There is so much information coming at us these days. We’re not just wired for sound anymore, we’re wired(-less) for info, for data, for SPAM, for “late-breaking news about Anna Nicole”, for…what?! So it’s no wonder that many churches have opted for a “less filling, tastes great” approach to the public reading of Scripture. But in an effort to improve communication and the understanding of that communication, we’ve unwittingly removed the very Word that needs to be spoken, heard, explained, pondered. By thinking and modeling that “less of the Bible, is actually more” we also run the risk of distorting what the Bible actually is, “the rehearsal of the powerful deeds of God the creator and rescuer.” What we’re left with is merely another self-help message, another advertisement, another miracle pill…just another voice calling for our attention in the cacophony of life.
So it falls to me every week to help our congregation see that the Bible is not just another voice, but it is THE Voice, the voice of the Living God. In fact, one of our Key Values of Gathered Worship is that our meetings should be “Bible-Saturated.” I haven’t figured this out all that much yet, but I do know giving a time and place for a larger portion of Scripture to be read is essential.
Periodically, I take about 2-3 minutes to explain different parts of our gatherings: singing, prayer, Scripture readings, affirmation of the gospel, Lord’s Supper, etc. This has been very effective. When it comes to our public reading of Scripture, I often will highlight the nature of Scripture, not just the content of the passage.
For example, this past week I read 1 Cor. 10:1-13 and said something along the lines of “Every day you and I are bombarded with messages and information that we find annoying at best and offensive at worst. At least half our snail mail we immediately recycle, and let’s not even talk about email SPAM!! But what we’re about to read together is entirely different from any other message you’ll ever read or come across. These words, penned by the apostle Paul, are not merely his words to his friends in the city of Corinth. They are God’s Words. So listen now, let us listen together, to our loving Creator and Redeemer.”
No doubt, it could be said better, but I’ve found it better to actually get on with it than to wait for the perfect way to say something. The point is not that the introduction of the Scripture reading change people, but that it breaks down barriers and heightens anticipation for the very Living Word that can and will change men, women, and children’s hearts!