Turning Pages, Changing Lives
Members of churches in Charlotte, NC, band together for a 40-day journey through the New Testament called the Community Bible Experience.
In early 2017, a group of readers in Charlotte, North Carolina, decided to read a best-selling book from cover to cover.
But this was no ordinary book club.
For one thing, the group was enormous. More than 5,600 people participated. Most of them attended one of many churches across the Charlotte area. And the page-turning book at the heart of their club was written more than 2,000 years ago.
During the 40 days of Lent, a group of 15 churches in Charlotte completed a Scripture-reading journey called the Community Bible Experience. Using a reader-friendly New Testament created by Biblica, thousands of people studied the Scriptures with fresh eyes. Through support from American Bible Society’s prayer and financial partners, this one-of-a-kind book club is inspiring a deep love for God’s Word in Charlotte.
What sets the Community Bible Experience apart from other Bible studies is The Books of the Bible—a New Testament Scripture Portion containing no verse numbers, chapter numbers, or footnotes. This fresh format makes it less intimidating for people to flip open the New Testament—and to keep turning pages.
“The Bible can be kind of daunting because it’s so big,” explains Rev. John Burton Jr. of First Baptist Church West in Charlotte. “But if it’s a small book, and it’s in conversational language with no verse numbers … they can understand.”
Charlotte residents who completed the Community Bible Experience agree with Rev. Burton; the unique format of The Books of the Bible helped them dive deeper into God’s Word than ever before.
“It’s more like it’s a story that goes on. It inspires you to continue,” says Mamie Young, a member of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte. “It’s like I’m reading a novel.”
Mamie started attending a Bible study at her church two years ago and found the Community Bible Experience in 2017 to be particularly formative in her faith journey.
“The Community Bible Experience is important in my life because it is endearing the Bible to me,” Mamie says. “It is making me want to learn the Word of the Lord so that I can be able to live by his Word.”
While Mamie appreciated the special quality of this unique Bible-reading experience, other participants were more amazed by the quantity of God’s Word that they read in such a short amount of time.
“I was startled reading it,” says Emmanuel Moore, who also attends Mount Carmel Baptist Church. “We’re supposed to read a certain section in so many days, and sometimes I would read ahead!”
And Emmanuel is not alone. According to Biblica, eight out of 10 people who participate in the Community Bible Experience finish reading the entire New Testament in 40 days or less—just like Emmanuel.
After tearing through their assigned New Testament reading for the week, Community Bible Experience participants, such as Mamie and Emmanuel, gathered in small groups to ask honest questions about the passage that they read—questions like: What did you notice for the first time? What challenged you? How does this passage show you God’s love? Answering these simple questions about God’s Word made a big difference in people’s lives.
“People come in excited to share what God has been speaking to them,” says Rev. Jacotron Potts, a pastor at The Park Church in Charlotte. “The people who would normally sit back and be quiet are now becoming empowered and confident in their understanding of the Word of God.”
One of those people is Mamie, who says that her study of the New Testament helped reduce the anxiety that she feels for her family—especially for her growing grandchildren.
“I used to worry about things,” Mamie says. “But now I know that I have a Father who is taking care of me and who is going to be there for me and for my family.”
Thanks to this one-of-a-kind book club, the Body of Christ in Charlotte is more firmly rooted in God’s Word. What started as a 40-day journey through the New Testament has become a lifestyle of meaningful Scripture engagement for thousands.
“People are really engaged,” says Robin Brown, a member of The Park Church in Charlotte. “We’re going to see some long-term effects of this.”
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