Why Your Church Should Practice “Responsive Readings”

This past week I led the church I pastor in what is called a “responsive reading.”  I want to tell you why this is helpful and healthy thing to do regularly in your church, and what exactly a responsive reading is.

Why do this at all?  Some people hear a responsive reading and immediately get all awkward and hate it because they think they’re doing something that hasn’t been done in 1000’s of years!  Other people do not like the feel of a traditional worship service, which responsive readings can be a major part of.  This is a normal response of modern man.  BUT, I believe churches should always strive to be relevant to come alongside modern man to help.  How is the best way to be relevant?

Not by reinventing the truth, remaking the truth, or remodeling truth, but by remembering the truth that has stood for ages.

Now what is a responsive reading?  A responsive reading is just that – a congregational reading where a congregation responds together in affirmation/denial of a certain doctrine/truth.  This can be done in many forms and many fashions.  It can be done in the model of question and response where the pastor or leader poses the question himself while the congregation responds audibly afterwards answering the question.  This works well with ancient catechism’s such as the Heidelberg Catechism, Westminster Confession, London Confession, or the Belgic Confession because they are already in question and answer formats.  It can be done in the model of reading together in unison.  This works well when using ancient creeds like the Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, or Chalcedonian Creed because these are shorter and can be said together rather easily.  It can be done in a back and forth manner, where a certain passage of Scripture or lengthy piece of writing is chosen.  The pastor or leader can easily put headings on the readings to differentiate who is to speak when.  There are many ways to do this.  I’ve done all three and have enjoyed them all.

One word of aid to those of you who are thinking about doing this.  Be creative!  I’ve used a rap song from Shai Linne before as a responsive reading (“In Adam all Die”) and those present that Sunday absolutely loved it.  With that said, be creative.  Use things that are not normally used to keep things new and un-traditional.  But be cautious, in choosing what to say together realize that your church will be affirming something in unison, make sure it is spot on Biblical.  If it’s not, you’ve got bigger problems than finding a new way to do a historic part of worship.

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