40 Day New Testament Reading Challenge: How to Conquer It!

Ben UllmanBlog

Ben Ullman will be our Site Director of Program & Administration at Junior Camp this summer. He’s majoring in Psychology at Queen’s University and is known around Mini-Yo-We for having meaningful conversations with all of the staff and giving excellent book and podcast recommendations. He is also a great musician! We asked him to post about the 40-Day New Testament Reading Challenge, which members of our summer staff team and recent alumni were invited to do together.

What is the 40-Day Plan?

The number forty is referenced more than a few times in the Bible—Jesus faces temptation in the wilderness for forty days (Matthew 4:2) and Goliath taunts the Israelites for forty days before David defeats him (1 Samuel 17:16)—just to name two instances! Therefore, it seems fitting to include “challenge” in the title of this reading plan. Simply put, through forty days or eight weeks, staff at Mini-Yo-We are making their best efforts to finish the entirety of the New Testament. Alongside the daily readings, three video calls are offered at various times throughout the week, to engage in rich discussions about what you have been learning!

Isn’t that a lot of reading? Do you truly absorb what you read?

Outstanding question, thanks for asking! After interviewing my dear friend Connor “Revelstoke” Montgomery (one of the Boys Camp Site Directors for 2024), he mentioned that reading the Bible in such large quantities “brings you back to the simple truth of the gospel”. This idea is compelling since even if we do not remember the precise details from our reading, we are reminded of how the Bible ultimately points us to Christ. Every story, lesson, or healing encourages us to focus on God’s love for us, as demonstrated through his sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

What if you fall behind on the readings?

To be completely candid, there was one week early on when I was pretty behind (a great deal behind) on the readings. Perhaps it’s bound to happen to everyone at some point, considering it’s eight chapters a day! Before I could feel discouraged, Jamie “Volcom” Ting (last summer’s Hilltop section head at Boys Camp) sent a lovely message to our group chat, pointing us back to our relationship with God and how we deserve to be kind to ourselves for being behind. Talk about the BEST community to do a reading challenge with!

Are there any more advantages to reading the Bible this quickly?

Not only would I proclaim yes, but staff member Avery “Cicada” McFarlane (one of our LIT Small Group Leaders) would shout yes from the rooftops. Through an exchange of text messages, she noted that “it was easier to notice the differences in how each author writes…Acts being informational and contextual while Luke is inspiring”. Personally, I resonate with Avery’s statement and can see that every author brings their own background or passions, which are so beautifully displayed in the texts.

What are some takeaways from doing this challenge?

Finally, one huge takeaway from my experience has been the importance of making a habit out of being in the Bible for 30 minutes a day. Most mornings, I make a cup of coffee, put on some worship music, and then dive into the text. Another beneficial lesson I gathered was to journal after engaging in the Bible to absorb practical takeaways. Three questions I always use are:

  1. What is God saying?
  2. What does this reveal about God’s glory?
  3. What am I going to do about it?

Thanks so much for reading—I will see you this summer at Camp Mini-Yo-We!

Please pray for the young leaders on our summer staff team as they grow in their faith surrounded by a supportive community through opportunities like the 40-Day Challenge.