Bible from a book rather than a phone or tablet, but I do love the technology that helps me stay organized, so I use both!
Encouragement and Accountability
As you read through the Bible, send out a message on Twitter or your preferred social media platform that says something like:
“Day one of my 365 day Bible reading plan is complete. Will you join me? https://g3min.org/will-you-read-the-bible-with-me-in-2021-g3biblereading/ #G3BibleReading”
“Just finished my daily Bible reading. Staying spiritually strong in 2021. https://g3min.org/will-you-read-the-bible-with-me-in-2021-g3biblereading/ #G3BibleReading”
It would be good to encourage your Sunday school class or small group to jump in on this plan too. As we all watch the hashtags, we can easily encourage one another throughout the 2021 year. If you use Instagram, post pics of your Bible reading and include the hashtag #G3BibleReading so that we can follow along with your progress and encourage one another.
May the Lord encourage you and build up your soul as you make spiritual progress in 2021. I look forward to seeing your hashtags and encouraging you along the journey!
- Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996), 39.