Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Review. . . Bible in 90 Days

I first heard about Bible in 90 Days on a Ring member's blog. Quotidian Grace spoke very highly of it without offering much in the way of details. So, when it came up in my Adult Ed Committee, I was already interested.

Basically, Bible in 90 Days is a curriculum published by Zondervan that uses a specially published NIV Thinline, a Participant's Guide and some seriously good videos to get groups of people to read the Bible, cover-to-cover, in 90 days -- well, 88 actually.

Sound nuts? It works.

My church offered it starting in January. We had almost our entire average worship attendance sign up. We estimate the completion rate at around 80%. I kid you not.

So, what happened here. First of all, the curriculum works. Ninety days is long enough to get it done (12 pages a day in the specially published Zondervan Thinline), but it is still short enough not to lose enthusiasm. Second, the group format provides just enough support. Third, the videos are seriously good. There are actually two sets of videos. We did not use the set done by Biblical scholars. We used the set that is less intellectual. I thought that was a huge mistake. Let me state it here publicly, I was wrong. I'm sorry, you couldn't hear me? I WAS WRONG. The videos were wonderful, and I believe were largely responsible for the success rate.

Other factors involved were that the sermons for the entire 13 weeks of readings came from the week's readings. Second, the brand new Senior Pastor was behind it. Third, we offered virtually nothing else in the way of Adult Ed on Wednesday nights. Fourth, we put some effort into getting groups set up at different times. We had groups meeting Sunday mornings, Sunday evening, Monday morning, Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening and Friday morning.

Is this a Bible study? No. It is just getting through it. So, what's the point? First of all, everyone winds up with at least a passing familiarity with all the major themes and players. Second, the Old Testament ceases to be impenetrably scary when you've actually read it. Finally, it has produced an excitement and a hunger that is really refreshing.

There are two web pages with more information -- and -- one is the official Zondervan site, and the other is a site run by the man who started this whole thing -- at a PCUSA church no less. The two sites work well together. They do have different things, and it is worth checking out both of them.



Quotidian Grace said...

Here's some more information about BIND for you--it was created by Ted Cooper, an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Houston. He had been an agnostic most of his life but one day decided to read the Bible all the way through and by the time he finished was convicted of its truth, became an active Christian, and left his business to create BIND so others might have his experience.

The "non-intellectual" speaker on the DVD series, Jack Modesett, is a long-time popular Sunday School teacher at that church.

When I led BIND at our church it was supported in the same way you are doing it in yours. We were one of the "test" groups that were organized before Zondervan published the program.

It was offered as a celebration of the 25th church anniversary, and the pastors also did a sermon series around it. I blogged about all this at length last year. We had a success rate of about 65%.

My favorite group was the High School Group that met with one of the youth sponsors on Sunday afternoons before the youth group meetings. There were 4 teens in this group--2 boys and 2 girls. And they all finished on time!!!

This is a wonderful program that I'd love to see all churches promote in the way your church is doing.

Shawn said...

I've been intrigued by this since meeting Ted at a funeral I did last summer. Let me ask a couple questions to those who have done this.

1) How important is it to use the particular NIV version of the Bible included in the course? Are the readings divided by chapter and verse or by page number? What if an entire group doing this had the same NRSV version that met the criteria of larger print and not a lot of footnotes?

2) I ask this out of genuine interest, not trying to start a debate of any sort: How evangelical/conservative/insert-label-here
are the videos? This could be an issue for our church. I'd hate to try this study and get distracted from the Bible by having people (or myself) continually disagree with the interpretation presented in the video.

Quotidian Grace said...


The particular NIV version used in the course is just a "pew bible" with large print and no study notes so the reader won't be distracted from the Biblical text. The Zondervan BIND bible is the same thing. The chapters, verses etc are not changed, but the Zondervan BIND bible notes the beginning and end of each days' 12 page readings at the top of the pages.

I think the website has a guide that gives a 90 day schedule for reading by chapter and verse that divides into the 12 pages a day that can be used if you use another Bible.

It helps if everyone in the group is reading the same version. There isn't time in this course to make comparisons about translations. But there's no reason you couldn't all use a NRSV version and use the schedule to divide out the readings, if using the NIV is an issue. You want people to read the Bible, not get hung up on which translation they're using!

There are 2 sets of videos that come with the set. Jack Modesett's DVD's are the ones JusticeSeeker's church used. Jack is conservative/evangelical.

The other set has a professor of OT and a professor of NT lecturing and are more academic in approach and less conservative.

I've used both sets and personally prefer the professors, but recognize that Modesett's more devotional approach was very popular with a lot of people.

You don't have to use the DVD lectures. Our Sunday School group only had 45 minutes, so they did the readings and had lectures presented by a couple who were willing to do this. You could do it that way.

You (or anyone else) who'd like to discuss this further can email me at jody dot harrington at gmail dot com.

Amy Stewart said...

Speaking as one of the participants at JusticeSeeker's church, we had just about every possible format going on in our church. Most people did buy the Zondervan version and I found that helpful because of the beginning/ending notes every 12 pages. It made it much more simple to know when to stop (or conversely, how much further I had to go in one sitting).
Some people joined one of the small groups for the group discussion and then some of the groups watched the video, depending on when they met.

On Wednesday nights, the groups met together to listen to one of our ministers give a lecture/sermon on a rotating basis instead of the video.

Those people on the staff that wanted to participate met together each week before our regular staff meeting to watch the video and discuss.

There were also plenty of people (my husband included) who just read the bible and did not participate in a group. There were (and still are) handy dandy printouts of the reading schedule available to pick up at each of the entrance doors to the Sanctuary and elsewhere in the building.

There were also a number of stories of people asking to purchase more copies of the B90 Bible/study book to give to friends of theirs.

It was a delightfully successful program and what a great way to see the overarching picture of God's story.