Monday, July 25, 2011

Pulpit Review: Equipping

McLean, Max and Warren Bird. Foreword by Ravi Zacharias. Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 176 Pages. Paper with video DVD. $24.99.  (P) 

While I appreciate this resource and the work of its main author, I must respectfully disagree with his main thesis:
90 percent of effective Scripture reading comes from selecting gifted, trained, committed readers...(Chapters 2, 3, 9, et al)
In contrast, I would assert that the Lord Himself equipped those who were called into His service, especially Moses, Jeremiah, and Paul. 

To be sure, in deference to the author's point, a reader can take the enlivening word and read it like a phone book. It takes special skill to make the Gospel boring! :) 

That said, I would recommend Unleashing the Word to help our Lutheran congregations and readers to think about the public reading of Scripture in a fresh way. McClean brings his theatrical experience to bear on publicly reading God's Word. I would caution that there is a fine line between a passionate, enthusiastic, and conviction-filled reading of Scripture and an overdone theatrical one. This is where the text and DVD pair particularly well. Watch the videos to learn what to do.

Few resources are without some bit of controversy these days. Church bodies disagree about the service of laypeople and women in the liturgy. I find it to be most appropriate for the Pastor to do the reading since it is proclamation of the Word (cf. 1 Corinthians 14). Since it has been a challenge to find pulpit supply in Wyoming, our congregation has had designated Elders of the congregation read the first two readings for Divine Service and assist with Communion Distribution, and when I need to be away, a two-Elder team leads a non-Communion service and reads I sermon I prepared.

I will share the author's tips on preparation, study, reading, and speaking as part of Elder Training at our congregation.

This book-and-DVD collaboration from a gifted Bible narrator and an award-winning writer shows how churches can train their laypeople to ”unleash the Word of God” while reading the Scriptures, whether during worship, in small groups, or at home. Straightforward and culturally relevant, it helps people proclaim the Bible in a way that communicates its life-changing power!

Does the Bible sound dull when you hear it read in church?

An auditory tidal wave cascades from our televisions, radios, media players, and the Internet. Today’s distracted worshippers often feel spiritually shortchanged when the Scriptures are spoken without passion and power.

This lively and encouraging book-and-DVD set, the collaboration of a gifted Bible narrator and an award-winning writer, shows how churches can train their laypeople to unleash the Word of God with enthusiasm, conviction, and passion.

Straightforward and culturally relevant, with practical how-to graphics, this resource provides the necessary tools to teach you how to read the Bible aloud, in a way that communicates its life-changing power!

(Publisher's website)

Unleashing the Word has advice and techniques that will help anyone who reads the Bible aloud, especially Christian Pastors, for the sake of Christ, He Whom we proclaim!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.