Below we have provided a general teaching outline we used to prepare for the Year of Biblical Literacy from a teaching standpoint. You will notice that the outline is brief and only provides touch points we considered in preparation for the year. Please note that our teaching schedule evolved over the year. However, this might be a helpful framework to begin thinking about the year and how to move through it. 

Snapshot of the Four Layers of YOBL:

  • Personal: Promote the Read Scripture app and have everyone use it to read through the Bible on their own. 
  • Communal: Construct a community group curriculum around the reading plan. 
  • Worshipful: A year of series that keep pace with the reading plan and steer it towards spiritual formation.
  • Educational: Offer Lectures and classes that cover difficult topics.

Basic Flow of Reading Plan:

  • Jan 1-Mar 4 Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) 
  • Mar 5-April 17 Historical books (Joshua-Kings)
  • Apr 18-May 18 Prophets before the exile (Isaiah, Hosea-Zephaniah)
  • May 19-June 15 Wisdom Literature (Job-Song of Songs) 
  • June 16-July 17 Prophets of the exile (Jeremiah-Ezekiel)
  • July 18-Aug 6 Post-Exile: Stories and Prophets
  • (Ezra-Neh, Esther, Daniel, Hag, Zech, Mal)
  • Aug 7-22 The Chronicles
  • Aug 23-Oct 4 Gospels – Aug 23-Oct 4
  • Oct 5-18: Acts 
  • Oct 19-Nov 29: Paul’s Letters
  • Nov 30-Dec 14 Apostolic Letters
  • Dec 15-23: The Revelation

Series #1: The Bible & Authority

**Point of series is to answer a few questions: What is the Bible? What is the Bible for? How do we approach it’s authority? How do we read the Bible? 

Part 1 

The Problem with the Bible
Jesus and the Bible and Authority

Luke 24:36-49 and Matthew 5:17-20

Luke 24: After the empty tomb, the disciples still didn’t grasp what happened to Jesus. The risen Jesus appeals to the storyline of the scriptures to explain (1) who he is, (2) what God’s mission is in the world, and (3) what Jesus’ disciples are supposed to be doing. Jesus lives in a scripture-shaped world. 

Matthew 5: Jesus came to fulfill the scriptures = to bring its storyline to its culmination.
Jesus was the ultimate Bible-geek: he saw himself and his entire world in light of the scriptures and their story, and he viewed them as a divine, authoritative word over his disciples. 

Jesus used the scriptures as a source of divine guidance: 

Example: Matthew 19:1-6: when asked about broken marriages, he goes to the beginning of the biblical story to find God’s will.

The point for us: If we want to follow Jesus, we need to adopt his view of the scriptures and his practice of reading and immersing himself in them.

Our pastoral/communal journey:

  • We all have different stories of our experience with the Bible: little or no exposure, childhood over-exposure, life-long confused-exposure, or positive exposure. 

Your personal story: 

  • The why/vision for the coming year
  • One of the most important, life-shaping habits we can cultivate is the regular reading and immersing ourselves in the Scriptures. 

Jesus and the Bible (Jesus’ relationship with the Bible, argue about it, pray it, study it, challenge people to it). We follow Jesus, Jesus cared about the Bible. How Jesus reads the bible

Cast vision: pastoral vision (the why) and vision for the coming year. 
Jesus texts that show how Jesus looked at the bible
How Jesus works with the bible

How Jesus reads the bible, what he pays attention to (Matthew 18 and divorce), this is a great example

Part 2 

The Reason for the Bible

The “text” that seems to be most in favor on the American landscape today is the sovereign self. (Eat This Book 16)

Page 59 of Unbreakable about how we can’t replace the “holy bible” with the “holy Spirit” So good. 

Unpack and use a lot of “The Book that Make Your World” stuff…showing how the Biblical literacy created our modern world and we have a lot to be thankful from it. 

What is the Bible (definition) and what’s it for?

Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
It’s a unified story leading up to Jesus: “the holy scriptures which make you wise for salvation through faith in messiah Jesus” (3:15)

It’s a Divine/human word: “All scripture is God-breathed” 

Covenant documents: “useful for teaching, challenging, correcting, and training for what is right”

The Bible is an authoritative word to those who have chosen to follow Jesus and follow him. We put ourselves under the authority of these words, we accept them as binding on our lives.


Unified story: We can’t cherry-pick commands or verses out of context, we have to respect the flow of the story.

Divine/human word: We can’t ignore the bible as merely what people thought a long time ago
Covenant Documents: If I want to follow Jesus, I’m accept these texts as binding on all parts of my life.

Part 3

The Origins of the Bible

Tim Mackie Lecture 

Part 4 

The Art of Reading the Bible

Touch upon hermeneutics, artful reading, and reading backwards 

Page 28 in Eat This Book: This text is the authority for living well both now and into eternity. 

Law and Narrative reference from Bible Project podcast: How to read the bible, especially the Old Testament and how do we do it. 

What do we do with the Bible?

Joshua 1 and Psalm 1: Read, meditate, pray, respond.

Reading as a form of spiritual formation: Lectio Divina 

Series #2: The Story of God

At the beginning of this series read Andrew Wilson “And God Said:” on page 11 of Unbreakable

Karl Barth insists that we do not read this book and the subsequent writings that are shaped by it in order to find out how to get God into our lives, get him to participate in our lives. No. We open this book and find that page after page it takes us off guard, surprises us, and draws us into its reality, pulls us into participation with God on his terms. (Eat This Book, page 6) 

The five acts of storytelling are generally organized this way: (1) The first act gives us essential background information, introduces the important characters, and establishes the stable situation that will be disrupted by the events about to unfold. (2) The first action begins usually with the introduction of a significant conflict. The middle of the play (3) is where the main action of the drama takes place. Here the initial conflict intensifies and grows ever more complicated until (4) the climax, or point of highest tension, after which that conflict must be resolved, one way or the other. After climax comes (5) the resolution, in which the implications of the climactic act are worked out for all the characters of the drama, and stability is restored. 
This is the structure that NT Wright has in mind when he describes the biblical story as being like a five-act play, of which a large part of this fifth act is missing. It is for the actors (us) to improvise a suitable second scene in act 5, preparing for the conclusion God has revealed, toward which our play must move. (The Drama of Scripture, pages 25-26) 

Book of Strange New Things, explain how Peter the pastor is trying to flatten the Bible and remove the stuff the alien’s don’t understand and they don’t want that. They want it pure. They love the bible because it’s a different story world. Their world is flat, the Bible is the Book of Strange new Things. 

“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story, there is a story teller.” –GK Chesterton 

Part 1

Creation and Kingdom

Texts: Gen 1:1-3, 1:26-28

  • Where are we? God’s good world, made for goodness, beauty, and life: Gen 1:1-3: God takes darkness and disorder and brings beauty, order, and life. 
  • Who are we? creatures made to image God, dirt and divine breath
  • What should we be doing? “rule the land” the creation commission to build God’s world under his rule

Part 2

Rebellion in God’s kingdom 

The Fall

Texts: Gen. 3-11

  • The tree represents a choice, humans believe a lie about God, define good and evil for themselves
  • Gen 3-11 shows creation spiraling out of control under the abuse of human sin
  • Babylon as the epitome of the human condition: pride, technology, autonomy from God

Walton Lecture 

Part 3 

Abraham’s family and the covenant:

  • Gen. 12:1-3: God chooses a family to bless so God’s blessing can come to all nations
  • Exod. 19:1-6: God rescued his covenant people, gives them Torah, so they can become ‘kingdom of priests’, to show the other nations what God is like. 
  • Israel’s failure and the lesson learned:
  • Exodus 20: the ten commands + Exodus 32: Israel’ immediately breaks the commands: 
  • Israel’s history is one of failure, rebellion, leading to exile: 2 Kings 17 is a great text here. 
  • What’s the value of tragic stories?
  • They explore the tragedy of the human condition
  • They warn us of paths we don’t wanna go down

Part 4 

Jesus announces the kingdom of God 

Jesus and the OT, how we need the OT to understand Jesus: Use the example from Reading Backwards page 12. 

