Overall it has been a positive experience. We have used the evening services to preach on Scripture that most of us have read in the previous week and that has been good to do. It gives us the chance to encourage each other as we read and spur each other on. Sometimes it has helped us understand things that we haven't picked up by reading on our own. At Easter we asked if the evening congregation wanted to carry on with this pattern and they all said yes. Such unity is wonderful, albeit rarer than it should be. Another benefit of the arrangement is that we have an increased evening congregation, as well as having people reading the Bible regularly if not daily and getting a Bible overview. There are helpful maps and charts in the book too. So it is a positive experience for us, though I would also make the following points.
- Cover to Cover is a bit more specific in the dates for Bible history than I would want to be. So for instance there is a note in Day 3 that says "The flood approx. 2319 BC - probably a Thursday." Okay, so I made up the last bit, but you get the picture.
- I find the section at the end, "For Thought and Contemplation" pretty twee and trite but guess some are helped by them.
- Because they use the "Holman Christian Standard Bible" I was a bit unsure about whether to use this or the church Bible when I preached. I have ended up reverting to the TNIV and this has been fine.
- The strongest criticism I'd have is that they have been a bit too eager with the scissors in dividing up the text sometimes. So you will be in Hosea and (hopefully following the flow of the story) when suddenly here are some chapters from Isaiah, or Micah, or 2 Kings, or 2 Chronicles, or a Psalm. Which just makes for it being harder for people to see the sweep of the book to my mind. Perhaps the most striking example was when we read Amos and I realised on preaching it that the end of the final chapter was not where I expected it to be. A competition ensued and two church members won themselves a Mars bar (we are big on prosperity here) for finding the off-cut last five verses. Turned out they were before the rest of the book! Examples like this make it harder to read and understand the Scriptures, which is not good.
BUT - it's been good to do this. It means we can preach on Amos and give an overview (with handout if I am organised) in about 35 minutes on the whole book. And it means I am reading more of the Bible devotionally than I would normally. So even though I am lagging embarrassingly behind the schedule at the moment I console myself with the knowledge that I am still doing better than normal.