We Talk With the Creator of New Bible Journal and Test One Out
“I wish I read my Bible more.” If you were to ask an average Christian in America what they found lacking in their own spiritual life, many would probably admit to a lack of regular and consistent Bible reading. In fact, various studies illustrate the growing deficiency of biblical literacy and Bible engagement in the lives of Christians and Americans in general.
One LifeWay Research study found that nearly 1 in 5 regular churchgoers say they never read the Bible. According to the study, more than 40 percent of churchgoers read their Bible once or twice a month, and 45 percent of churchgoers read their Bibles more than once per week. A small minority—almost 1 in 5—actually read their Bibles on a daily basis.
Various products have been introduced to counteract growing biblical illiteracy and the lack of Bible reading. For example, Bibles with wide margins and space for note-taking and journaling have exploded on the Christian market as an attempt to help Christians more consistently read and engage with their Bibles. Likewise, Christian ministries and organizations routinely offer Bible reading plans of all shapes and sizes.
Yed Anikpo is an entrepreneur who has devoted his life to creating products that help fellow Christians deeply engage with God’s Word.
In February, Anikpo launched a Kickstarter campaign for his SCRIBE Journal—a Bible reading journal influenced by the science that was used to develop the widely popular Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change, Inc. He is hopeful that the SCRIBE journal and the science backing it will be a powerful solution to the lack of Bible reading among U.S. Christians.
In the following interview, conducted via phone, Anikpo discusses his work and why he believes the SCRIBE journal could make an impact in Bible literacy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your previous work, and what sparked the idea for the SCRIBE journal.
I was saved later in life at 26 years old, and this is a big part of why I’m doing what I’m doing. In light of God’s amazing grace, my life’s purpose has been to create products to edify the church. I started by creating Christian apps—commentaries, a prayer app, and other work in the app world.
As an entrepreneur and as a parent with small kids, I was always looking to find better ways to be more productive with my time. I came across a number of journals—like the Five Minute Journal and the Productivity Planner [by Intelligent Change]. I really liked those products. So, I began reading lots of literature about what went into these products that explained the science behind them. This got me into the psychological aspects of the science—how these products impact our behavior and habits.
I came across the work of Peter Gollwitzer [professor of Psychology at New York University] on if-then planning, and this became the main thesis behind the SCRIBE journal. Basically, if-then planning says that people are more likely to do what they’ve set out to do if they write out where and when they’re going to do it beforehand. It’s just how our brain works. If X, then Y. Over 100 studies have shown that people are more likely to complete their goals with if-then planning—even doubling or tripling the chances.
This theory is great for work, but what is the most important thing for anyone? Spending time with the Lord—our quiet times. Why not apply this science to the most important goal anyone should have? I created this journal by putting these simple methods (together) and applying them to communion with God with our quiet times. Science is a gift from God—so how can we leverage that?
What makes the SCRIBE journal different from similar products on the market?
Every single part of the journal is backed by data that proves that this works. If-then planning helps people reach their goals by setting a reward. It makes you ask the question, Why is it that I want to be reading X, Y, and Z? The journal fosters gratitude, and science proves that there are amazing benefits to gratitude, and Scripture calls us to it as well.
SCRIBE is a three-month journal, and in the journal there are Bible memory verses. All of the scriptures you memorize are picked because they tell you who you are in Christ. This has benefits even for interpersonal relationships. When you repeat values dear to you, problems will appear to be smaller because you are priming your brain with who you are in Christ. It won’t make your problems smaller, but you will grow in Christ so that the problems will seem to shrink.
Do you plan to take this product to retail?
I’d love to take it wherever the Lord will open. Initially, I am planning to sell it through an e-commerce store and Amazon. Eventually, I’d like to expand to retail stores. I’m definitely open to Christian bookstores, publishers, and bulk orders.
Many studies show how Americans love to own Bibles but not read them. I’d love to hear your specific thoughts on this problem.