Part 5 and 6

The people of the kingdom | The kingdom in full/the future 


Series #3: The Symbols of Christ 

Part 1 

The Water (Baptism)

Part 2

The Meal (Last Supper/ Communion) 

Jesus enjoys table fellowship with these outcasts, and he heals them. “Jesus practiced a radically inclusive table fellowship as a central strategy in his announcement and redefinition of the in-breaking rule of God.”  Meals are not casual matters in Jesus’s time. They are “highly complex events in which social values, boundaries, statuses and hierarchies were reinforced.” A meal is richly symbolic of a warm welcome into one’s social group. The Pharisees believe that many kinds of “sinners,” the sick, and the poor should be excluded from fellowship within the community because they stand under the judgment of God (cf. John 9: 2). Jesus’s meal etiquette depicts God’s kingdom as countering the social practices of Roman and Jewish society: social hierarchy, divisive boundaries (religious, social, and economic), and exclusion.

Drama of Scripture, page 144

Part 3 (Good Friday | Easter) 

Good Friday: The Cross (Crucifixion) | The Grave (Easter)

Two weeks on what NT Wright talked about key texts of Paul in Phil 2 and Col 1
"Jesus' loyalty to God and love for us."
-Gorman, page 84

Good Friday- "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" chap 7 of Gorman's Reading Paul


Series #4: Difficult Parts of the Bible / The God I Don't Understad

Create a survey for church to fill out: What are the most difficult parts in the Bible for you?

Providence & free will 

(if/then.. in the OT) 

Two major themes that emerge during this time, King David Dynasty and Temple 

  • Violence 
  • Gender & Sexuality (2 weeks) use book: Engendered 


Series #5: The Prophets

Part 1 

Who the prophets and what are they about? Isaiah 1:1-28:

  • Covenant watchdogs for Israel’s leaders
  • Accusers of social injustice
  • Announcement of God’s coming justice
  • Promise of God’s future mercy and salvation

What is biblical prophecy? 
Covenant watch dogs, challenge God’s people and bring comfort of God’s future. Exposing hypocrisy in God’s people. Unveiling God’s heart. 

Part 2

The coming Kingdom:
Isaiah 11:1-10: Classic text about the coming messianic reign
He’s endowed by the Spirit: reminding us that humans need to undergo a fundamental transformation before we can be what God made us to be
He brings justice and peace
Creation itself will be transformed
All nations
Clash of Kingdoms / Critique of Kingdom 

Part 3 

Upside-down kingdom:
Isaiah 53: God’s kingdom comes through the messianic king giving up his life to die for the sins of Israel and all nations

Part 4

Hope of the New Creation  
Isaiah 2 and 65:17-25: All nations and new creation eschatology
God’s mission is to restore his good world, through the messiah and his kingdom


Series #6: The School of Life 

The goal of this series is to explore the main ideas of the wisdom literature and to highlight how they equip God’s people to deal with the reality of evil in our world and in our lives. 

This series could have lots of different structures

Here are some books that were helpful in preparing for the Year of Bibilcal Literacy: 

Eat This Book By Eugene
Why the Bible matters by Mike Erre 
The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns 
The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard Hays 
The Book that Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi
The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith 
Seized by Truth by Joel Green
Read the Bible for a Change by Ray Lubeck (for the people) 
The Mission of God’s People by Chris Wright 
The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew (for people) 
Reading Paul by Michael Gorman 
Wisdom’s Wonder by William Brown  
Dueteronomic History by Terrance Fretheim (Joshua-Kings)
The Suffering of God by Terrance Fretheim