The Times had an interesting piece, “The Joy of Reading out loud” (sat Oct 2 2010). In it they talk about the Initiatives of The reader Organisation started by Jane Davies in Liverpool. Here’s an extract,
Davies found that reading aloud is the best way to get people into books and then she discovered that it makes people calmer, happier, self-reflective, more sane and open-minded. She found that her method works in retirement homes, with abused children, with kids who have never read a thing, with prisoners, with people on council estates and with NHS patients.
“We were reading Othello out loud with a group who had never read or seen a Shakespeare play. After a few weeks a woman said, “I’ll read Iago this week. I know that bastard. I was married to him.”
I realise that many of us are doing Gospel work in areas of low literacy, but please don’t take that as resistance to literacy. I have never met anyone in Speke who struggled with reading who didn’t actually wish they could read better. The issue is how we make efforts to make text more accessible to those who have often been scared off by it. As I read the quote above I was encouraged to come up with simple and creative ways to get people into the text of the bible.
- Enourage reading out loud
- Enourage people to have a go at reading different parts
- Ask good questions about what is said, how it is said and why it is there
The Lord knew what He was doing when He gave us a written word. Can I encourage you to have confidence that the written Word of God is made to engage with the hearts of men.
An example: Last year I preached through Hosea (yes, that OT minor prophet). A lady who had just started coming to church asked me for a bible so she could read the story for herself. She didn’t have an O-level, she didn’t have a bookshelf, she’d never worked and had 7 kids by 2 fellas. The day after i gave her the bible I tentatively asked whether she’d read the 1st chapter of Hosea, and to my astonishment she had read through the whole book.
“What is it about?” i asked.
“Its showing us that God is faithful even when His people aren’t. I know all about unfaithfulness and how God must feel.”
God’s written Word is powerful and people aren’t as stupid as you think, don’t shy from getting it into peoples’ hands.