Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Why the church should always provide pew bibles

Last Sunday night I visited a church and noticed something missing which I, incidentally, raised with the senior minister when he introduced himself to me.

They had no pew bibles.

Once it caught my attention, and I brought it to the attention of a few people around me, the more I realised the disservice that they were providing.

First of all, the absence of bibles strips those in the pews, especially those visiting - and expecting pew bibles - or new to church, the chance to physically handle the word of God or be able to take one.

Now, I know that anyone with a smart phone has a bible at their fingertips, but that leads me to my second point..

For, secondly, if you're expecting those attending to either bring their own bibles or look up the passage online, then you deprive the church of a unifying scripture translation. This complicates both the content of preaching and the focus of the bible reading.

On multiple occasions last Sunday the preacher switched from the translation which was read due to his comfort with an alternate. This bugged me. And it could have been easily avoided.

But, furthermore, the practice of allowing for innumerable bible translations just opens the door for more translation questions to be raised which you might not delve into. Why would you encourage this?

Additionally, I was bothered when the congregation was encouraged to look up another part of the bible since I couldn't quickly flip to it. Having the bible in your hands allows you, if you're biblically proficient, to easily follow any random trail that might spring to mind or be able to see on the page the wider context of the passage.

Finally, and most importantly, the pew bible - or lack-thereof - sends a subtitle, yet powerful, message.

Can you say that you, as a church, really value the bible if you don't provide one, ensuring that it's available to all?

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