LAKE GEORGE — Being a Christian requires more than celebrating Christmas and attending church on Christmas Eve. As a pastor, Darren Barkman finds it odd that many people who call themselves Christians have never read the Bible.
“To really be able to call yourself one, there are regulations, there are policies and procedures that go along with it,” he said. “And that’s all in the Bible, so it’s important to know it.”
The Scriptures are a mirror through which Christians should see themselves, said Barkman, the acting pastor at Bay Road Church in Lake George.
Barkman is taking his congregation on a Bible-reading adventure starting Monday with the Psalm 119 Project. The church is going to read the entire Bible in the year 2018.
Each member will follow the same daily Scripture reading plan in an effort to cultivate spiritual growth as well as a deepening knowledge in the teachings of the Bible.
“Not reading the Bible doesn’t make you not a Christian, obviously,” Barkman said. “But it’s deepening what you really believe and having the foundation for what you believe and knowing why you believe it, which is really important.”
The Civil War-era church has obtained use of a reading program from www.bibleclassmaterials.com, which publishes a yearly schedule that breaks the Bible into sections featuring Old Testament, New Testament and Psalms readings to be done five days a week. All participants will be reading the same passages each week.
The 10 a.m. Sunday sermon will delve deeper into the meanings of the reading done during the week.
“So there’s the opportunity by reading it, praying through it and studying it on your own to get some ideas and what you think is going on,” Barkman said, “and then we have a chance on Sundays to talk about it and to look at it.”
The congregation is enthusiastic about taking on this monumental task, said Denise LaRose, the clerk of session. Four generations of her family have attended Bay Road Church.
“Everybody is really excited about it,” said LaRose, who welcomes the opportunity to go deeper into her faith.
There is a PDF file of the curriculum available online, and the Sunday service is broadcast on Facebook Live, so the snowbirds can keep up with the project from Florida as well.
Barkman tends to be drawn to the Book of Ephesians, he said, particularly the first few verses of Ephesians 2, which talks about being dead in our transgressions and sins but remaining alive in Christ.
“The whole Book of Ephesians was written to a culture a lot like ours,” Barkman said. “A lot of different religions, lots of people who were anti-religion. There was a lot of resistance to the Christian faith, culturally just very hostile.”
Paul’s letters tell the people how to live, how to survive and thrive in a culture hostile to Christians.
“A lot of the New Testament was written to a church in a culture that was very resistant to what Jesus taught and to the church as it was growing,” Barkman said. “There’s nothing new 2,000 years later. We find ourselves in the same place, so it’s important for the church to listen to what the writers of the Scriptures were saying then.”