Bryan Schneider

Leaving a Church Well

It is possible, in certain circumstances, to depart from a congregation in a loving way. Then there are ways one can depart from a congregation which leaves a wake of pain and suffering behind. One way honors the Lord and the other harms His people.

Today’s article is going to be difficult and could be painful for some. It may be controversial. How does one leave their local congregation? How does a Christian leave a congregation of people they love?
There are a myriad of reasons for a person to leave a congregation. Sometimes these reasons are good and sometimes these reasons are poor. The reality of the American church is that religion has been democratized. Members of a congregation may vote with their feet. Members may walk out and go to another church down the road or on the other side of town. Elders may attempt to shepherd well and encourage members to stay. However, there seems to be times in which the Lord’s people will do as they please.
What this article will not do is evaluate the plethora of reasons why one would leave their home church. This article is not about leaving a church in which there are moral failings or doctrinal errors. There are times in which, for the glory of God and care for one’s family, immediate departure should occur. That is not who this article is written for. Rather, this article is written for those who are considering a transfer to another congregation for non moral reasons.
The reader will find six principles to implement if you feel you must leave your present congregation.
There are ways in which one can leave the congregation well. It is possible, in certain circumstances, to depart from a congregation in a loving way. Then there are ways one can depart from a congregation which leaves a wake of pain and suffering behind. One way honors the Lord and the other harms His people.
Principle No. 1—Be clear why you are considering to leave.
For many who leave their home congregations the process starts as a subjective feeling that something is not right or is not working. It is important not to trust one’s feelings. The heart is deceitfully wicked and should not be trusted. Christians ought to question our feelings. We ought to stop and ask ourselves, “Why am I feeling this way.”
Too frequently Christians have vague ideas about why they feel as if they no longer belong in a congregation. Has there been a shift in the philosophy of ministry within the congregation? Have circumstances in your life changed in such a way that make travel an undue burden? Has there been a demographic change in the congregation that has left your family isolated? Have there been doctrinal shifts either in yourself or in the congregation? Has there been a lack of discipleship or a stagnation of spiritual growth?
Far too often many members have vague notions of why they feel they ought to leave. In the Reformed Presbyterian Church membership is formal and covenantal. Members make promises to God, the elders, and the congregation. The affirmations and promises which a member answers forms a binding relationship that ought to be taken with solemnity and sobriety. To break this relationship on opaque feelings is disingenuous and unloving.
You feeling that something is off may not be entirely incorrect. There may be things that need to change. There may be improvements that could occur in the local congregation. There may be ministries that need to be created to shepherd and disciple. There may be a reality to time, finances, family growth, job changes, and etc. that have caused a shift in one’s ability to continue to be a growing and active participant in their local congregation. Again, there are a myriad of practical and even biblical reasons why one may need to transfer their membership. Knowing exactly why you are considering a change is of the upmost importance. Have a concrete why.
Once you have your concrete why go and search the scriptures. Search out the Lord’s Word to see if there is Biblical warrant for your reasons. There may not be one proof text for your concern. However, you may search the Scriptures and find passages or themes that speak toward your concern. Maybe your why is that there has not been enough emphasis on evangelism. Maybe your why is that the congregation is growing but certain groups of people are being overlooked in discipleship and fellowship. Your why may be that there is plenty of doctrinal fidelity but there is a real lack of opportunity to fellowship and be in communion with other members. It could be that you have noticed the Scriptures time and again speaking of a care for the poor and orphans but you have not noticed that same emphasis in your present congregation.
Being crystal clear about why you are considering a change will help you in principle number two.
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2023 Bible Reading Plans

There are only 52 Lord’s Day a year to preach, and in our historic congregation at Sharon Reformed Presbyterian Church, the longstanding practice is lectio continua. Preaching book by book, chapter by chapter, pericope by pericope gives God’s people stability. However, once a year this pattern changes… on January 1st, 2023. God’s people will be pointed to the Bible Reading Plans we’ve curated and developed for them.

The first Lord’s Day of each year we preach on the primacy of God’s word and the blessings of reading the Scriptures. That will happen again on January 1st, 2023. God’s people will be pointed to the Bible Reading Plans we’ve curated and developed for them.
Some plans will challenge and stretch Christians to spend vast amounts of time in God’s word. Other plans will fit into the busy packed schedule of work and child rearing.
Get the Bible reading plan that fits your life and schedule.
“I will meditate on Your precepts,And contemplate Your ways.I will delight myself in Your statues;I will not forget Your word.”
Some Advice On Bible Reading Plans
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’re on this page it means you want to challenge yourself this year. That’s great! But, maybe you didn’t finish your plans in previous years. That’s okay. The goal is not to check boxes off our to-do list but to bury God’s word in our hearts. Don’t get discouraged. Every time we open God’s word He is using it – He will not allow His word to return void.
So here’s some tips for accomplishing your 2023 Bible Reading Plan:

Pick a realistic plan
Pick a plan that fits you – take into account your personality, time, and life circumstances
Devote a time each day to when and where you’ll read – seriously you might need to put it on your calendar
Summarize what you’ve just read
Pick an accountability partner who can encourage you (and you them!)

