Scripture reading is one of the most important – and sadly neglected – parts of a Sunday worship service. NT Wright says: “Many people can read; not everyone can be heard.” Yet if the Word of God is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12), then we should give it the very best attention we can. Here are some tips for reading worship well in worship – graciously, confidently, reverently, meaningfully:
- Use the NRSV (or NIRV for Prism services and All Nations Worship Services), or the version provided to you in the liturgy. Read out of an actual bible rather than a phone or a piece of paper.
- Prepare by reading the text yourself devotionally beforehand. Then read it aloud multiple times; practice getting your tongue around all the consonants and vowels.
- Check for words or phrases that grab your attention, words that are difficult to pronounce, words that are easy to confuse; how will you read these so that the meaning of the text is clear?
- How does the text make you feel? Can you read it expressively? – i.e., in a way that conveys that feeling? Because you’re in a big room, you will need to be “extra” expressive.
- Attend to pitch, pace, volume, and bodily presentation (hand gestures, etc.). Specifically, when you read, you should read a third slower than you normally speak, and about a third louder (even with a microphone).
- Keep your mouth the same distance away from the mic throughout the whole reading.
- Make eye contact with the congregation regularly, and maintain the eye contact through the *end* of sentences.
- Make sure to give sufficient pauses throughout.
- Tell the congregation where the text comes from, and if it seems helpful, give (at most) ONE sentence of framing (e.g. “In today’s text, the prophet Jonah is in a funk; he was sent by God to prophesy destruction to the city of Ninevah, but the Ninevites repent, and God decides to spare them.”)
- Mean what you say as you are saying it.
For more tips, visit the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship website.
We invite a wide variety of people to sign up for scripture reading. You can access the signup here.