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UNLEASHING THE WORD Paperback – 16 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 1 Pap/DVD edition (16 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310292700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310292708
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,668,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Helps me to understand the magnificence of God's Word, and how to read it to the best advantage. It has become more meaningful and precious than ever before
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book. It highlights how we have not treated the public reading of Scripture as seriously as we ought. A great book. If you are concerned to see the Scriptures taken seriously (and to hear the Word of the Lord), read this book. It has a really helpful DVD.
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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Read it! 3 Dec. 2009
By Tim Challies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When was the last time you read a book about reading? Maybe you have read Adler's How to Read a Book or another like it. When was the last time you read a book about reading Scripture? Maybe you have read a book about how to do better personal devotions and have found there some ideas about reading Scripture in a more effective way. But when was the last time you read a book about the public reading of Scripture in the worship service? It's a pretty safe bet that you never have read such a book; only a very few exist. I was excited, then, to see Max McLean's Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture. "I want to help you learn to present the Bible in such a way that your audience can engage the Word with their heart, mind, and soul as they hear it being read aloud," he says in his introduction. "The goal is ultimately transformation--their lives will be touched and changed, just as the original hearers were."

If I had read this book a few years ago, it would have rocked my world, I think. It is only since I began attending Grace Fellowship Church that I've come to see the value of the public reading of Scripture not as a simple means to an end--a way to get us from the music to the sermon--but as an end in itself. In this church I've come to see the reading of Scripture as a core part of the teaching ministry of the church. The Word preaches; the Word is the sermon before the sermon. And if this is true, then we ought to invest effort in reading it well. This can only be the case where the reading of Scripture is given prominence within the worship service and where the person reading is talented and passionate about what he is doing. And this is what I have seen with consistency at my church. So I have seen modeled what McLean is so passionate about and can attest to the great value in treating the reading of Scripture in this way.

McLean teaches what he does under several headings. He first shares a bit of biographical information, telling how he came to know the Lord and, from there, how he came to love to read Scripture. He has, after all, begun a Scripture-reading ministry within his church; he has recorded the whole Bible several times; he has done one-man dramatic presentations of some of the books of the Bible; he continues to do a daily radio show that is nothing but the reading of Scripture. The Bible--the simple reading of the Bible--has been the core of his whole ministry.

Having shared his story, McLean offers very practical guidance on how to begin a Bible-reading ministry within the local church. This is what he wants to see: talented individuals who make it their ministry in the church to participate in the worship service by reading Scripture. His tips range from how stand before a crowd and deliver an effective reading of Scripture to how to prepare a passage to how to breath when nervous to everything in between. He then provides some teaching on how to teach others to participate in this ministry before concluding with some more practical guidance on preparation, delivery and so on. It is in all ways a practical book. I love his vision here and would rejoice to see churches adopting it.

I was not without a couple of concerns when reading the book. The foremost has to do with gender roles within the church. McLean is clear that he considers the reading of Scripture part of the church's core teaching ministry. At the same time, he considers this a task that can be performed equally by men and women. In fact, most of the examples he offers in the book are of women who participate in this ministry. It seems to me, though, that if this is a teaching ministry within the context of the worship service at a local church, then it would be most consistent with Scripture to have men being the ones who teach through reading. Without knowing McLean's views on women in ministry, I do wonder if we can have this both ways. This is an issue individual churches would want to ponder before beginning such a ministry.

So much for concerns. Unleashing the Word is narrowly-focused and that is one of its strengths. The book is almost wholly concerned with reading Scripture in worship services. Yes, McLean does dedicate a bit of attention to other contexts (such as public marathon readings of the Bible) but really, his concern is to have Christians rediscover the public reading of Scripture in the worship service and to see it as a core part of the ministry of the local church. And in this I could not agree with him more. I would love to see Christians reading this book and allowing McLean to help them rediscover a most important practice. Buy this one and read it yourself. Then pass it to your pastor and ask him to read it too.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
How to Prepare and Present the Bible Out Loud 27 Nov. 2009
By Chad Estes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Sometimes the scripture reading portion of a church service can be the most lifeless. Max McLean and Warren Bird suggest that this has very little to do with the content and mostly to do with the presentation and lack of preparation of the reader. Together they have written a new book that serves as a tool to help make the public reading of scripture a life-giving force.

McLean has made a profession out of dramatically presenting passages of the Bible both on stage and on his radio program. Bird, inspired by both McLean's presentation and incorporating his own years of church staff and seminary teaching has lent his writing skills to craft, `Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture."

The first section of the book gives the background of McClean's Bible reading experience and presentation, including his success at raising the level of thematic presentations in the church he attends in New York City. McLean seems to be more inspired to train other passionate readers in churches instead of just filling in the gap himself.

The second section presents the mechanics of good reading. Many of the tips and suggestions are not limited to just the reading of scripture on Sundays, but could be used in any speaking presentation.