Below you’ll find a compiled list of 2023 Bible Reading Plans. They are not listed in any specific order, but we pray you’ll find this list helpful as you search for this year’s plan.
May God bless you this year as you read and meditate upon His word!
List of 2023 Bible Reading Plans
Morning & Evening Bible Reading Plan
I LOVE this Bible Reading plan. In fact this is the plan I used my first time going through the Bible. You read a larger chunk of the Old Testament in the Mornings and a smaller portion in the Evenings. Breaking up the readings makes the plan accomplishable. You start your day in God’s redemptive plans in the past and end your day with Jesus. I highly recommend this plan.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
5 Day Bible Reading Plan
“The Five Day Bible Reading Schedule’s secret is that you only have to read five times a week, not every day. This allows time for catching up, taking a day off, read other parts of the Bible to prepare for Bible class, etc.  Read the entire Bible or just the New Testament – it’s your choice and it is easier than ever to accomplish!”
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
Professor Grant Horner’s Reading Plan
This plan is unlike any other. If you really want to read broadly and get contextualization then this is your plan! It it not for the faint hearted but those who want to be deeply watered. Each day consists of 10 chapters in various genres of the Bible. Every year you’ll read through all of the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and Prophetic books about 1 1⁄2 times!
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
52 week Bible Reading plan
This plan will take you through a different genre of the Bible each day. Sunday – Epistle, Monday – Law, Tuesday – History, Wednesday – Psalms, Thursday – Poetry, Friday – Prophecy, Saturday – Gospels. This plan is really helpful if you have gotten bogged down before by having to read through books like Numbers or Isaiah in large chunks before. The plans strength is that it will give you something fresh to read each day of the week. However, that is also one of the weaknesses. By reading something a week ago you might not make connections with previous chapters in context as easily.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
5x5x5 New Testament Bible Reading Plan
This plan comes from the Navigators with this helpful instruction:
5 minutes a day | If you’re not currently reading the Bible, start with 5 minutes a day. This reading plan will take you through all 260 chapters of the New Testament, one chapter per day. The gospels are read throughout the year to keep the story of Jesus fresh all year.
5 days a week | Determine a time and location to spend 5 minutes a day for 5 days a week. It is best to have a consistent time and a quiet place where you can regularly meet with the Lord.
5 ways to dig deeper | We must pause in our reading to dig into the Bible. Below are 5 different ways to dig deeper each day. These exercises will encourage meditation. We recommend trying a single idea for a week to find what works best for you. Remember to keep a pen and paper ready to capture God’s insights.
Underline or highlight key words or phrases in the Bible passage. Use a pen or highlighter to mark new discoveries from the text. Periodically review your markings to see what God is teaching you.Put it into your own words. Read the passage or verse slowly, then rewrite each phrase or sentence using your own words.Ask and answer some questions. Questions unlock new discoveries and meanings. Ask questions about the passage using these words: who, what, why, when, where, or how. Jot down some thoughts on how you would answer these questions.Capture the big idea. God’s Word communicates big ideas. Periodically ask, What’s the big idea in this sentence, paragraph, or chapter?Personalize the meaning. When God speaks to us through the Scriptures, we must respond. A helpful habit is personalizing the Bible through application. Ask: How could my life be different today as I respond to what I’m reading?
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: New Testament | Download the PDF
Weekday Bible Reading Plan
This is a wonderful plan that gives you flexibility on the weekends. Monday through Friday you’ll read portions of the Scriptures. Yet, the plan gives you flexibility to take the weekends off or use them to catch up.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
Bible Reading Chart
Don’t want to be tied down to a certain number of chapters per day? This is a helpful chart to check off the list as you go.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Maybe you’ve read through the Bible before and have wondered when the Psalms would have been written. Or wished that you knew how Hezekiah & Isaiah went together. How did the minor prophets fit into the story of the Bible. This is a really helpful Bible reading plan for those who are curious. Just a warning this plan has many who have LOVED it and many who have not.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
Discipleship Bible Reading Plan
A little disclaimer – I love this plan. The Navigators have done a wonderful job of creating a plan that balances keeping context without getting too bogged down in one genre. That does mean you’ll be reading through large chunks of the Prophets and the Psalmist. It takes disciple to get through this one but many have found it very helpful.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
3 Year Bible Reading Plan
Take your time – soak it up. Not one to rush through your reading. Do you hit the Psalms and want to just slow down? This a very helpful plan to get you through the Bible in 3 years by reading 1 chapter each day. Here’s what the creators say about it:
This plan will take you completely through the Bible, reading every word. Rather than taking only a year for this project, which requires 3 chapters to read every day. That can be too much, unrealistic, and discouraging for some. In this plan you get to read one chapter a day. (Short chapters have been combined, so sometimes you’ll read two.)
Duration: 3 Years — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
2 Years through the Bible
Think you can go quicker than 3 years? Great! Here’s a great plan for 2 years. It also has days built in to catch up which can be very helpful.
Duration: 2 Years — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
