My pastor always begins his Bible messages the same way: “Take the Word of God with me please and turn to…” It is a beautiful sight to see hundreds of people all opening the Word of God together! In the average church congregation fewer people are carrying their own copy of the Scriptures to public services. While it may be because less real preaching and teaching of the Word of God is being done in many places, I suspect that there are other factors at work.
“Open the Word of God” today means look at the screen on the wall or open your mobile phone and click on the Bible app. I am thankful for technology, and the discerning use of it. Still, I can’t help but wonder if something is being lost in all of the media…especially when it comes to the Word of God.
I remember when my dad took his first pastorate twenty-five years ago. I was just a teenager but I remember specific things about that critical time. There were a host of things that my dad patiently and wisely refused to change about our new church. He knew that in time the Holy Spirit would guide him and them in many areas. There was one thing that he addressed fairly soon after arriving. It seemed trivial at the time, but it wasn’t.
He removed the pew Bibles.
What could be wrong with Bibles in the pews? Nothing. But there was something better: God’s people carrying their own copy of the Scriptures. Today, the means have changed but the principle remains. Church members should carry God’s Word when they come to church.
- Carrying the Word of God serves as a testimony to others.
When believers reverently carry the Bible they send a message – God’s Word is the central thing in our worship! Not the music or the fellowship. We gather to hear God’s truth and that truth is found in the Word of God. This example should be observed by our children and learned in youth.
- Carrying the Word of God prevents distraction.
The Bible is on my phone, my iPad, and my computer. It is wonderful that we can access the Word of God anywhere we go. Why not just use those devices in the worship service? Too many distractions. Text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and a host of other things constantly clamor for attention. We hear those messages enough. When we come to church meetings the only message we need to be concerned about is the one that God has for us.
- Carrying the Word of God encourages personal Bible study.
I believe this is the most important reason. People need to get into the Word of God for themselves. When we have our own copy of the Scriptures we can mark that Bible for future reference and personal study. It is interesting that the word “Bible” literally means books. Call me old-fashion but I still love the feel of the actual book in my hand – my Bible. Each person having their own copy encourages them to follow along as the Pastor preaches and continue that study long after the church service concludes.
There is no doubt that it is more important to carry God’s Word in your heart than in your hand. Yet when the Scriptures are not near at hand they are rarely being intentionally placed in the heart! My children are already more technologically savvy than me. They use electronic devices more naturally than I. Still I hope that years from now they will continue to carry their Bible to church every week and read it every day. There is no substitute for your own copy of the Scriptures