The public reading of Scripture is a pretty standard part of most church services—or at least it should be, according to 1 Timothy 4:13.
But ‘pretty standard’ doesn’t mean ordinary or insignificant. Indeed, the apostle Paul thinks it is so important that he urges Timothy to be “devoted” to the task.
What about your church?
If a visitor came to your church would they conclude that you take the Bible readings pretty seriously? Or would they perhaps walk in and notice someone frantically scanning the Bible passage for the first time just before church starts, desperately hoping there is no reference to Onesiphorus or Mephibosheth or the region of Shittim?
In this short course, we’ll think through the why and how of communicating God’s word clearly and meaningfully for the benefit of those to whom you are reading. We’ll see what it looks like, in other words, to be devoted to the public reading of Scripture in a practical and achievable way.
Welcome to the Reading the Bible Aloud course. We’re delighted that you have committed some time toward the goal of being a better communicator of God’s word when you walk up the front to read it out aloud.
One of the things we’ve grappled with as we’ve been developing this course is how high to set the bar. How much preparation should we ask you to do before you step up to read? Just how well do you need to understand the passage of Scripture you are reading? How much practice do we expect you to put in?
On the one hand, we want to encourage you to take the ministry of reading the Bible to others seriously. On the other hand, we don’t want it to seem like you need to spend days preparing—because, to be honest, not many are going to put their name down for the Bible reading roster if that is the expectation.
In the end, how much you prepare is largely up to you. On the whole though, at least in our own experience, we suspect many should be taking the task just a little bit more seriously than they seem to. Reading the passage quickly for the first time just before church starts is simply not adequate.
But with just a modest amount of preparation—the sort of preparation we are going to outline in this course—we think the quality and effectiveness of the Bible readings in our churches and other fellowships can be greatly improved, to the glory of God. That is certainly our prayer.
So we hope you enjoy the course and that it gives you extra confidence and skills that will make Bible reading a better experience not only for you, but also for the people you are reading to.
Jason Perini and Ian Carmichael