Last week I wrote to Youth Pastors asking them to encourage kids to bring their Bibles to church—and to use them there! Not because it makes them look holy, or just because it’s a good habit, but to help them learn to read, know, and understand God’s Word. I acknowledged the changing technologies (from scrolls to books to smart phones) and the changing cultures (from oral to visual and, some say, a return to oral).
Now, thanks to one of those Youth Pastors, it’s time to put in a request to you: encourage us to bring and use our Bibles at church; help us as adults also learn to read, use, know, and appreciate God’s Word. This idea isn’t mine; one of my former pastors put it in my mind when he stood in front of the church and announced that we would no longer be projecting the day’s Scripture reading, for just those purposes: to help train us. Here are some practical suggestions:
- Don’t put the main Bible passage on the screen. Instead, ask people to use their own Bible, whether print or electronic. Make sure there is enough light for people to read by. Verses read during the message may be projected, but not the whole text.
- Have Bibles available in the sanctuary. If you don’t have Bibles in the seats, be sure they are readily available at the entrance doors. For a while, you may even offer a Bible to each person entering, along with the bulletin or other printed materials. Well before you are ready to read the passage, ask if anyone needs a Bible, and have ushers ready to pass them out. Oh, and be sure they are all the same translation and format (see next point).
- Announce the passage at least twice. Make sure the reference is in the bulletin and put it on the screen.
- Help us find the passage. Tell us the page number in the available Bibles, but also give some hints on finding it in our own Bibles (e.g., table of contents, general location, major books before or after the passage, etc.). Give us time, too! You may even print a QR code in the bulletin, linking to the passage in an online Bible such as www.biblegateway.com. (QR codes are easy to generate and can be used to link to just about any website. But be sure to test it each week, or you might end up with some surprises.)
- Give a Bible to anyone who wants one, no questions asked! This should be the first priority in your annual budget, or at least a non-negotiable. They don’t have to be high-quality leather Bibles; inexpensive paperbacks are fine. But be generous with God’s Word!
One last thought: Ask everyone to stand up when reading the main passage. In this we follow the example of the people of Israel, who stood in honor of God’s Word when Ezra opened the Book of the Law (see Nehemiah 8).
If God’s Word is worth proclaiming each Sunday, and worth teaching our kids, then it’s certainly worth these simple steps. And you just may convince me, too, Pastor, that knowing and listening to God is even more important than listening to you!