The Year of Biblical Literacy has been a year of both great celebrations and challenges and ultimately, we are happy to have gone through it as a church. There are many ways you as a pastor can lead your church through the entire year, or a small part of the year, or through a major theme or topic in the Bible. Whatever your desire is, we hope that you can find the tools available below useful, including sermons (transcribed and audio), lectures, recommended books, and a teaching outline. 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 and also some of our key learnings from the year.
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.
At Reality San Francisco, we noticed that folks in our congregation were having varying experiences within the personal layer (i.e., the daily readings). Some people in our church were unable to make it past the first month and never picked it back up again, some picked back up in the New Testament, while others completed the year in full. Upon further reflection, having a better pulse on where our church was generally within the readings would have helped us pastor our congregation through the struggle and also encourage people to jump back in.
The Communal Layer
The communal layer is about experiencing Scripture together in weekly Community Group (or small groups).
The communal layer allowed our church to stay connected throughout the week. We created customized small group material for every week, specifically based off of that week's daily readings. Many people found great comfort in being able to go to their small group each week and share their joys or struggles with Scripture or with a teaching. The material was designed internally by our staff and created specifically for the context in which we live, in San Francisco. The material is absolutely available to be used and we encourage you to adjust the material as needed for your own context.
The Worshipful Layer
The worshipful layer is about experiencing God in Scripture and worship on a Sunday.
The sermons we taught throughout the year loosely followed the daily reading plan which meant we were teaching out of a relatively similar place to where we were in the readings throughout the year. The sermons were broken up into smaller, more digestible series to help our church follow the story of the Bible and the story of God within the Bible. Early on, we gave our church the opportunity to share particularly challenging questions they have in the Bible, which is how the sermon series, “The God I Don’t Understand” came to be.
By waiting until August to fully enter into the New Testament, we were able to intentionally look at and digest some of the texts that are often either overlooked, dismissed, or completely taken out of context. As a result, when we finally arrived at the New Testament, there was both a collective sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment shared within our church. All of our sermons are available for access. We have transcribed each sermon as well if that is helpful in your own digestion of the content. We also have several resources available, including books, teaching outlines, and hermeneutics guides to further your preparations and study.
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 educational layer nicely complemented the worshipful layer. Hosting Bible scholars and theologians allowed our church to gain perspective and contextual understanding of some of the most interesting and challenging topics in the Bible. Some of the highest attended lectures were around the topics of canonization and human origins, both of which were frequently referenced throughout the year.