Roster Role: Ash 10:30am Bible Reader

Reading the Bible in church is a crucial part of our meeting together. Hearing God’s word is the heart of our Sunday service, so reading the Bible should be taken seriously, and done with joy. Clear and careful reading greatly helps people to understand and respond to the word of God.

Time Commitment

  • Frequency: Bible reading volunteers are generally on the roster every six weeks at the most
  • In advance: at least ten minutes preparing for the reading

What does a win look like?

  • The congregation have heard the planned bible passages read accurately and clearly.
  • The congregation follow along in pew bibles easily, if they wish

Keys to winning

  • You will receive an email with the run sheet, or a phone call with the details of the reading, by the Thursday before the service. (Any bible passages listed on a roster are subject to change, and the run sheet will have the final version)
  • Always read from the the correct version of the bible (NRSV at all services) so that people can read along in the pew bibles.
  • If you don't have a copy of the correct version, you can access them at bible.crosswalk.com
  • Think about which words should be emphasised, where the phrases start and end, which phrases should be fast or slow, and where there should be pauses (eg paragraph breaks).
  • Before the service, check in with the service leader and confirm exactly when you should get up to read.
  • Sit in a spot where you can easily and quickly get out to read - ie not in the back row with 5 people between you and the aisle!
  • The best way to introduce each reading is like this:
    “Our first Bible reading is on page 321 of the pew bibles. It's from the book of Judges, chapter 3, starting at verse 4”. Note that there's no real need to say where the passage ends.
  • After introducing the reading, wait until those opening pew bibles have found the right page before you start. You may like to repeat the page number.
  • Because we naturally rush when standing in front of a group of people, a speed that feels too slow to you is probably about right!
  • It's helpful to leave a good-sized pause at the end of each reading before moving on.
  • There is a response after all the readings indicated on the service sheet
    You say “This is the word of the Lord”
    and the congregation join you to say “Thanks be to God”.
  • A great resource on effective bible reading is Clifford Warne's talk on sydneyanglicans.net - well worth a listen
  • The following excerpt from DA Carson's "worship by the book" is also worth reading for inspiration:

    "There are times when I have felt that the Bible was being read with less preparation than the notices - and with considerably less understanding. I hesitate to use the following illustrations because of my part in it, but I do so a reminder to my own heart of the seriousness of the issue. A year or two after my conversion I was appointed as a Lay Reader in the Church of England , to Holy Trinity, Guernsey. There were two other, more senior Lay readers on the staff, with the result that on most Sundays the responsibilities could be evenly shared out. As it happened, the Vicar almost always asked me to read the Lessons, following a Lectionary which listed the passages appointed to be read each Sunday of the year. My wife and I lived in a small flat at the time, but I can vividly remember my Sunday morning routine. Immediately after breakfast I would go to the bedroom, lock the door, and begin to prepare reading the Lesson that morning. After a word of prayer I would look up the Lesson in the Lectionary, and read it carefully in the Authorized Version, which we were using in the church. Then I would read it through in every other version I had in my possession, in order to get thoroughly familiar with the whole drift and sense of the passage. Next I would turn to the commentaries. I did not have many in those days, but those I had I used. I would pay particular attention to word meanings and doctrinal implications. When I had finished studying every passage in detail, I would go to the mantelpiece, which was roughly the same height as the lectern in the church, and prop up the largest version of the Authorized Version I possessed. Having done that, I would walk very slowly up to it from the the other side of the room, and begin to speak, aloud: 'Here beginneth the first verse of the tenth chapter of he gospel according to St. John' (or whatever according the passage was). Then I would begin to read aloud the portion appointed. If I made so much as a slip of the tongue, a single mispronunciation, I would stop, walk back across the room, and start again, until I had read the whole passage word perfect, perhaps two or three times. My wife would tell you that there were times when I emerged from the bedroom with that day's clean shirt stained with perspiration drawn from the effort of preparing one Lesson to read in the church. Does that sounds like carrying things too far? Then let me add this: I was told that there were times when after the reading of the Lesson people wanted to leave the service there and then and go quietly home to think over the implications of what God has said to them in his Word." - John Blanchard, quoted by R. Kent Hughes, 'Free Church Worship: The Challenge of Freedom', Worship by the Book, ed. D.A. Carson, 2002.