Lake Norman: Discipline produces disciples
    February 15 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    The opening line from an article featured last year in Christianity Today read, “Americans love their Bibles. So much so that they keep them in pristine, unopened condition.”

    Perhaps harsh, yet according to research, perhaps quite true. The article mentioned a Time magazine cover story reporting that only half of adults in the United States can name one of the four Gospels and fewer than half can identify Genesis as the first book in the Bible.

    In a Barna research study, American Christians were asked to rate their spiritual maturity based on activities such as worship, service and evangelism. “Christians offered the harshest evaluation of their Bible knowledge, with 25 percent calling themselves not too mature or not at all mature,” noted Christianity Today. “Even weekly churchgoers who know the names and places struggle to put it all together and understand the Bible as a single story of redemption.”

    The issue at hand is more than biblical illiteracy: it’s a lack of discipleship. Believers who have not been discipled may not understand the necessity of studying God’s Word and applying the truths of scripture to their lives.

    Pastor Bobby Blanton and the staff of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville recently decided it was time to get serious about really studying the Bible. Instead of just encouraging all the church members to read through the Bible, the staff made this a collective focus for the entire congregation for an entire year.  

    The Voyage
    Last year members of Lake Norman were challenged to participate in The Voyage, a one-year read through the Bible in chronological order. Every member who committed to taking on the challenge received a one-year chronological Bible and journal. Lay leaders in the church were enlisted to write a curriculum to run parallel to the daily Bible readings. This curriculum was used in all the adult Sunday School classes for the entire year.

    The idea to structure this process of reading through the Bible in the format that came to be known as The Voyage came from associate pastor Landon Horton.

    “People were looking for an opportunity to read through the Bible and looking for the accountability they would get from the church and their Sunday School class as they did that together,” Blanton said.

    Blanton used the Wednesday evening services as a time to work through with the congregation key issues or themes from that week’s reading. In addition, his sermons last year focused on scripture from the weekly reading.

    This required Blanton to stay a good two months ahead of the congregation in his reading. “It was a daily discipline,” he said. “I was able to work through things I knew the congregation would be going through. This brought a greater accountability to me as well.”

    Blanton first introduced the idea to his staff and then to Sunday School leaders. In early 2009, writers were enlisted to develop the curriculum. At the end of 2009, The Voyage was presented to the congregation and members were asked to consider participating.   

    “We wanted them to make the connection between what is in the scriptures and how it impacts their personal life,” Blanton said. “The Word of God is very relevant to what we do every single day. No matter what profession you’re in, what your walk with the Lord is, the Word of God can address your needs.”  

    Acts 1:8
    This year Lake Norman is “building on the foundation” established in 2010. Last year this time Blanton and his staff were already looking ahead as to how they would continue with The Voyage.

    While the 2010 Bible reading plan maintained an intense pace, this year’s approach will move more slowly, allowing more time for the texts. Following a similar format, the congregation is reading through three books of the Bible this year: Mark, Acts and Revelation. 

    The congregation is starting with Mark and reading one chapter in Mark each day of the week for an entire week. When Mark concludes at the end of April they will begin with Acts.

    Blanton said these books were chosen because the 2011 voyage is a “missions-focused voyage” that will help the church learn from scripture how and why they need to step up their intensity and focus on missions. The Voyage is part of the church’s 10-year, Acts 1:8 strategy for discipleship. Blanton hopes the church will see through their Bible reading this year that everything they read “relates to our going out and being faithful to take the gospel to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and uttermost ends of the earth.”

    Other churches are now using Lake Norman’s curriculum. “God took this idea and helped to enrich not just the lives of people around Lake Norman, but throughout parts of the world,” Blanton said.

    For more information about The Voyage visit or e-mail

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    Leaders want to make disciples, transform lives

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    2/15/2011 4:23:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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