The public reading and hearing of Scripture is an important part of worship that seems to have declined over the years. Before the invention of the printing press and widespread literacy it was the only way in which most people could have access to the Bible. But in our technologically advanced, highly individualistic age, we have come to neglect this experience, which can actually be very powerful and moving.
A project called The Voice has begun to produce tools for those who may want to read Scripture or tell Bible stories in a reader’s theater format. This can be a powerful addition to worship or can be presented by itself as a vespers or midweek meeting. A woman in Denver told me about a young adult series there in which a vocal team presents a passage of Scripture while the crowd eats a light supper. They then break up into table groups to discuss the text.
Each chapter has no more than a few minutes of material. The different voices are clearly marked. Some of the more difficult language has been smoothed out. The producers are Bible-centered conservative Protestants. They have published two books to date and have more on the way. The Last Eyewitness: The Final Week covers John 13–21. The Dust Off Their Feet covers the book of Acts. Each of these has been tested before live audiences before they were published.
You can get these tools from Thomas Nelson Publishers at most Christian book stores, at www.thomasnelson.com, or directly from The Voice Scripture Project at www.hearthevoice.com.
Ruthie Jacobsen tells the story in her book Bridges 101 of having a party at her home to let her friends and neighbors see the bathroom that she and her husband remodeled. Two dozen people came. Some of these were suppliers or had done some of the work. She writes, “After the inspection of the bathroom, we went downstairs for the appetizers and the blessing. As we stood in a circle we introduced each one and again thanked them for the beautiful job they had done. Then Don prayed and asked God to bless each one of them—and their businesses.” At the end of the evening, one of her neighbors told her, “You didn’t say much about it, but Jesus was everywhere here tonight.” The couple who owns the cabinet shop later asked Don and Ruthie to come to the grand opening of their new store and have a public prayer of blessing as part of the event.
Ruthie says Bridges 101 is about “prewitnessing” and that it is “for the rest of us . . . the non-Mark Finleys and non-Walter Pearsons . . . who get sweaty palms every time a witnessing opportunity appears.” Every single page, some of them with more than one story, is absolutely real and remarkably simple. This book is only 80 pages in length, and our church members need this message. Personal evangelism in North America today is not that 1945 door-to-door-salesman stuff anymore. It is Ruthie and Don’s “bathroom party” and scores of other simple, fun, and good ideas. (In case you don’t know, Ruthie Jacobsen is prayer ministries coordinator for the North American Division, and Don is a retired General Conference officer.)
I recommend that you call AdventSource and order a box of these so you can pass them out to every family at church. About 95 percent of our active members need to read this book and get a new grip on how to share Jesus. You can order this book at www.adventsource.org or
by calling (800) 328-0525.
Teaching How to Keep the Sabbath
People today are more interested in the experience of the Sabbath than they are its history and theology. People with no Adventist background whatsoever have listened to a brief description of what actually happens on a typical Sabbath and immediately volunteer to become Sabbathkeepers. It appeals to many contemporary needs!
A new book by May-Ellen Colón focuses on how to keep the Sabbath. It is titled From Sundown to Sundown and was released this summer at camp meetings by Pacific Press Publishing Association. Colón collected input from a large number of Adventists all over the world, most of them average church members in the pews. She is realistic, practical, and relentless in mining out the materials from Scripture and Adventist heritage that will help you and your family deal with all the conflicting ideas out there and find a way to really enjoy the Sabbath.
There is wonderful material here for a small group study or midweek meeting series. The 12 chapters each end with discussion questions. I cannot think of any question or problem related to Sabbathkeeping that I’ve heard in more than 35 years as a pastor that is not covered in this book, yet it is filled with Christ-centered grace.
I recommend a specific plan of action to get maximum mileage out of this powerful tool: Do a 12-week small group or seminar study of the book, then encourage everyone to invite interested friends to a Sabbath retreat that is planned especially to highlight the richness and blessing of the concept. Let people learn by tasting. You can get this book from your Adventist Book Center at www.adventistbookcenter.com or by calling (800) 765-6955.
Monte Sahlin is director of research and special projects for the Ohio Conference. You can suggest resources to him at [email protected] or (800) 272-4664.