Earlier this year, our team gathered together in Colorado Springs and met with a friend of ours who has been deeply involved in Christian publishing for decades. He had been loosely following our work and our story, but was interested in hearing what we are up to these days.
So in the private room of a local coffee shop looking out across the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak in the distance, we began unpacking our big vision of what “Changing the Way the World Reads the Bible” really looks like. Our friend sat back in his chair, listening intently.
We talked through the various elements of how we want to reshape people’s understanding and use of the Bible: Creating easier ways for them to read at length and “feast” on whole books; giving them the tools they need to understand the Bible’s big, overarching Story; helping them understand the ins and outs of different literary genres; showing them what good improvisation of the Story looks like in our modern lives today; inviting them to fresh, communal experiences reading the text together; and more.
He absorbed our vision and thought for a minute, half-watching the gliders lazily coasting over the Air Force Academy in the distance. “You know, the Bible industry right now is an incremental industry. They make relatively small updates, small improvements, small tweaks. What you guys are doing is kind of nuts.” Um, thanks?
“Today’s Bible world reminds me of Microsoft,” he said, “They have this huge empire that has, arguably, built the modern world. But what are they doing right now? Relatively small software updates, minor improvements, pretty low innovation.” He looked at us. “What you’re doing sounds more like Elon Musk.”
Elon Musk? The somewhat-off-the-rails billionaire launching electric cars into space? The guy who believes humans have so destroyed the Earth that the only viable option is to abandon our planet and populate Mars?
“Whatever you think of his personal beliefs and philosophies,” our friend explained, “Elon Musk is a man who sees industries that are stuck in stagnation – the auto industry, the space industry, the city transportation and mass transit industry – says, ‘this isn’t acceptable’ and goes to work challenging assumptions, redefining norms, and creating new technology that facilitates what he believes is a better way forward. Sounds a lot like you guys.”
We believe that change is necessary in the Bible world. Which isn’t to say that we think everything in the current system is broken – indeed, people are still meeting God and encountering the Gospel through his written Word. But is the Church fluent in the Story? Is it what captivates their imaginations that defines their lives? The recent data that 64% of young people leave the church after high school suggests that there’s a disconnect. Something isn’t working.
“Whenever I open a regular Bible, I get tense. I don’t really know what to do with it,” one high school student told us. A woman who had read the Bible for years finally admitted, “If you’ve been a student for most or all of your Christian life, it can become rote. You can lose a sense that this has something new for me this time.” We met a woman who is an ordained minister and told us a secret she’d carried for years: she really didn’t care to read the Bible unless she had to. We have dozens of these stories. These people are out there, and the challenges they face are becoming more and more widespread.
We believe there’s a better way forward, and we created ChangeMakers for people who share in that belief. By participating in ChangeMakers with a monthly gift, you’re not just supporting our ministry, you’re joining a movement. You’re linking arms with people who believe in a better future for the Church, and it starts with helping our brothers and sisters become immersed in our Story.
This fundamentally different approach to reading and engaging with the Scriptures, which has already begun to impact so many lives, won’t take hold just because our organization hopes for it. It will take hold through people like you, advocating for Bible book clubs in your church, handing a copy of Immerse: Messiah to a friend who’s struggling to read the Bible, and helping your kids and grandkids see the beauty not just of the Bible’s stories, but of its Story. It’ll take hold because a growing community across the country and around the world, in each of their individual churches and unique contexts, says, “We can do better.”
Interested? Click here to learn more.