I recently spoke at a church that you would describe as “liturgical.” They were a fantastic group of people and I had a terrific time. Since they are a larger church – three services over two days – there were several different “Scripture readers” throughout the weekend.
As you might expect, some did a fantastic job of bringing the Word to life. Others…well…not so much.
This is such a common experience. It is especially challenging when you have different people reading Scripture every week. It can be hit-or-miss as to whether the reading of God’s Word is engaging – or sleep-inducing.
Today, I thought I’d share a few tips that will make a huge difference.
1. Set the expectation that – in your church – the reading of Scripture is awesome.
I’m not just talking about pretty good. I’m talking awesome! What is the tone that gets set right before the reader walks up to the microphone? Are people expecting to hear something awesome? Are they expecting less-than-awesomeness?
Honestly, it starts with how the pastor reads it and talks about it. Does he read with passion? Or does he just “get through” the Scripture so he can get on to the sermon?
Try this. Have the person who is speaking right before the Scripture reader say something like…
As Jennifer comes up to read, let’s all remember that this is the very Word of the Living God!
Steve is going to come and share the passage that is the foundation of everything we will be unpacking in the sermon.
Let’s all stand as we honor and celebrate the reading of God’s Word.
Something that reminds everyone that this is special. This is living. In a word: Awesome!
2. Give the readers the Scripture well ahead of time.
This is huge. And it’s not done enough.
Yes, some people are naturally good readers. You can hand them a Bible as they are walking toward the microphone and they’ll read it with passion. (Take note of these people. You’ll need them when someone gets sick or forgets to show up.)
In general, the rest of us need practice to read out loud and do it well. (Yes…that means you.)
Most liturgical churches know the next week’s passage far in advance. Hand it out early. A week or two early. Ask them to read the passage – out loud! – at least four times before they come to church to read. Encourage them to read it like they’re reading a children’s book to a 5-year-old.
They will be much more likely to read with passion and emotion. (They’ll also realize they need to look up how to pronounce Zerubbabel and Jehoiakim. )
3. If possible, have a reader internalize the passage and do it from memory.
This is the best scenario of all.
Look ahead and figure out a time when the passage is one of the Psalms or a story from one of the Gospels. Find a person – or a few people – in your church who has a flair for the dramatic. Challenge them to internalize the passage.
The week that they are going to share, simply say, “Jim and Kathy are going to be sharing the Gospel passage this morning.”
Then just let them tell it. Watch what happens. Watch how the congregation responds. You’ll be amazed.
My good friends at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, MN tried it. You know what happened? People got so excited that now the reading of Scripture in every service they have is done from memory. It’s been more than two years and they’re still going strong!
Now that’s awesome!
Question: Is the reading of Scripture in your church awesome (or less-than-awesome)?
Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net – jannoon028