Although statistics report that more than 700 people give up reading the Bible every day in America, one Christian church in New Jersey is bucking the trend.
Church leaders recently challenged congregants at Liquid Church in its three New Jersey locations—Morristown, Nutley and New Brunswick—to devote 40 days to reading through the New Testament by Easter (Mar. 31). In response, more than 3,300 adults and children have begun to read the Bible cover to cover during the season of Lent.
"The outpouring of interest surprised us," said Tim Lucas, lead pastor of Liquid Church, one of New Jersey's fastest-growing churches. "Although the media often highlights how irrelevant the Bible seems to modern culture, there is a growing hunger among the next generation to open the Scriptures and see what God's Word says for themselves."
To support the Bible reading, the church gave away more than 4,800 copies of the New Testament for free to members, friends and anyone interested. More than 300 volunteers have been trained by the church to host and facilitate almost 200 local reading groups across the state. Ten of the groups will meet weekly online using Google+ Hangout video conferencing services. Each group, consisting of five to 12 people, will meet weekly for eight weeks during the next two months leading up to Easter Sunday.
"Our oldest member reading the Bible is 70 years old, while our youngest is 7," noted Lucas. "Although some think the Bible is an outdated document, young and old are discovering its message is timeless."
All told, more than 66,000 hours worth of reading time are being invested in the Bible literacy movement growing in New Jersey.
"So much of our faith today has been reduced to bumper stickers and bracelet slogans. But God's message of love and hope is profoundly personal, and our people are hungry to experience it firsthand. It just goes to show you, when God shows up, things heat up," said Lucas.