Out loud.

I read a lot. I’ve been reading a lot since I learned how to read. It’s the way that I am most likely to gather information. More likely than asking questions, more likely than experimenting.

I almost never read out loud. I say “almost” for three reasons. First, when I started reading, I read out loud. Second, when our kids were little, we read all the time. (Favorite kids book is, no question, Owl Moon.) Third, when I want to help people understand the Bible as writing with breath, I have a group read out loud.

I mentioned this idea a couple weeks ago when I was describing a Bible study which started their study by reading 2 Timothy. I had a group do it in real life when we started studying James. But the most challenging reading project I’ve done recently was when I read the letter to the Colossians out loud as half of a sermon.

I shared the intro to that sermon a couple weeks back. After I set the scene, I started to read the letter as if I were Tycicus reading to the people gathered in the house. I read the whole letter.

I watched people start to follow along in their Bibles, then finally look up and just listen. It slowed our reading from the speed of light to the speed of breathing. When we read, we skim, we jump, we skip. When we hear someone read, we get inflection and pauses, we hear connections between ideas that we might otherwise miss. When we hear a whole letter in 14 minutes, we understand that the one phrase we often pounce on is in a larger context. We hear ideas unfold. We hear.

Even when we are the only ones in the room, when we read out loud, we read differently.


I first published this in 2015. I thought about it recently when I talked with a friend who read 2 Corinthians out loud to her cat several years ago. I’m not sure the cat learned anything, but my friend is living out that text in remarkable ways.