Dangerous Reading?

Yesterday a friend and local pastor asked me if I would be interesting in reading some Scripture for the National Day of Prayer at their downtown prayer station.  Apparently, the organization he is tied to has a public, open-aired booth in the middle of downtown equipped with a prayer station and scripture reading podium.  As people can receive prayer at the booth, selected individuals outside the booth will be reading aloud from The Bible all day long.  For the time slots given to me as an option, I would either be reading from the book of Ezekiel and/or Daniel.

Unsure of what I thought about the situation, I told him I would let him know today.

Well, I decided to decline, which was a little surprising that a pastor would not read The Bible aloud in a public setting.  Feeling bad about declining, here is what I told him:

As I really like the idea of having a prayer booth for anyone walking by that would like to be prayed for, I have a hard time seeing the positive ramifications outweighing the negative ramifications of reading The Bible out loud in a public square.  Maybe if I was reading from the book of Mark or John, I would be more willing.  But to read passages of judgment from the book of Ezekiel or Daniel where you don’t have the ability to also explain the context and meaning, in my opinion, will feed into this ongoing image of the fundamental preacher standing on the street corner screaming, “Repent or Burn!”

The Apostle Paul once said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,”…and maybe this is a case of being ashamed?  Either way, this pastor will be sitting this one out on the sidelines.

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~ by Dave Smith on April 20, 2010.

10 Responses to “Dangerous Reading?”

  1. I’d have said the same thing, brother. That whole idea comes across as well-intended but awfully executed (well, at least the reading the bible aloud in public and thinking it will accomplish anything).

    How about a prayer booth in conjunction with some other types of services that might actually meed the needs of the prayer requests? Resources about Christian counseling services, representatives from job search agencies, access to food pantries, etc. That seems like a winning combo.

  2. This is a great idea. Wonder if anyone has ever tried it?

  3. author donald miller in one of his books, i think blue like jazz, had a prayer booth on a public college campus and as a person came in, donald himself confessed the sins of the church and asked the random person for forgiveness in how the church has sometimes damaged so many outsiders. thought he pulled an interesting twist.

  4. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Yes, it’s dangerous, but in an excellent way. You can’t predict what it might accomplish, but it can’t accomplish nothing!

  5. Insert quote / cliche – “God’s word never returns void.”

  6. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 anyone?!? The blog seems aptly titled…

  7. is this you dave?

  8. No, I don’t think that is me!

    I definitely thought of the verses mentioned…wondering if there is a difference in light of “teaching” context vs. a public reading context.

    Agreed God’s word never returns void…and I wholeheartedly agree that reading scripture won’t accomplish nothing! I think that is my issue…that it will accomplish something, but something that draws people more away from God than towards Him.

    I wonder if we sometimes justify the means by saying, “Well if one person comes to Christ, then it is worth it.” But if that one thing pushes 10 others away…was it really worth it?

    Just some further thoughts. Excellent pushback, and areas I have definitely considered…but still sifting through issues of proper context, balancing negative and positive ramifications, and the difference between “drive-by readings” vs. personal, one-on-one readings/teachings.

  9. “But if that one thing pushes 10 others away…”

    Well, that’s usually what happened when the apostles preached the gospel. Some believed, most turned away. It wasn’t their fault though. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor 1:18).

    Even if getting one person to repent drives ten away, is that not better than letting all eleven find hell on their own?

  10. Really good point Josh. Nothing will have 100% approval…as Jesus said in Mark 3 that men will hate us.

    I guess we all just want wisdom in using the most effective, servant-loving means to communicate the Gospel.

    I prefer Paul’s style from 1 Thessalonians 1…it seems to fit the context in my community better than an impersonal reading.

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