Scripture reading is one of the most important tasks for any worship leader, pastor or volunteer reader on Sundays. This worship practice might seem easy enough when compared to the skill needed to play an instrument, but it is fraught with peril if taken lightly. In Christ-Centered Worship, Bryan Chapell writes,
“Readers can fail to group words or phrases properly, begin or end a selection in inappropriate contexts, speak in tones wholly foreign to the sentiment of the text, or, in short, by a myriad of variables fail to communicate what the text says …
“Readers should be concerned to make climactic what the writer intended to be the climax, to connote feelings appropriate for the sense of the passage … In this way oral reading becomes a type of exposition of Scripture, and its presentation becomes a tool for both communicating and discovering the truths within the text.”
With this in mind, here are five tips for liturgical readers:
1. Understand the text. You can’t serve it well until you understand it through the mind of Christ. Pray for the Spirit’s illumination on the passage you’re presenting.
2. Practice reading aloud beforehand, just as you would practice singing or playing worship songs. Don’t wing it.
3. Make eye contact at the beginning and end of the reading. No matter how long the reading is, you can quickly memorize the first sentence. Look at your congregation while reciting this sentence, to help focus their attention on your words.
4. Emphasize verbs, particularly action verbs. This will make the reading flow well, and help draw your congregation into the passage.
5. Pace yourself well. Nervous people often read too quickly. Read at a comfortable pace, and pause after key sentences or phrases.
Do you have any additional tips you can share with us? Let us know in the comments!