Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge (sign up)

This will be the FOURTH year I'll be hosting the Cloud of Witness Reading Challenge. I hope you'll join me! I welcome back former participants! And I hope to see some new participants as well this year!  I'd love to show you that reading "from the Cloud" isn't intimidating and scary. The dates for the challenge are January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.


The title of this reading challenge comes from Hebrews 12:1-2, which reads "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (KJV) If the KJV isn't quite for you,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

For an author to qualify for this reading challenge, they must be among "the cloud of witnesses".... in other words, they must be dead. (They must also be Christian.)

I think it isn't always easy for readers to pick up Christian classics. Perhaps because it isn't always easy to know exactly where to start. Perhaps because people think that they will be difficult to understand--that the language will be too difficult, the style too complicated. Perhaps because people question if a book will still be relevant. 

I believe that there are some AMAZING, GREAT, WONDERFUL, MUST-MUST-MUST reads out there waiting to be discovered.

The following list is NOT comprehensive by any means. It is just a small sampling of authors that count towards the challenge. 


  • Jerry Bridges (1929-2016)
  • Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)
  • Brennan Manning (1934-2013)
  • John Stott (1921-2011)
  • D. James Kennedy (1930-2007)
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
  • Phillip Keller (1920-1997)
  • Bilquis Sheikh (1912-1997)
  • Loraine Boettner (1901-1990)
  • J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988)
  • Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)
  • Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)
  • Catherine Marshall (1914-1983)
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
  • William Barclay (1907-1978)
  • Watchman Nee (1903-1972)
  • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
  • Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)
  • A.W. Pink (1886-1952)
  • Peter Marshall (1902-1949)
  • Charles Sheldon (1857-1946)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
  • G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945)
  • G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
  • B.B. Warfield (1851-1921)
  • Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • A.B. Simpson (1843-1919)
  • Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
  • E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)
  • Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
  • Alexander Whyte (1836-1921)
  • Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
  • J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
  • Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899)
  • Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
  • Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873)
  • J.W. Alexander (1804-1859)
  • John Newton (1725-1807)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
  • George Whitfield (1714-1770)
  • John Wesley (1703-1791)
  • William Law (1686-1761)
  • Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
  • John Owen (1616-1683)
  • John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
  • John Flavel (1627-1691)
  • Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • Brother Lawrence (1605-1691)
  • Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
  • Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
  • Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
  • Saint Augustine (354-430)
So what "counts" for this challenge? Well, the goal is to get you acquainted with different authors. So any reading material will count: no matter the length. It can be an article of a few pages; an individual sermon or a collection of sermons; it can be a book of quotes by that person; it can be a biography or autobiography about the person; you might find full-length books available online, or individual sermons online. And of course it doesn't matter if it's a book-book, e-book, or audiobook.

So how do I find books? Some authors will still be in print. Others won't be. Plenty of qualifying books can be found at Amazon for Kindle or Barnes & Noble for Nooks. Plenty can be read online or downloaded as pdfs. 

A great place to begin might be Free Grace Broadcaster. They've got subject-themed newsletters with articles by various authors. Topics include "The Work of Christ," "Worship," "Heaven," "The Resurrection." I also recommend Christian Classics Ethereal Library

So how many books are required? 

If you're completely new to christian nonfiction (christian living, theology, bible commentaries, bible studies, etc.) then I'd like to challenge you to read ONE or TWO books. If your first attempt is too tough, or proving not-for-you, try again. Don't assume that just because one author isn't working for you, that no author will. 

If christian nonfiction is something you're comfortable reading, I'd like to challenge you to read four to six books for this challenge. 

What I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I will be sharing a quotes post every Thursday. My first year of sharing quotes was 2015. You may share your own quotes in the comments of my weekly posts. Or, if you prefer, you might consider creating weekly, monthly, or quarterly quote posts of your own. Let me know if you do decide to do this! I'd love to keep up with what you're reading! (Or WHO you're reading!!!)

I'd also love to see participants recommend books to one another. If you write a review of a book, please share a link with me. You can leave a comment on this post, or, on any of the weekly quotes posts throughout the year. 

Sign up for the challenge by leaving a comment on the blog. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

4 comments:

thecoolmom said...

I really enjoyed this one last year, so I'm excited about doing it again. Thanks for hosting this one!
http://www.turninghomeward.com/2016-reading-challenges/

Soozie4Him said...

I've joined this challenge before, but I didn't complete it! So I'm going to try again this year. I have quite a few books on my shelves that qualify. I'm doing more reading in general this year, so I'm gonna try it!! :-)

Susan, aka Soozie4Him moot96 AT aol DOT com (I don't use my gmail address)

Becky said...

Great to have you join us again!

Toady said...

Becky, I will be on the lookout for it myself, but just in case, please let me know if you end up hosting this one again. It is so different and would love to include it in the Challenge Directory and I would probably even do this one myself.