On Reading the Bible Out Loud

Here’s a good book that gives practical lessons on how to read the Bible aloud: Unleashing the Word by Max McLean and Warren Bird.  One section I appreciated was the list on how to prepare for reading the Bible aloud (I’ve edited to keep it brief):

1) Pray.  …When I pray, I usually close with the phrase that God will use this reading ‘for God’s glory and our good.’

2) Make sure the print is readable.  …You don’t want to lose your place or bury your face in the Bible as you read.

3) Understand your text.  Good readers demonstrate a deep commitment to an understanding of the text. …Good preparation involves a personal commitment to understanding the passage.

4) Block out your assigned text.  Most people are wired to only receive one thought or unit of information at a time.  As you initially read your text…, divide it into natural thought groups.

5) Find the passion.  Your delivery will be the result of preparation and commitment, but the key is to find your passion for the text – that emotional connection to the words.

6) Outline the emotional journey.  When you read Scripture, you are taking your hearers on an emotional journey.  Look for the ‘story’ in your text – a beginning, middle, and end based on your preparation (or look for the peaks, curves, and valleys).

7) Keep practicing!  The entire process will involve reading the passage at least eight times aloud before your actual presentation.  Stand up as you read.

8) Plan to have a verbally animated conversation with your audience.  Prepare yourself with the right attitude – you have something exciting and wonderful that you are about to share with your listeners.

9) Remember the role of faith.  …Believe that God will use his Word at it is spoken through people like you and me.

10) Rehearse the event.  If possible, practice reading the passage in the venue where you will be speaking with the sound system turned on. Practice the entire process: step up to the podium; introduce the text; read it, giving any concluding comment (‘this is the Word of the Lord’); make eye contact; and walk away from the podium (p. 101-103).

While I don’t agree with everything McLean and Bird write in this book, I do believe it is a helpful one for seminary students, elders, and pastors to study since reading the Word publicly should never be done casually or flippantly.  If you need some practical and biblical advice on reading the Bible out loud, you’ll want to get this book for sure.

Here’s the full info: Max McLean and Warren Bird, Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009).

shane lems

2 thoughts on “On Reading the Bible Out Loud”

    1. Well, McLean spent a lot of time on Scripture reading teams that churches should have (selected and trained laypeople). I’m not totally against this, but I am more comfortable with the minister of the Word reading the Word for worship services.

      Also, a few times I was a uncomfortable with McLean’s approval of almost acting the Scripture text out. I’d say we should read the Bible dramatically, but there’s a danger in being over-dramatic I suppose.

      These weren’t huge critiques, but I always like to mention it when I disagree with parts of a book. This way people won’t think I believe every part of every book I endorse, and they won’t get so upset at me if they didn’t like some part of a book I recommend. Make sense?

      Hope this helps,


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