The Only Perfect Part of the Sunday Service

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I’ve had conversations with pastors and church leaders who obsess over the production value of their Sunday morning service. Both the amount of money and time spent on trying to make the service flawless reflect our desire to make the service perfect. But here’s the truth: no matter how many times you practice the song, how well you angle the lights, or build your props, you will never get it perfect. The truth is, everything we touch is smudged with sin. No matter how hard we try we can’t produce a perfect worship service.

But don’t check out in hopelessness on me. There is a way to have at least a portion of your service be perfect. The answer may come from a surprising source. The only perfect part of the Sunday service is when the Bible is read. When we open up the Scriptures and read the Word of God we are ensuring that perfection is on display. After all, the Bible is the perfect Word of God. The Bible is God’s very words. At the risk of understating the matter: the Scriptures are breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16), living (Heb. 4:12), pure (Ps. 12:6), true (Ps. 19:9), sufficient (2 Tim. 3:17), trustworthy (Ps. 111:7), and enduring forever (Ps. 119:60). Indeed, the Word is perfect (Ps. 19:7)!

Little wonder then, in addition to preaching the Bible, Christian ministers are called to prioritize the public reading of the Scriptures when they gather together:

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13)

For some this is a novel concept. It has become increasingly unfashionable to preach God’s Word, let alone spend additional time reading it. However, think with me, if our worship services are intended to glorify God and encourage those assembled with who God is, what better way to achieve this than reading God’s Word?

Here are some suggestions for making your worship service perfect.

Frame the entire service around the Word. Consider making your Sunday service an inclusio (bracketing the service) by having a call to worship where you read the Word of God at the beginning and then a benediction at the conclusion where you also read the text aloud.

Introduce different genres of Scripture. If you are preaching an Old Testament narrative consider reading a New Testament epistle. By doing this you will help show the continuity of the Bible and the developing trajectory of themes. If you are intentional with this you might work through a sampling of the entire Bible in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Don’t be afraid to read lengthy sections of Scripture. This past Sunday I preached Genesis 24. This is the longest chapter in Genesis. It takes an astounding nine minutes to read. One of our elders read through the entire chapter with emotion and precision. He let everyone know that it was going to be a longer passage than normal but also challenged everyone to focus upon the Word of God. I was encouraged by the positive feedback I received during this week. I’m not suggesting you load up Genesis 24 this Sunday; you may need to do some teaching here to bring your congregation along. Be patient, but aim toward a more robust appreciation of the public reading of Scripture.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
Erik Raymond