Continuing off this interview, this is a thought about reading the Bible as community.
What can churches do to encourage deeper engagement with Scripture?
Simply facilitate a more communal Bible reading experience. It’s amazing what happens when people get together, and instead of studying right away, they just experience the Bible in big readings and shared readings—going around the room, or listening to someone skilled in reading a big portion of it. But we just don’t hear it much anymore. The Bible was born in an oral culture. It was something people would have heard, not seen.
Then it’s important to allow for discussion of Scripture. The analogy I use is of the synagogue. In Scripture you have these stories of what happens when Jesus or Paul go into the synagogue. You can tell from those stories that the settings were interactive. It wasn’t just the rabbi or leader delivering a monologue and everyone leaving. There was interaction, and everyone was expected to take part. With Paul, even when people aren’t liking what he’s saying, he’s invited back the next week to do it again.
We’ve lost the ability to process the Bible in community. We always think that someone has to be right. And that if someone is wrong, they have to be silenced or we have to leave. We just don’t have a high tolerance for a diversity of opinions. In the New Testament, there were strong opinions, and in many cases they turned into deal-breakers. But we start there. We need more open, healthy discussions. We need to get away from this idea of just me and my Bible and my private opinions, and have more open, communal discussions of Scripture.