Reading and studying the Bible together
As a pastor who ministers on a council estate, one of the most common questions I am asked is, ‘How do you teach the Bible to those who cannot read?’ and people are often surprised by the fact that it is estimated that only 1% of the UK adult population is illiterate. So this means that the majority of people who we meet, evangelise and disciple will have a basic ability to read.
However, if and when we do come to teach the Bible to somebody who struggles to read, we do it exactly the same as when we are teaching the most avid of readers.
We give, pray, read and explain
We give everybody a Bible so that we all have the same version. When somebody is learning or struggling to read, hearing different versions read out loud will cause confusion. I go for the NIV 2011 because it flows really well and reads the same as we speak.
We pray because the Bible is only understood when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:14).
We read and encourage others to read with us, because the Bible is to be studied personally and in community (Nehemiah 8:8). Our Bible studies are multi-generational, and we read the Bible out loud and invite those who are confident enough to read a verse each. Most weeks people will make a mistake, so when those less confident see that you don’t have to read perfectly and that the kids are brave enough to join in, it gives them the confidence to eventually join in too.
We explain, illustrate and apply the Word of God exegetically in our Bible studies and sermons so that people understand what God is saying and how they need to respond.
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read (Nehemiah 8:8)
I have discipled people of all reading abilities, including children, people with disabilities, school dropouts and doctors and what every Christian has in common is a love for Jesus and a love to learn more about him through reading his word.