Seventh-day Adventists regard themselves as “the people of the Book.” For Adventists the Word of God is central. It is the foundation of our faith. Every doctrine and teaching of the church is rooted in God’s Word.
From the early days of the move - ment, Seventh-day Adventists have begun their day reading the Bible. It has provided inspiration and guidelines for Adventist parents raising their children. It has been a source of encouragement for Adventists facing life’s challenges. It has been the guiding voice in a world of religious confusion.
An honest analysis of Bible study in some sectors of the Adventist Church today reveals a disturbing trend. A world-wide survey (3,646 surveys returned) by the Institute of Church Ministry at the theological seminary at Andrews University reveals that only 51% of the Seventh-day Adventist administrators, pastors, and lay people who responded have any form of daily devotions and family worship. Another disturbing reality is that only 39% of our members participate in any type of witnessing activity.
These troubling statistics lead church administrators to ask some crucial questions: If it is true that only half of our members have a personal devotional life and conduct family worship, and an even fewer number share their faith, what can be done to reverse this situation? What can leadership do to raise the importance of reading and sharing God’s word? What can leaders at all church levels do to increase the number of Adventists spending time each day studying their Bibles and witnessing for the Lord?
Since “no other Book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad enabling truths of the Bible” (Ellen G. White, Step to Christ, p. 90), and that “none but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict” (E.G.W., Great Controversy, p. 593), Satan will do everything in his power to keep God’s people from the Word.
This downward trend in Bible reading and witnessing among Seventh-day Adventists will not be reversed quickly, and will not change by simply initiating a new Bible-reading program. It will take concentrated effort with continued emphasis on the importance of re-igniting the believer’s on-going relationship with the Word of God over an extended period of time.
“Follow the Bible” is part of a coordinated initiative by church leadership to lift the vision of Seventh-day Adventists worldwide in renewing their commitment to read, study, and share the Word of God.
Church leadership envisions an international “Bible Route” with a copy of a Bible traveling the world between October 2008 and June 2010. It is envisioned that the entire Adventist community will be invited to follow the Bible as it journeys the world. The journey will take it through the cities, towns, and villages, inviting large numbers of Adventists to gather and recommit their lives to following the Bible through reading and study.
From day one of the “Follow the Bible” journey, it is envisioned that millions of Adventists worldwide will participate in creative —old and new— Bible reading activities, such as marathons and other public events as the Bible passes through their areas. Church leaders will have an opportunity to re-focus their church programs by addressing large and small groups gathered to rededicate themselves to the Word of God as the Bible is brought to their church or school. When considering witnessing outreach, the “Follow the Bible” journey will provide an opportunity to invite others to also follow the Bible. The “Follow the Bible” offers an opportunity to partner with international and local Bible societies in raising the profile of Bible reading as the Bible travels from country to country.
As plans unfold, in just two years, the Bible will travel throughout every world region (divisions) and it is hoped that momentum will build within the international Adventist community, as possibly the most traveled Bible in the history of the world makes its journey. This Bible will be preached from and read in more languages than any other book in the history of mankind.
To assist in making the “Follow the Bible” an exciting activity for all Adventist believers, all communication ministries of the church are involved in promoting the initiative and covering the journey. The communication plan also includes media relations and activities that are featuring the Bible’s journey.
An array of technological options lends itself to assist in “Follow the Bible” —the Internet, radio, television and Adventist publications —to inform, inspire and motivate believers in following the Bible. A web site (www. followthebiblesda.com) covers the journey, and includes features offering Bible readings, study and testimonies. A camera crew is chronicling its travels in a video diary, and church publications are chronicling the odyssey of the traveling Bible.
At the end of the journey, similarly to an Olympic runner carrying the eternal flame, a young person will sprint into the Atlanta Convention Center on the opening night of the 2010 General Conference Session with the Bible in hand to present it to the General Conference president. This will create a moment to call God’s people to follow the Bible.
The purpose of this initiative is to create a significant world event and capture the imagination of Adventists worldwide, fostering Bible reading and sharing God’s Word.
“Follow the Bible” has the potential to lift our vision from what is to what it can be.