Perhaps you are somewhere on the spectrum of being new to the Bible and curious where to begin reading and being someone who reads through the Bible continuously and wants to give the Year of Biblical Literacy a try. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you are welcomed. The Year of Biblical Literacy’s strength is its accessibility—a simple (even if challenging) reading plan, a series of fun and informative videos, and thoughtful personal small group materials and sermons. Learn about the Four Layers of YOBL or read the FAQs.
The Four Layers of YOBL
The year was designed in four layers: personal, communal, worshipful, and educational. The layers are meant to work together, providing a more complete context and clarity throughout the year. Below we have provided a brief outline of how each layer was intended to be experienced in particular relationship to the individual's experience within the personal layer.
The Personal Layer
The personal layer is about learning the Scriptures through a daily commitment to opening your heart and mind to God through the spiritual discipline of Bible reading.
The bulk of your time during the Year of Biblical Literacy (YOBL) will be spent reading the Scriptures. The reading plan usually consists of a few chapters of a given book of the Bible + 1 Psalm. Most of the daily readings take around 30 minutes to finish. Some found this to be an overwhelming amount of reading at once and prefered to break up their reading throughout the day, reading one chapter in the morning and one chapter in the evening. It is important to find the pace that works best for you given your schedule, commitments and the natural limitations of your life. The point of YOBL is not to rush through Scripture to say you finished in a year but to become more biblically literate, and thus, more formed by the Bible in your relationship with God. If this means taking it slower (or faster) than the reading plan suggests, please do so.
Watching Read Scripture Videos
The Bible Project has created beautifully illustrated introductory videos to every book in the Bible as well as some of the major themes in Scripture. These videos give you a roadmap of what is going on in a given book, the historical context , and what to look for or notice while you're reading. The videos are meant to be both an introduction and a reference to supplement your reading. In some ways, the Read Scripture videos are the easiest part of YOBL to incorporate and keep up with in your day to day life.
The Communal Layer
The communal layer is about experiencing Scripture together in weekly Community Group (or small groups).
The Bible is a communal book. It was meant to be read and discussed in community with others. The community group, or small group, material is meant to help distill a week’s reading into a time of connection, prayer, and discussion with others who are also going through YOBL. If you are not in a church community going through YOBL, we suggest finding 2-3 friends who could commit to journeying with you.
The material summarizes the major thematic elements of the portion of Scripture read in a given week and offers questions and exercises meant to lead to a deeper understanding and intimacy with God and others. Sometimes these questions are focused on a particular story from the week’s reading. Sometimes they are questions that invite individuals to more vulnerably share the deep, true parts of who they are in light of what was read. The goal is not just intellectual knowledge but also true and beautiful connection with Jesus and your community.
Each material is meant to be finished in 90 minutes and has timed guidelines for how long to spend on each section. You can read in more detail the goal of the material and a breakdown of the major elements in the User’s Guide to the Communal Layer.
The Worshipful Layer
The worshipful layer is about experiencing God in Scripture and worship on a Sunday.
Our Sunday teachings loosely followed the daily reading plan so we were teaching out of a relatively similar place to where we were in the readings throughout the year. By doing this, we were able to provide our church with greater context to the story of God in parts of the Bible that are often overlooked, taken out of context, or dismissed.
If, as you are reading, you come across a part of the Bible that you wish to learn more about or to hear a teaching on, take a look to see if there is an associated sermon. We hope they provide you with more clarity and wisdom to better understand context and God within the story.
The Educational Layer
The educational layer is about expounding upon key themes in the Bible to learn or re-learn the context of the Bible.
The Year of Biblical Literacy Lecture Series is comprised of 8 different lectures by different experts. Ranging from questions about the intersection of science and faith to the problem of evil to race and diversity to Christianity in the public sphere, these lectures are meant to be a more academic unpacking of some of the hardest questions and topics to understand in the Bible by leaders in the field. We hope you will enjoy watching them and grappling with the questions and knowledge they leave you with.