PRS for the New Year: Set Goals and Track Your Progress!

Here are some reasons why setting a goal and tracking your progress is important, not only as an example for yourself but also as a recommendation for those you serve.

As we usher in a new year, many people are making resolutions, whether committing time to more exercise, saving money, or striving for better health by shedding a few pounds. Setting goals is an essential first step because it provides us with a clear target to work towards.

This principle also applies to our spiritual lives; having a goal can be equally important. Every year, the sales of printed Bibles surge as people aspire to read more of the Bible. In the digital realm, numerous Bible-related apps are downloaded. However, while these intentions are admirable, achieving these spiritual goals often requires more than mere desire.

Many individuals purchase a Bible in January and may start reading it, but they often lack a clear and specific goal. Regrettably, many quit by the second or third month or fall behind, ultimately giving up. This can happen due to two key factors: the absence of a clear goal and a lack of discipline.

Discipline requires a well-defined objective, one that holds personal meaning and motivation. For Christians, a common goal is to follow daily reading plans or complete the entire Bible in a year. However, for many years, despite some success stories, numerous individuals have struggled, as documented in studies by various organizations. Biblical literacy levels have hit an all-time low, with the steepest decline in recent years. Why is this happening? While multiple factors are at play, the absence of a clear,recommended goal within a community and a lack of progress tracking are contributing factors.

As leaders, what recommendations do you make to your peers and friends regarding how much they should read? More importantly, what commitments do you personally make as an example of engagement with Scripture?

Christian discipleship is a profound journey, but often diluted messages fail to communicate the depth of Scripture's teachings. Living in Christ demands wholehearted dedication, self-denial, daily cross-bearing,and unwavering commitment (Luke 9:23). Jesus' disciples, when called, left everything to follow Him (Matthew 4:20). They left behind their former lives to follow Him as their Master.

In his pastoral letters, Apostle Paul compared life with Christ to enduring suffering and emphasized the importance of discipline,drawing parallels with athletes, soldiers, and farmers in 2 Timothy. These vocations require determination and discipline for a fulfilling outcome. Paul exemplified this throughout his life, stressing how he fought the good fight and finished the race (2 Timothy 4:7-8).


Setting a Goal

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Establishing a goal for how much Bible reading would benefit yourself and the people you serve is crucial. Do you know if people have plans for how much of the Bible they intend to read throughout the year? Many Christian leaders assume that individuals are engaged with Scripture on their own, but studies suggest otherwise. Recommending a specific goal that provides a target can be transformative for their lives.

The Grace and Mercy Foundation recommends that our colleagues and close partners set a goal to listen to Scripture multiple times each year. Specifically, covering the Old Testament 1-2 times, the New Testament, and Psalms 2-4 times amounts to about 2.5-4.8 hours per week. For starters,a more modest goal could be listening to the Old Testament 0.5-1 times, the New Testament, and Psalms 1-2 times. This should be accomplished through both public and private readings.

While this may sound challenging, it's a bare minimum compared to the time we spend on recreation, hobbies, and sports. Such a goal is imperative to live a life demonstrating our utmost commitment to following Christ. We also need to monitor our progress to stay motivated and on track.


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Bible Tracker

Utilize the Bible Tracker to monitor and measure your progress and share your progress with others.

The Bible Tracker is a feature in the PRS app that keeps tabs on your planned Bible reading and tracks your progress. Similar to how wearable devices track various health and fitness metrics, a Bible tracker helps you monitor your progress toward a specific goal, showing what has been completed and what remains.

Tracking is integral to discipline, drawing inspiration from Paul's metaphors of soldiers, athletes, and farmers. Spiritual growth doesn't happen automatically; it requires determination to achieve specific goals.Tracking closely aligns with your goals, helping you gauge your progress and work towards them effectively.

When tracking your progress, it's also important to share how you're doing with other members of PRS. This isn't about forcing anyone who's struggling or boasting about your progress, but rather a moment of communal life where encouragement and accountability thrive.

Just as athletes train more effectively together and monitor progress as a team, soldiers rely on each other during battles. Similarly, the Christian life is lived in the context of a community while maintaining a personal relationship with God. Establishing and tracking communal goals will help us achieve our spiritual objectives together.


More is not necessarily better, but...

It's crucial to remember that setting goals and tracking faithfulness don't automatically make us better Christians. Christian discipleship is far more comprehensive than simply reading the Bible; it must involve obedience guided by the work of the Spirit. In other words, reading the Bible multiple times may not necessarily lead to a deeper understanding unless there is a posture of reliance on the Spirit's work.

The Holy Scripture, inspired by the Holy God, requires the Holy Spirit's guidance to illuminate our understanding and enable us to live out its teachings. However, the Holy Spirit won't force the scriptural truth into our lives, nor can we download all the scriptural data to our memory if there is no effort or discipline to engage with this revealed truth. The Spirit must guide the entire process, but setting goals and tracking progress are our ways of actively participating in God's work and obeying His call. 

As we commence a new year with enthusiasm for a fresh start,abiding in God's Word and obeying its teachings will be the cornerstone for our lives to flourish. Setting and tracking goals will help us practically abide by and make this a reality in 2024.


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