Friday, 19 September 2014

Taking your bible to church

It has always been my normal practice to take my bible to church. Growing up in Sunday School you always took your bible with you. Going to Youth Fellowship meetings you took your bible. At the regular church services and at prayer meetings you likewise had your bible. The very idea of going to church meetings, where you would hear the word of God, without having your own copy of the scriptures was completely foreign. Yet today there does not seem to be the same habit of taking your bible to church as there would have been just a few years ago. A Christian radio show in America recently commented on how they had surveyed the thousands of people going to a US mega church, yet found that literally only a handful were carrying a copy of the Word of God. Why is this becoming so common today among Christians and why is it always important that we take our bible with us when we go to worship God?

One of the reasons why many people do not take their bible with them to church is that the minister hardly refers to it. Whilst to most evangelical Christians it seems unbelievable that any preacher could get through a Christian service without opening his bible, in many churches that is essentially the case. If they preacher makes little or no reference to God's Word then why would any member of the congregation think it important to bring a copy of the scriptures with them? The church which does not give us cause to open our bible during the service is a church where we should not be found!

The multiplicity of bible versions used in church services has also contributed to people being less inclined to bring their bible to church. It is not so much that different churches use different versions, but that several different versions of the scriptures may be quoted by the preacher during the same service. He can jump from the KJV to the NIV to the ESV to the Good News Bible and back again, all meaning that what the congregation hear is not what they have in front of them. This practice makes it difficult for the hearers to properly follow what the preacher is reading when it does not always correspond with their copy of God's Word.

The use of modern technology has also contributed to bibles not being brought to church. Hymns and choruses are projected onto screens so hymnbooks are not required. It is then a small step to believers feeling that there is no need to use a bible in church either. This is not to say that modern technology cannot be used to good effect but great care must be taken when we introduce it to the worship of God. Many Christians will also possess tablets and mobiles with Bible apps on them (myself included) yet bringing your iPad to church is simply not the same as bringing your bible.

The atmosphere and lighting in many modern churches also discourages people from bringing their bible. The stage and the speaker are illuminated but the congregation is much more dimly lit. What is the point in bringing a bible to church if you cannot see to read it?

Why then should we make it our habit to always take our bible to church services? The foremost reason is so that we can follow and examine what the preacher says with what is written in the Word of God. We should never take any preachers's word at face value without comparing it with the scriptures and having our bible with us as we listen to the preaching of God's Word is an important aid to this. There are many churches today where, if people took their bible with them, they would quickly discover that the minister's theology has no support in it.

It is also an encouragement to the preacher to see a congregation with their bibles opened following his message. The rustle of pages as the people turn to scripture references will be a sign to him that they have a hunger for the Word of God, that they are not content in simply listening but that they have a desire to examine the passage for themselves. It will indicate that they are indeed listening to the sermon and that they are there for a purpose.

Taking your bible to church is also a visible witness to the unconverted. Although fewer Christians will walk to church today than did so in the past it is still likely that people will see you either leaving the house on going into the church. When they see a bible in your hand it will speak to them more than your best Sunday suit or dress. When strangers come into the meeting the importance of the Word of God will be stressed upon them when they see open bibles in the hands of the people.

Going to church on Sunday? Make sure you have your bible.

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