When Marc Champagne first planted Redeemer Church (Cincinnati, Ohio) in 2012, he wanted his fledgling congregation to be exposed to the entirety of God’s Word and grasp the whole scope of redemptive history.
While he could and would attempt that from the pulpit, he wanted to take the idea a step further. So in the first year after the church’s founding, Champagne issued a challenge: that the congregation would commit to the same daily reading plan, which would walk them, individually and corporately, through the entire Bible over the next 365 days. When the year came to a close, Champagne found the charge so rewarding that he foresaw repeating it every five or six years.
“There’s something about knowing that we’re all on this journey together,” Champagne says, likening it to a long, cross-country road trip. “It unites us and reminds us that we are headed in the same direction. There’s a built-in sense of wanting to persevere as well as encourage one another to stay the course, all the way to the destination at the end.”
The church, now in its seventh year, fulfilled that hope in 2019 by committing to a congregation-wide chronological daily Bible reading plan that one of its church members, Jared Meidal, suggested. Meidal regularly reads through the Bible chronologically and has found that every year he does so, he regains an appreciation of the big story Scripture is telling, from start to finish.
Champagne agrees, saying, “I think there’s great benefit in reading through the Bible from cover to cover, especially chronologically, to see how God’s unfolding redemptive plan fits together into our lives.”
Champagne’s Sunday sermons are inspired by the previous week’s readings, which has helped keep congregants engaged and enthusiastic about the commitment.
“I find myself anticipating what God has taught Pastor Marc,” says Redeemer member Diane Gerndt. “I learn some new insight from the same passage that I read just days before, every time. It’s amazing how the Spirit of God teaches us, especially through the preaching of His word. It truly is active and alive.”
As congregants trek through the texts in tandem, the process paves the way for sharing what they are learning as they go. Countless conversations have been sparked in small groups, over coffee before or after service, and across the dinner table among families.
It’s that collective piecing together — much like how a quilt of disparate patterns and mismatched fabrics comes together to create a thing of beauty — that has been another source of joy for Champagne, both as a pastor as well as personally.
As he hears stories about how the Scriptures are shaping members’ lives in sundry ways, he is able to enter into the encounters they are having with God’s Word. “There’s a richness in that,” he says. In the process, invariably he comes away being touched by some new insight that shapes and sharpens him, too.
In doing so, the challenge has connected the congregants closer not only to Christ but also to one another as a worshipping community knit together, one Scripture at a time.