Why We Project the Scripture Readings

FullSizeRender 5Earlier this year, my church began projecting the text of our scripture readings on Sundays. In our Anglican service, we have at least two readings from Scripture at each service. There are Bibles in the pews, and most people can now access a Bible on their own phone/tablet, so why project the Scripture text too?

We have at least four reasons:

1. Our international/English-as-a-second-language community has asked for it. Those who don’t speak English as their first language still really want to follow along and be engaged in our services, in English. The readings are difficult for them, because by the time they find/turn to the scripture that’s being read, it’s over! Seeing the scriptures read while they’re being projected is an immense help to those for whom the English language is still new.

2. We want people to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the scriptures as much as possible. The Bible is the “Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). The more we can get people hearing and reading the Word of God, the better. There is power in actually reading the scriptures together. Hearing them is absolutely essential. We think reading them is essential too. Besides, getting the scriptures to be readable by lay people (in their homes, much less in church services) was a pretty big part of the reformation, and we think that it’s still important today.

3. We project almost everything else in our services, except for some of the liturgy the pastor prays before communion (since it’s printed in our Liturgy Books in the pews). By not projecting the Scriptures, we might inadvertently send the signal that they’re not as important as the song lyrics, creeds, prayers, responses, etc., when, in fact, they’re more important than all of those things combined.

4. We consistently attract non-believers, or new believers. We hear reports every week of people coming to church who have never been to church before, or haven’t been in decades. Through the Alpha course, and through relationships, we are regularly seeing a smattering of people in our services every Sunday who are non-Christians and/or non-churched. They don’t know what the big numbers mean (i.e. a chapter), what the little superscript numbers mean (i.e. the verses), or when Jesus is talking, or when he’s telling a parable, or whether “the Word of the Lord” is in the Bible, or just an extra thing we add. They are complete newbies to the Bible. How wonderful! Projecting Scripture makes it accessible, more follow-along-able, and less intimidating.

We want to encourage our congregation to read along on Sundays, either in the Bibles in the pews, or on their phones/tablets, or on the screens. Or all of the above!

In the words of Thomas Cranmer:

“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

7 thoughts on “Why We Project the Scripture Readings

  1. Stephen August 9, 2016 / 4:18 pm

    These are all great points and I agree with each one, but I am confused how #2 ties into the rest. Would not wanting the lay people to “mark, learn and inwardly digest the Scriptures” and getting them to read “in their homes” imply that you would encourage them to read their own Bibles in the service and not project the text onto the screen?

    • Jamie Brown August 9, 2016 / 5:20 pm

      Hi Stephen. I suppose the hope is that, by projecting the scriptures, we are sending a signal that we don’t want people to just take our word for it. We want them to see/read the scriptures for themselves. And even if just 2% of the congregation grows in their confidence/understanding of how a certain text is laid out and structured, then that’s worth it.

  2. Adewale Odedina August 10, 2016 / 3:54 am

    Hi Jamie. I am particularly fascinated by this article because it came at a time we have decided to get a projector for our church, but the purpose is to use it in projecting Hymns during our services but not to project scriptures. I have observed over time that in churches where scriptures is being projected, most of the members especially the millennials don’t come to church with a Bible and when asked why, the response has been mainly that, they read when scriptures are projected on the screen. This is a very disturbing trend.
    How do we encourage people to get to study the Bible when the excuse for not coming to church with a Bible is that scriptures will be projected on the screen for them to read.

    Pst. Wale- from a city near Lagos, NIgeria

    • Jamie Brown August 10, 2016 / 10:45 am

      Great observations and questions. I have noticed in the last five years, that most people are now accessing their bibles during the sermon on their phones.

  3. BK August 10, 2016 / 10:01 am

    This is really interesting, because at my church, we’ve just made the decision not to project our main Bible reading before the sermon. (We usually have another reading right at the beginning, which we do project). My reasons were:

    1. To encourage my congregation to actually open and read their Bibles, and to follow along during the sermon. When I got here, less than half of my congregation were doing that, before and during the sermon. (I am also helping our church transition to genuine expository preaching)
    2. Our projections are quite big, so that at most only 2 verses at a time were being projected at a screen. I found them quite decontextualised, and wanted again to encourage our congregation to understand that every passage being read and preached had a context.

    I suspect our congregations are in quite different places! But your no. 4 is an interesting point. We don’t get too many unbelievers at the moment, but I wonder how we should cater to them…

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