Dan Phillips over at Team Pyro writes about the public reading of the Bible in church. Because that was one of the topics of our recent deacon meeting, the post stuck out to me. After qualifying his concern for obedience to 1 Timothy 4:13 and the manner in which the public reading is carried out, he lists some helpful pointers (included below) for those wishing to do better reading God’s Word in church.
1. Always practice reading the passage aloud. This may be the most important single pointer. What works inside your head may not get out your mouth, intact. So give it a go, at least once.
2. Make sure you understand the passage. That’s why, given the option, I always do my own reading. Ostensibly I’ve studied it, pored over it, marinated my soul in it. I should be ready to read the passage with thought and meaning and proper emphasis. Of course, it isn’t a necessity that the preacher also be the reader. But the reader of the passage should first have been a student of the passage.
3. Don’t rush it. It is an important part of the service. God is speaking to His people. It’s not a box to check on the way to the Real Deal. This is the Word of God.
4. Read it with life. The last thing a Bible reading should feel like is lifeless and bloodless and monotonous. “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet” (Isaiah 58:1) would be good counsel to the man who reads stirring, passionate passages in assembly. No need for histrionics; but no excuse for soporifics. These are the words of God! Our readings should never sound like Ben Stein (“Beulah? Beulah?”).
5. Know how to pronounce difficult words or names. There are plenty of dictionaries. Or, you can ask an authority. Zurishaddai, Kiriath-jearim, or Magor-missabib are just as much part of the inspired text as grace, forgiveness, or love. If they’re in the portion you’re to read, that’s your ministry today. Say them with equal clarity.
6. Read the psalm titles. If your assignment is to read Psalm 32 or 51 or 90, read the title. I was cheered to hear the great Bruce Waltke say (far better) what I’ve also said for years: the titles and ascriptions (and notations) are as much a part of the text as the rest, and there is no historical reason for rejecting them. They’re part of the text we have as the word of God. In Hebrew, the title often is verse one. Skipping the title isn’t reading the psalm. Don’t leave off part of the Word.
Certainly this is not exhaustive, but it is a good start. Read the complete post “Bible Reading–In Church”.