At Redemption we seek to saturate our services in Scripture. We read it over our church, we read it as a church, we sing Scripture, we pray Scripture, and we preach Scripture. There is power is God's Word. Hebrews 4:12 says,
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (emphasis mine).
Furthermore, in Isaiah 55: 10-11 God says,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (emphasis mine).
Don't miss this.
When God's Word goes forth is does exactly what God wants it to. There is never a time when the Bible is proclaimed to no end. The Scriptures succeed exactly as the Spirit would have them.
Because we believe these promises about God's Word, we seek every opportunity to share it. One of the ways we do this is by reading Scripture in our services, out loud, over our church.
Sounds simple enough, right? Not so much. Reading Scripture out loud in front of people is not something everyone does well. It takes preparation and practice. Calm down, I realize the power is in God's Word itself, not our ability to read it, but that should never be an excuse NOT to labor to show God and His Word the honor deserved.
Yesterday, Abby Wickman, one of our worship leaders at Redemption, did an excellent job with a corporate reading of Romans 11:33-35. Here's the video:
I love Abby. She's all of about 5 feet tall, with a voice and heart twice that size. As I listened to her yesterday, I believe there are five things she did that are key to effectively reading Scripture corporately.
1. Read Beforehand
Abby was clearly prepared. She'd been assigned the text ahead of time, she'd read it, practiced it, and had it in her heart, prior to reading it over the congregation. When we read the Scriptures over people, we're participating in the supernatural work of the Spirit of God. That warrants preparing prior to participating.
2. Read Thoughtfully
Think about WHAT you're reading and HOW it should be read. I love the way Abby's reading built to a climax. People erupted into applause when she finished - not for her, but because of the truth she read. Some readings should be somber, some reflective, and some celebratory. Examine the text and seek to capture the appropriate tone.
3. Read Naturally
It should sound like you reading God's Word. Ditch "the preacher voice." Read with a strong, clear, and natural cadence. If you've prepared and been thoughtful, this should be easy. Get it in you and then let it out of you, but do it naturally.
4. Read Loud
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). This means people have to be able to hear it. Don't read in a whisper. Stand up, lift your voice and proclaim God's Word in a LOUD voice.
5. Read Passionately
Too often the good news is heralded like bad news. Reading about the greatness of our God, the nature of Christ's sacrifice, and the joy we have in Jesus should evoke emotion. These things should move us and our reading of them should reflect this! Passion doesn't mean yelling, but it does mean feeling what you're reading. Do you feel it?
We can't have too much Scripture in our lives. Let's fill our services with the inspired, inherent, authoritative Word of God. Let's read it beforehand, thoughtfully, naturally, loud, and passionately. God's Word will succeed just as God wants it to. Rest in that.