I came across Tim’s blog in 2005 when I was doing some research for our recording of Martin Luther’s Here I Stand. The day I connected with Tim, he told me that he had just that day started listening to John’s Gospel from the ESV version of the Listener’s Bible that we had recently published. Not long after that he interviewed me for this blog.
Last month I released a book with DVD titled Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture. I co-authored it with my friend and colleague in ministry, Warren Bird, who has collaborated on 21 books, several of them award winning.
Zondervan recommended Challies.com as a community that may be interested in this new book. Given our previous relationship, I heartily agreed and am pleased to submit this brief testimonial.
The purpose of the book is to inspire and instruct people — both pastors and lay readers — how to elevate the public reading of the Bible to a more honored and anticipated moment in our worship services.
As my pastor, Tim Keller, at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City wrote in his endorsement of the book, “In most church services, the reading of the Word is poorly and hurriedly done. What a missed opportunity! Max’s book will help your church restore this neglected worship practice. There’s nothing else like it.”
In many ways this book is a compilation of a lifetime of work. It is story based, drawing from my experiences with my reading team at church, where I have led the Scripture reading ministry since 2002. The book is also informed from various other contexts where I have coached other readers, or been coached myself.
My life’s calling is to recapture the rich oral tradition of telling classic Christian literature with insight and appropriate dramatic expression. I do that with the Bible, having recorded three translations available on Bible Gateway and as speaker on the radio program, Listen to the Bible, which airs daily on nearly 700 radio affiliates worldwide. In the past year 45,000 people have experienced my live performances of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters or Mark’s Gospel, a one-man retelling of the entire gospel from memory. That production was recently awarded Chicago theatre’s coveted Jeff Award for Best Solo Performance in 2009.
Warren, as Director of Intellectual Capital and Research at The Leadership Network, interfaces with hundreds of pastoral leaders annually to consider best practices for church growth. Given his wide experience with many congregations, and my unique experience in oral interpretation, we believe that Scripture reading can be elevated from one of the more perfunctory, least-engaged moments, to one of the most meaningful and powerful moments in worship.
The book, written at a very readable level and with helpful graphics, aims to be personal, practical and not technical. A key emphasis is how to internalize your assigned scripture text in your own heart and spirit, in order to ignite a passion and conviction that will communicate meaningfully to your congregation.
To give you a taste, I’ve taken the liberty of listing the chapter titles, as they give the arc and story of the book:
My Story (Part 1)
1. How I Got Started Reading Scripture Aloud
2. Recruiting Others Who Love the Game
3. No Longer the Worst Moment
4. The 9 Percent Isolation Factor
Butterflies and Breathing (Part 2)
5. How to Sound Like You
6. From the Page to the Stage
7. Take a Breath–It Even Helps with Nervousness
8. Quick-Start Guide to Reading the Bible Aloud
How to Teach Others (Part 3)
9. Train Your Pastor to Read the Bible Better–Really!
10. Invite Youth and Children to Make Scripture Come Alive
11. Scripture Reading at Home, at Weddings, and More
Next Steps (Part 4)
12. What to Do Next
13. Q&A with Max McLean
A. Things You Might Say before or after Reading
B. How I Prepare a Scripture Reading
C. Suggested Texts for Practice
D. Discussion Questions for Accompanying DVD
E. Resources Available from Max McLean
Since so much of this type of instruction is “more caught than taught” we’ve included a DVD that can be used for individual or class settings. It includes several compelling readings from members of my church’s Scripture reading team as well as a brief commentary in which I describe what I find to be particularly effective about each one. There’s also a panel discussion about how to pick readers as a church develops a Scripture reading team.
I believe that this unique book with DVD has the potential to help many churches experience God’s Word during worship in fresh, compelling ways. That is certainly my prayer.
In addition, you are able to purchase Unleashing the Word for 50% off at Zondervan through November 22nd when you purchase for your ministry. Go to www.zondervan.com/ministry, log in or register, search for Unleashing the Word and add it to your cart. In your cart enter source code 020085, click apply changes and finish checking out.