Getting words off the page.

72% of American adults have read part or all of a book in the last twelve months. That’s according to a recent report from Pew Research. Which suggests that some people aren’t readers. So when people say “I have a hard time fitting Bible reading into my schedule”, they may really mean, “I don’t read books much at all.”

doorIt’s easy to judge, I suppose. But three of the next ten adults you see may not have read a book in the last year. They may be intelligent, thoughtful, caring, compassionate people who gather information, encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom through other means. Or they may not be able to read.

Further, the research question asked about “books you have read all or part of.” Some more of those ten people you see may not have read reflectively, or read enjoyably, or read willingly.

So when we as church people encourage people to read the Bible, we are may be creating a sense of obligation which doesn’t fit with how people process the world.

But there may be alternatives.

What, for example,  if you listened to the book of Mark? Max McLean is more than willing to read the whole book to you.

What if  you printed out a page and read it like a blog post? You can go to Mark 1 and look for the print icon above the text. Print it, stick it in your pocket, and pull it out while waiting for the soccer game to start (or the DVR to get to your favorite show.)

What if you had a friend tell you stories? A few years ago, I told some stories. Like John 1:35-51 where Jesus calls some disciples.

There are probably more ways to hear the Bible without having to read the book if you are not a book person.

What would you suggest?

8 thoughts on “Getting words off the page.

  1. Gary Mintchell

    Good thoughts, Jon. Those of us who live in a world of reading and writing need the reminder. I had read something many years ago that I’ve tried to use. The article pointed out there are two kinds of bosses (could insert anyone here)–those who take in information visually and those who take in information through hearing. Write memos to the one and go talk to the other.

    It may be difficult to listen to the Bible, but I’m sure there would be some on Audible. I like to listen to good communicators who teach on passages from the Bible. It is a refreshing counterpoint to living in reading all the time.

    Perhaps we who wish to communicate should learn to tell the Bible stories. From memory. Told like a story. Telling Jesus’ stories would somewhat re-create the original, don’t you think?


    1. Jon Swanson

      Gary, I agree completely with the idea of learning and telling stories. It’s part of what I do in the video. There is a lot of “Bible storying” happening in preliterate cultures, but I think that it works well in any culture.


    2. danieljohnsonjr

      Hi Gary. I’ve been more of an auditory learner and have been grateful to listen to podcasts of sermons and have been a listener to the Daily Audio Bible since June 2009. I think it also works well for when you want to listen while taking a walk, drive, or anywhere else where you have to keep your eyes in front of you.

      It’s encouraging that, just as the printing press brought the Word of God into written form with a much wider distribution, so now the new technologies of our age can do the same.


  2. josephruizjr

    I like using a Bible reading plan on my ipad. I play the audio and follow along the combination helps me stay focused. The plan helps with where do I start and what should I read. For example I am now reading the Gospels in a month plan. It sends reminders and makes adjustments if you fall behind. I use You Version but there are others. Thanks.


    1. danieljohnsonjr

      Hi Joseph! I, too, like having a reading plan because it helps answer the question, “what should I read today?” I’ve often found a serendipity and harmony in what I’m reading and what is happening in life when I’ve read/listened.


  3. Pingback: Letting the page work on us. | 300 words a day

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