The old stereotype goes like this: Evangelicals read the Bible all the time. They all diligently do their quiet times and read their one year Bible plans every day rain or shine. Those people in other denominations? Not so much.
It is partially true, this stereotype. Evangelicals take their access to the Bible seriously. It is a rally point to know that you can carry your thoroughly tabbed and covered Bible to church and follow along with the pastor as he pontificates on whatever passage he has chosen for a particular Sunday.
Yet, for all the carrying of Bibles to and from church, what else do most Evangelicals do with their Bibles on Sunday mornings at church? Not much at all.
Something funny I have noticed as we have ventured into some traditional church services as we church hunt is that in all of the liturgical services we have been to members of the congregation are called upon to read Scripture. Those mainliners might not bring their Bibles to church in a fancy leather cover, but at least they are allowed to actually read Scripture, not just follow along diligently.
I can harken back to my college theology classes and recall that the distinctive for Luther, the very thought that has trickled down to Evangelicals, is that there is a “priesthood of all believers.” For Luther, this meant that every person should be able to read, understand and have a Bible for themselves in their own language. It’s a theological conviction that has now permeated all of Christianity. Funny thing then that in so many Evangelical churches you are applauded for reading your Bible at home, at school, in the coffee shop, at small group, in Sunday School class, on an airplane or before all sorts of events, but the people are not called upon to read Scripture during a church service. This is the pastor’s job to do during the sermon.
This begs the question: Does your church trust you with Scripture?
If you believe the answer is yes, but your church doesn’t currently have anyone read Scripture but the pastor, what do you think the reason is that Scripture is the pastor’s domain and not the congregation’s part in the service?