Nearly 500,000 churchgoers throughout Houston have joined a citywide Bible listening campaign.
Church leaders from more than 40 denominations have encouraged their congregations to take the "You've Got The Time" challenge, a 40-day campaign of listening to the New Testament for 28 minutes a day.
"This is a super opportunity to get on the same page as a church family," said Dr. Ed Young, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church of Houston, in a statement. "Most of us have been reading the Bible for many, many years. Listening to God's Word, however, can add even greater depth and understanding to our times in the Scripture."
The campaign is an initiative of Faith Comes By Hearing, an Audio Bible ministry that currently offers audio recordings in 355 languages.
With research showing that 65 percent of Americans have never read the entire New Testament, the Albuquerque, N.M.-based ministry began working with community, business, and church leaders in Houston to get churchgoers engaged with Scripture "in a meaningful way."
"This initiative was designed to empower the local church with a way to get people engaged in the Scripture. Just like we reach people around the world ...we know it's also important to do the same thing in America," said Troy Carl, national director of Faith Comes By Hearing, on Moody Radio.
According to Carl, the Houston campaign is a "specific focused strategy to see an entire city saturated with the word of God starting first with the local churches."
Participating churches in the You've Got The Time program receive free audio Scriptures on MP3 discs as well as Biblesticks, which are small digital audio players pre-loaded with an entire New Testament and may be more suited for the technologically challenged, says Young. Accommodating different age groups, the ministry also provides KIDZ Bible recordings for children.
Congregants are encouraged to listen to the New Testament as a church family and then also help support the recording of languages for poor and illiterate people. Faith Comes By Hearing aims to complete the recording of 2,000 languages by 2016 as well as start 1.8 million listening groups to reach the 50 percent of the world who are illiterate and poor.
So far, nearly 59,000 churches across the country have participated in the ministry's Audio Bible listening programs.
In Houston, about 400 churches representing 450,000 people have joined You've Got The Time in the first quarter of 2009. Churches that have participated from Houston include St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church and Second Baptist Church along with those of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
While any church in the country can participate in the initiative, Faith Comes By Hearing is specifically targeting the top 25 metropolitan areas over the next few years.
On the Web: faithcomesbyhearing.com