One of the world’s leading Bible publishers and translators announced a Scripture-reading campaign aimed at changing lives, not just improving Bible literacy, this week.
Biblica, previously known as International Bible Society-Send the Light and originally founded 200 years ago in New York City as the New York Bible Society, is describing the campaign as a Bible engagement initiative and calling it the Community Bible Experience. The publishing organization announced the program from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday.
The unique aspects of the program include the fact that participants read through a translation of the New Testament that has been stripped away of the “additives” of the last 500 years. Also, readers are encouraged to read about 12 pages per day and do so as a group activity.
“We're not terribly interested in Bible literacy,” Paul Caminiti, Biblica’s vice president of Bible Engagement, told The Christian Post. “That seems to be the buzz word that everyone uses. We don't care if people get better at Bible jeopardy. We want them to see God's big story so they can find themselves in it.”
Caminiti said that chapters and verses were removed from the New Testament in order for a “more natural book order” to be restored.
“We created a Bible that is much more like the Bible in its original format. We gave the Bible an ‘un-makeover’ and people love it,” he said.
The initiative was created as a response to hundreds of people giving up on reading the Bible daily “despite having more access to Scripture than any generation in history,” according to Biblica.
“Most Bible engagement initiatives take more of a ‘Bible vitamin’ approach,” Caminiti said. “We believe that people are ready to be slightly heroic, and that has been proved in our tests where we ask people to read about 12 pages a day.
“We're experiencing a 75 percent success ratio and most people who don’t finish in the eight weeks, finish in the next two weeks.”
Biblica also wants to emphasize in this plan the importance of reading the Bible in a group of people.
“Community Bible Experience stresses the importance of community,” Caminiti said. “For most Bible readers, those who haven't given up, Bible reading is a solo sport. But the Bible wasn't written to individuals. It was written to communities of faith.
“So, we're working to recapture the first century approach by introducing a ‘book club’ approach to studying the Bible.”
Those wanting to start the Community Bible Experience can sign up at Biblica.com/CBE. Videos, testimonials, and other resources are available on the website. The next session begins Sept. 25.
Caminiti said he hopes to see transformation take place in churches as well as individuals.
“We didn't aim for increased attendance or higher offerings or more baptisms, but that's what's happening when whole churches start taking Bible engagement seriously,” he said.
Biblica’s ministry outreaches are in more than 55 countries, according the group’s website. The publishing group has translated the Bible in more than 100 languages. It is the translation sponsor and publisher of the New International Version (NIV) Bible, which the organization says is the most widely read and trusted contemporary English translation.