The third section focuses on issues outside of the reader themselves, including pastors who may not realize that their monotone deliveries aren't really helping lead into the sermon he has prepared. Bird and McLean have several suggestions on how to nicely implement some winning strategies to this problem. This section also briefly describes the use of scripture reading outside of Sunday mornings, such as weddings, hospitals, Bible reading marathons and home devotions.

One of the strengths of the books is the resources it provides. Packaged with the book is a DVD so you can hear and see examples of what is presented in the pages. This is also accompanied by several chapters in the appendix which are designed for application.

A few times as I was reading the book I felt there was too much emphasis being placed on the performance of the scripture reader. It was obvious that McLean believes there are some people who have the skill set to read publically, and some who don't. I think the book could have benefited by having more inclusive language as well as providing more resources for those who may not make the stage with their reading, but still could benefit from reading the Bible aloud. That being said, I loved the passion that both of the authors demonstrated for the scripture, seeing it as important enough to bring creativity, craft, and spiritual discipline to. They don't see the reading of scripture as a lead in to something better, but instead should be treated as if it is the main point. If both readers and listeners were actively participating with the scripture this way, letting it speak for itself, those seeds of the Word may indeed find more fertile souls.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great treatment of a topic rarely addressed 5 May 2010
By John Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Books about reading Scripture aloud are few and far between. I certainly have never read one before now, but I sure picked a good place to start! "Unleashing the Word" has given me a new perspective on Scripture reading, whether in corporate worship, family devotionals, or private study.

The book's basic premise is that public Scripture reading has become a neglected form of corporate worship, taking a back seat to other elements such as music and preaching. From the book's introduction: "When a congregation gathers for worship, various spiritually minded people bring skill, training, and rehearsal to the music and teaching portions; why not do the same to the Scripture reading as well?"

The author, Max McLean, has made a career of bringing the Word to life through reading and reciting Scripture in an engaging way, and training others to do the same. He has memorized and "performed" large portions of the Bible as a one-man play, including the entire books of Mark, Acts, and Genesis. Many recordings of his presentations are available on YouTube and I highly recommend you check them out!

This book is exceedingly practical, offering everything from philosophical reasons for improving the quality of Scripture readings to rehearsal and breathing techniques to how to use a microphone (and get along with the sound person). At every point, though, McLean avoids coming across as overly technical or overly spiritual. Rather, he writes on a very personal level, engaging in conversation with the reader while communicating a passion for the Word of God.

One thing I certainly did not expect from this book was how many parallels it would have with facing the unique challenges of music ministry. The chapters on breathing and recruitment (for a team of readers) were particularly great in this area. At just about any point I felt like I could have replaced the word "reading" with "singing/playing" and made a direct application to the work that I do with our church's music ministry.

The real strength of this book, though, is the emphasis it places on the ministry of the public reading of Scripture. The Bible is replete with examples of this being done or commanded (Exodus 24:7; Joshua 8:35; 2 Kings 23:2; 2 Chronicles 34:30; Nehemiah 8:1-8,13:1; Jeremiah 36:10; Luke 4:16-19; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27). In Paul's first letter to his protegé Timothy, he told him, "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture" (1 Timothy 4:13), yet in most churches it seems that the Scripture reading is relegated to being merely a transition between the music and the preaching. There is no expectation of the Holy Spirit ministering to the hearts of Christians through the Word itself. Instead, we tend to "tune out" the reading, waiting for the pastor's exposition to explain it to us.

As a result, the reading tends to be flat or lifeless... a far cry from Hebrews 4:12: "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." By contrast, says McLean, a good reading will lead the congregation to "engage the Word with their heart, mind, and soul as they hear it being read aloud."

The author builds a strong case for layperson readership of Scripture during worship services. Even in situations such as in my own church, when the teaching pastor is the primary reader of the Word and does it excellently, McLean advocates what he calls the "isolation factor", which emphasizes and elevates the reading of the Word by making it a completely separate element of the service. Furthermore, since public reading and preaching rely on such different skill sets, in many cases the teaching pastor may not be the person in the congregation best suited to reading the Scripture in such a dynamic way.

The end of the book contains helpful advice for other types of public reading (weddings, family devotions, marathon reads, etc), as well as rehearsal techniques for strengthening your own abilities as a reader. A DVD is included with examples of public Scripture readings at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY, McLean's home church.

I would consider this book a "must-read" for anyone involved in preaching or worship ministry, or for those gifted in the dramatic arts, but any believer will benefit from McLean's expertise in this area.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but... 22 May 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book describes how to begin a public Bible reading program at a church. However it does not go far into the technical aspect of how to read well, such as voice quality.

Essentially the book says that the text must become internalized. To do this the reader must block the text out into individual units of meaning and read it until it makes sense. The reader is to then have a "dynamic" dialog with the audience. The closest thing to voice quality is recommendation for two different books and the "pre-hum" technique to make sure the voice resonates properly.

Very useful for STARTING a program with little on doing the voice acting that McLean is very good at...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 1 Jun. 2013
By Ashley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a wonderful read. I actually had a chance to discuss some of the book with Max McLean himself. I recommend this to any pastor, or lay person reading Scripture in the Church service.
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