Absolutely. Quiet times are times we have to take out our Bible and think about it. Reading is merely scratching the surface. You need to meditate on the Word—thinking deeply about what you’re reading. What does it mean? How does it apply? My goal is to help Christians combat illiteracy. I believe that the reason why the world seems to be winning is because Christians are not being the light they are supposed to be. The only way to be light is to be saturated with Scripture. This is the only way to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world and bear witness to Him.
Anything else you would like to share?
I’d like to end by sharing my favorite verse: Romans 3:20-24. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Using The SCRIBE Journal (Review)
I was sent a sample of the SCRIBE Journal and had the opportunity to test it out in my own devotional life for about two weeks.
Users of this journal will find that it is made of some of the highest quality materials. Each page has a distinctive weight and quality to it reminiscent of a Moleskine notebook that makes it ideal for writing in. The cover is resistant to most common scratches and scrapes, and it feels rugged enough to be tossed around in a backpack or a purse without damage. The journal’s case is also custom designed so the journal nests snugly within it.
Several of the journal’s features stand out when it comes to functionality. It has the ability to lie flat so the user can see and write on both pages for a given devotional day at a time. Likewise, the journal includes a built-in bookmark so the user doesn’t lose his/her spot. Just like a Moleskine, the SCRIBE Journal has a built-in strap that keeps the book closed. Although the 8.25″ x 5.5″ journal has 269 pages (plus or minus a few filler pages at the end), it does not feel bulky or overly burdensome to tote around.
It is clear that a great deal of thought and research went into even the finest minutiae of the journal. Typography and graphics found throughout the journal are crisp and clean for readability purposes, and it is a marvel to see how economically page space is used for all of its features without making it look crammed or bloated. Yet, some users may find the monochrome color scheme within the journal to be a little boring. For example, in two portions of the journal, there are full-page and half-page quotations from Thomas Watson and Charles Spurgeon that could use a splash of color or even a differentiated set of shades of black and white. Perhaps in a future edition, it may even be helpful to implement more of these sorts of illustrations throughout the journal to help break up a seemingly endless flow of devotional days.
Each devotional day of the journal begins with an inspirational quote, either from the Bible or various Christians. Then, the user is given seven sections across two pages to write down the Scripture passage they are studying for the day, any Observation and Interpretation from the passage, its Application in the user’s life, a personal resolution for the day, a Prayer in response to the passage, a Memory Verse to write out word-for-word, and a Gratitude section. At the end of each day is an opportunity for the user to set an IF-THEN scenario to plan for the next day. Using Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen’s research, the user is able to set the day before what passage they plan on reading, when they plan on reading it, a cue or trigger (e.g. “If I eat breakfast…”) and a reward for completing the goal (e.g. “I’ll eat a chocolate bar.”).
I applaud the thought that went into this journal to foster a whole-orbed sort of devotional life. As I tested the journal, it was a helpful reminder for me to not only read my Bible on a daily basis, but to also observe, interpret, apply, and act on the scriptures. I appreciated the encouragement to write out prayers in response to the Word as well as Bible memorization of essential verses. All things considered, the SCRIBE Journal is a very organized and structured tool to manage, plan, and implement daily devotions.
However, I am rather hesitant about any heightened optimism that this product will ensure that personal devotional goals will be met. While I appreciate Gollwitzer and Oettingen’s research and believe the if-then methods are distinctly helpful tools, a great deal of personal resolution, effort, prayerfulness, accountability, and perseverance is still required for a user to keep on schedule with his/her devotional life. I think Anikpo has recognized this. In the introduction of the journal, he recommends accountability partners and other methods to help keep users on the path to their goals. Potential users of the SCRIBE Journal should be realistic—this is a high-quality and organized tool, but it will not be an instant cure-all to meet all of your devotional goals.
You can find references for the science behind the SCRIBE journal here: https://scribe-references.kickoffpages.com/. The Kickstarter campaign ended March 18 with 702 backers who pledged $29,311.