Being a pastor is a strange job sometimes. Using the Word of God we cajole, exhort, challenge, correct and rebuke. Those of us with a critical mind constantly see things where, as a church, we could be doing better. Often I feel like I am criticising and challenging, and rarely ‘encouraging’. (Fortunately godly Christians often take such challenges as encouragement!) So in this post I hope our readers don’t mind me praising our church for once!
I remember long ago, when I was at what was an excellent church, being surprised by the attitude to the Bible reading. When someone was leading the prayers up front, there was a reverent silence. No one would come into the room, but wait at the door. You could hear a pin drop: no one spoke. However, when the Bible was being read there was distraction, chatter, people coming and going. How odd, I thought! We don’t want to interrupt when we are speaking to God, but when he is speaking to us, we feel free to move around and speak and even ignore him!
Often, even at very good, godly churches, the Bible can be seen as a bit boring and a bit of a chore. The antidote of course is not to read less, but more! The Bible is anything but boring! (But it does often require some work to be done on our part). Long readings are decried. Multiple readings may rarely happen.
Right from the start I was impressed by my first visit to Hills Bible Church. The service leader read out passages of the Bible throughout the service. The service was soaked in the Word.
Later, when I was the interim pastor, I wanted to introduce systematic Bible readings. We would read the passage that was preached on (we preach through books of the Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse). But we would also read a chapter of a book that we were not preaching on (thank you to The Briefing for such suggestions). We have read through Judges and we are currently reading through Proverbs. Presently I am preaching through the book of Revelation, and we read all of the passage that I preach on, often two chapters.
I think that in many congregations, sadly, there would have been complaints, subtle or otherwise, about having two long Bible readings. I want to praise the folk at Hills Bible Church. They diligently listen to the Bible readings: at least two long ones, plus some brief ones from the service leader. We have, I think, established right from the start, a culture at this church of listening to the Bible. Praise God! We should not take this for granted.
Well done Hills Bible Church! Long may you sit under the Word of God and hear it read at length.