Word Live is such an incredible free online resource to so many people and we love how far and wide the content reaches
You may be aware that from January 2024 there will be a change in the content that makes up each daily Word Live page. If you’d like to find out more about the journey we’ve been on that has caused us to arrive at this decision, you can read about it below...
In April 2021, after a long journey of options, trials and discussions, the Scripture Union Leadership Team signed off on the decision that, from 2024, Daily Bread and Encounter with God would each have their own syllabus.
Why was this significant? In particular, because of the impact it would have on Word Live.
When WordLive began in 2008, Scripture Union was excited to be able to share Bible notes from its two Bible reading guides Daily Bread and Encounter with God. Since then, we have been thrilled that such a vibrant online community has grown up around WordLive, staying with us through many updates and changes.
But to include both sets of notes has meant that the publications have needed to follow the same syllabus.
Move one thing and the whole lot shifts!
Creating a syllabus is a massive amount of work, to ensure a good balance between Old and New Testaments (in each quarter and in each year), juggling around the various church festivals and covering every book in the Bible over a set number of years. One of our syllabus creators says that it is like a game of Jenga – move one thing and the whole lot shifts!
It takes well over two years to go from initial syllabus drafts, to final, agreed, syllabus, to commissioning of writers, editing of notes, the various stages of producing a publication, printing it, getting it into the warehouse and out again to readers. In many ways, just having one syllabus makes things simpler for us, but it doesn’t necessarily suit our readers, and for the last 15 years we have struggled with this.
Scripture Union gets many comments from its readers, via post, email and telephone, on the Word Live facebook page and sometimes from surveys. Such a group of people is, of course, made up of unique individuals, created by God with their own individual thoughts and perspectives so, in one sense, there are as many views as there are comments. But there are definite themes.
In general, we find that Daily Bread readers like to change which Bible book they are reading every one or two weeks, and are quite positive about not reading every chapter and verse of every book, in order to be able to have a greater variety of readings. On the other hand, Encounter with God readers like to stay with whatever book they are reading for a longer period of time and cover every verse.
Of course, not everyone who reads either Daily Bread or Encounter with God has those views, but there is a clear majority.
Without considering Word Live, creating a different syllabus for each publication has always been the obvious way to go. But we have, until now, tried to find ways of not doing that.
Each time we are creating a new syllabus, there are discussions across a range of people around how best to please the majority of readers. It isn’t easy. Whichever direction the syllabus moves in, particularly in terms of how long we spend in an individual book and which chapters we include, those who would prefer a different approach are unhappy.
The syllabus for the last few years, in response to views and suggestions, has leant more towards the Encounter preferences, and many readers have commented about the amount of time spent in one go in books like Job, Jeremiah and Revelation. Some have enjoyed that level of focus while others have not.
The journey continues...
After much discussion, we decided that the best compromise (and every option is a compromise!) is to have a different syllabus for each of our Bible reading guides, relating much more closely to the specific needs of the readerships and highlighting even further the distinctives of the two publications.
We all knew that the biggest negative of this decision would be the effect on Word Live. Both individually and as a staff team we use Word Live daily, and value the two different approaches, and the additional thoughts and comments from the Word Live community. But we also needed to take into account the wishes of the thousands of people worldwide who buy our Bible reading notes and want to be able to have the different approaches to Bible reading.
From January 2024 we’ll just be adding Daily Bread to Word Live (Prepare, Explore and Respond) as we believe this will best meet the needs of the widest range of people.
These decisions are part of a journey that continues. Bible engagement is core to Scripture Union and, as we travel into God’s Word together, we will carry on listening.
Want to know more?
With thoughtful reflections, Word Live can become part of your everyday journey with God, and help you understand more about Scripture Union’s mission to reach children and young people who have yet to hear the gospel.
If you'd like to discover more about the range of Bible reading guides designed to support you in your day-to-day walk with God click here.
- Bible engagement