A Different Way of Reading Scripture

Featuring Terri Welch Posted on May 12, 2008

Yesterday was Pentecost, and since I attend a Methodist church -- high church, following the church calendar and liturgy and so on -- we have a certain pattern we follow, more or less the following: Announcements, greeting, call to worship, two songs, scripture reading, sermon, prayer, offering, song, call to Christian discipleship, song, benediction.

Our Senior Pastor decided to mix it up a bit, and instead of merely reading the first 21 verses of Acts 2 -- when the Holy Spirit descends upon the fledgling church and everybody speaks in different languages -- he read the first 12 verses with a sound effect of wind playing underneath, and then we had an audio file play of different people saying "What does this mean?" in different languages. Someone else walked on stage, and said, "They must be drunk." The pastor then read what Peter said, and we had an actor from our congregation come on stage and say the verses from Joel that Peter then quotes.

It was very effective, and really got the congregation engaged.  If your church does Scripture reading before the sermon, you may want to consider mixing it up a bit as well. Maybe have one of your actors memorize the Scripture and come on stage and perform it. Scripture is living and active, and too often our Scripture reading in church sounds like blablablablaJesusblablablaHolySpiritblablablaThoushaltnotblablabla. We need to lend power to our Scripture reading and get the congregation engaged.

If you've ever read the Bible chronologically, you'll know what a shock it is to go from reading the last book written in the Old Testament, to the New Testament. Not only had it been 400 years since the Israelites had had a prophet, Jesus was unlike anyone the Israelites had ever seen before. Imagine how exciting it was for those people to hear what Jesus had to say. Sometimes I think we deny Scripture its power by making its public reading a bit stiff. See what you can do to make the reading of scripture in your church a thing to be looked forward to.