New Year essentials: Bible reading

In the first of a new series on the ‘essentials’ of faith, Olivia Warburton, BRF’s head of content creation, reflects on why Bible reading and study is still at the very heart of BRF’s Living Faith ministry.

8 January 2023

Bringing the Bible alive

In 1922 the Revd Leslie Mannering identified Bible reading, prayer and communion as essential areas through which to encourage spiritual growth, and these three priorities underpinned the organisation that was to become BRF. Today, the Bible is a thread that runs through all our four areas of work and sits firmly at the heart of our Living Faith ministry.

Living Faith is as old as BRF itself, dating back to those first Bible reading notes, and 100 years later we’re still finding new ways to bring the Bible alive for people of all ages.

‘The Bible is a thread that runs through all our four areas of work.’

‘Lets light into a dusty, shadowy room I thought I knew’

Next month we launch Bible in Ten by David Kitchen. As he developed this project over a number of years, Dave was struck by how many lifelong churchgoers came up to him to confess how little they knew about the Bible beyond the well-known passages.

Described as ‘67 short, sharp snapshots of a story people think they know better than they do’, each of his Bible book summaries takes around ten minutes to read, often less, conveying ‘a good chunk of valuable information at a brisk and enjoyable gallop’. We’re making it available in print, PDF and as an audiobook voiced by a twelve-person team, including Rob Parsons and BRF author Trystan Owain Hughes.  

‘So many lifelong churchgoers confess how little they know about the Bible beyond the well-known passages.’

Beyond words on a page

Audio versions are helpful to so many, and sometimes pictures also speak louder than words and communicate spiritually on a different level.

Many of our readers were moved by the powerful artistic depictions of biblical women in Unveiled, and the same mother–son team will be at work again shortly, creating an illustrated version of the Psalms.

Meanwhile, Amy Scott Robinson’s Lent book Images of Grace looks at the pictures God draws in the Bible to communicate his love and his forgiveness. Sin, for example, is likened to a rubbish heap that never degrades… but which can be hidden thousands of miles away and buried so deep it will never be found again.

The Bible speaks today

A living faith has to be relevant, and we’ve commissioned a range of resources to tackle key, current themes of brokenness and well-being, decision-making, social justice and community engagement, creation care, and how to share our faith. We’re re-releasing Tony Horsfall’s books Working from a Place of Rest and Spiritual Growth in a Time of Change, and Tony is also co-writing a 365-day devotional with a difference – it’s focused entirely on the life of Jesus, whereas ‘through the year’ resources tend to either work their way through the whole Bible or be based around particular themes. Our prayer is that readers really get to know Jesus by the end of it!

Turning to our Bible reading notes, Gordon Giles is now well established as editor of New Daylight and his name has even started appearing on the cover! Upcoming issues are slightly more focused back on Bible books rather than themes but still offer a mix of approaches, bringing in new writers alongside established members of the team, working to increase diversity and continuing to ensure an equal balance of women and men.

‘We’re bringing in new writers alongside established members of the New Daylight team, working to increase diversity and continuing to ensure an equal balance of women and men.’

Greater diversity is also a focus for Rachel Tranter and myself as we commission Guidelines, and we’re bringing on board new young theologians alongside our regular writers. Having noticed an absence of female writers writing on the gospels in previous years, we’re recruiting an all-female team to tackle Luke across three issues from 2024.

Obviously lead times are long and the fruits of this work will not be immediately apparent, but we’re busy sowing the seed. Upcoming themes for Guidelines include trauma, failure, shame, grief, refugees, migration, intercultural Bible reading, disability, and work and rest. There’s also a bioethical toolkit from the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion writer team, who received a number of positive comments for their recent series on creation.

A lamp to our feet and a light for our path

Our vision is to see lives transformed as we read the Bible regularly and apply it confidently, grow in prayer and spiritual disciplines and live out our faith in vibrant, supportive communities.

Ultimately, Living Faith is so much more than producing resources or putting on events; it’s about creating experience and relationship: with other Christians, with the wider community and with God. Like a faithful friend who accompanies and walks alongside, it’s a ministry that’s all about helping people achieve living faith for themselves.

‘Our vision is to see lives transformed as we read the Bible regularly and apply it confidently.

Paying it forward

BRF’s recent Virtual Gifts campaign has seen a fantastic response, with thousands of copies of The Upper Room Bible reading notes, The Christmas Story booklet and a Ukrainian translation of the Parenting for Faith resource Comfort in Uncertain Times distributed to food banks, prisons, hospitals and care homes in the run-up to Christmas.

In 2023 we want to continue to encourage people to consider ‘paying it forward’, helping to make Living Faith resources freely available to those who otherwise would not have access to them by making a gift at

Don’t just read it, see it: watch our new video overview of what Living Faith has to offer.

Olivia Warburton picture

Olivia Warburton is head of content creation and Living Faith ministry lead at BRF.

What is Living Faith?

Living Faith is all about resourcing your spiritual journey. It’s something BRF has been doing ever since the Revd Leslie Mannering first created Bible reading notes for his congregation in 1922.

BRF News January 2023

Catch up with our latest issue of BRF News, full of stories about sharing hope and love.

Holy Habits logo

New year, new habit

On the Holy Habits website earlier this week, Andrew Roberts reflected on the wisdom of practising sabbath.

Pray with us

A prayer of rededication at the start of the new year from Martyn Payne.

Gracious God,
you speak to us through the stories of the Bible
and invite us to hear your voice as we pray.
I rededicate myself this year to daily bible reading and prayer,
as part of the worldwide family of BRF
on behalf of its mission and ministries.
Come close to me as I open your word prayerfully,
and inspire my praying as I reflect on your words thoughtfully,
so that your blessing may rest on BRF,
as it plays its part in growing your kingdom.
For your name’s sake.