McCheyne’s plan is a classic for a reason. If you would like to include your entire family in your Bible reading this is a very helpful resource. You can read part by yourself in your devotions and then in the morning and evening read other portions with your family. It is amazing how often this plan has readings that correspond to one another.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
Straight Through the Bible Plan
This is a really easy philosophy. Take up the book and read. Start at Genesis and end at Revelation. Cover to cover in 1 year.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Whole Bible | Download the PDF
1 Year Through the Old Testament
If you would like to challenge yourself to read the Old Testament in 1 year you’ll find this helpful. This plan, like most Old Testament in a year plans, can be heavy on some days a light on others. Just budget you time since somedays you will have more reading than on other days.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: Old Testament | Download the PDF
1 Year Though the New Testament
If you’re new to the faith or you just want to slow down and chew over the words of the New Testament this will be helpful. You’ll read 1 chapter a day for 5 days of the week starting at Matthew and ending with Revelation.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: New Testament | Download the PDF
Deep Dive Bible Plans
These Readings through smaller parts of the Bible are great for those with limited time but want to read deeply
Old Testament Bible Reading Plans
The Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy)
This plan will take you through the foundation of Biblical understanding. The Law, Books of Moses, or Pentateuch are essential to understanding the rest of the Bible.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 5 Books | Download the PDF
Historical Books (Joshua to Esther)
Spend the year reading about God’s covenant faithfulness, the highs and the lows of Israelite devotion, and see the redemptive sweep of Biblical history.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 12 Books of Biblical History | Download the PDF
Poetry & Wisdom (Job to Song of Solomon)
The Poetry of the Scriptures shed light on the profound depth of human emotion in light of God and His promises. The Wisdom literature give practical principles for godly living the come from a heart that loves the Lord.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 5 Books of Poetry & Wisdom | Download the PDF
All The Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi)
Delve deep into the prophetic writings of the Scriptures. Hear God’s words to His people and to the nations as He spoke through His prophets.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 17 Books of Prophecy | Download the PDF
Major Prophets (Isaiah to Daniel)
Major & Minor prophets is not means to be a qualitative distinction but quantitative. It is not that the major prophets are better or more important but that their writings are generally longer. That said, enjoy a year exploring the depths of the prophets. See how the Christ is prophesied so clearly in Isaiah. Soak in the gospel through the prophet Jeremiah. And stand in wonder of the visions in Ezekiel.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 5 Book of Prophecy | Download the PDF
Minor Prophets (Hosea to Malachi)
This is a wonderful Bible reading plan full of variety and Messianic hope. Hear of God’s covenant love in Hosea. See God send the gospel to the gentiles in Jonah. And hear the voice proclaiming His covenant faithfulness in Malachi.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 12 Books of Prophecy| Download the PDF
New Testament Bible Reading Plans
Read the Gospels (Matthew to John)
Spend time this year looking at who Jesus is, what He has done, and what hope there is for the world today.
We did the plan live throughout 2020! Check it out by clicking the link DEVOTIONS above.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 4 Books | Download the PDF
Gospels & Revelation (Matthew to John + Revelation)
Learn about the Alpha and the Omega. During this year you’ll see the promises of the Old Testament come to fulfillment in Jesus. You will also be blessed to see the Son of Man sitting on His throne being worshiped by the heavenly hosts.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 5 Books | Download the PDF
Jesus & Paul (Matthew – Hebrews)
This Bible reading plan will take you through all the gospels. You will learn of the Christ and His eternal kingdom. Then you will see how that gospel spread to the furthest reaches of the known world. Your heart will also be challenged and blessed as you study God’s instruction to the Churches in Christ.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 19 Books | Download the PDF
Paul’s Letters (Romans to Hebrews)
Paul’s letters are foundational to the Christian church. Working through these books will give you the foundation of Jesus in your faith and point you to Jesus as the cornerstone of the church. Paul’s letters to the church and pastors are absolutely necessary to understanding God’s will for your life.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 13 Books | Download the PDF
Hebrews to Revelation
Your soul is going to be enriched as you read about Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith. In Hebrews see how the whole Old Testament points toward and is fulfilled in Jesus. You’ll receive instruction from the book of James for your life. John will point you to Jesus time and again. Revelation will show you Christ in His splendor.
Duration: 1 Year — Amount: 9 Books | Download PDF
Sharon Reformed Presbyterian Church is located in SE Iowa within driving distance from Burlington, Columbus Junction, Mediapolis, Middletown, Morning Sun, Mt. Pleasant, and Winfield.
We did not create many of these plans. Most of the Bible Reading Plans have their creators’ information in the plan. Creators own all intellectual copyrights to their works. In compiling this list of Bible Reading Plans Sharon Reformed Presbyterian Church is not giving approval to any ministry, church, or organization but merely listing resources which they have provided online for use.
This list was assembled by Bryan Schneider, pastor of  Sharon Reformed Presbyterian Church in Morning Sun, Iowa.
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