Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hymnals & Pew Bibles, Part 7

Based on the lackluster response to my last post, either few of you are doing any family reading OR few of you are even reading "life together" any more. But I will plow on. . . .

I know that the folks of Grace are interested and passionate about Hymnals & Pew Bibles since that series generated the most response of any series to date. Some of you have been asking, "What's up with the pew Bibles? Which version and when?"

My goal was to get the Bibles ordered before the end of the fiscal year, May 31, 2005. After a long struggle, much research and much discussion, I was ready to jump to the English Standard Version, having concluded it was an excellent word-for-word translation, but generally considered more readable than the NAS. (Why is a word-for-word translation important? Start here!) Given our ongoing desire to be "missional", this was the unanimous recommendation of our ministry staff.

Just before placing the order, I thought it might be wise to run the decison by the elders one more time. Boy, I'm glad I did! We had discussed the issue at a much earlier meeting and I had come away with the impression that they were fine with whatever the ministry staff recommended. Not so.

Quite a firestorm ensued. As it turns out, several of the others had never even heard of the ESV. (I guess they aren't reading "life together"?) Some were concerned we were hopping on the ESV bandwagon too early. Others were concerned the the congregation was going to be confused with three versions in front of them (NIV in pews, NAS used in services and now the ESV?).

Anyway, we had a fantastic discussion and came to a unified decision and what I think is a great compromise. We are getting good at spirited, open, honest discussions that lead to unified decisions. I love these men and watching them work and God work. So here's what we came up with. . . .

1. We will purchase NAS pew Bibles now, though not as many as we had planned to purhase. We will explain why we chose the NAS at the present time.

2. We will also introduce the ESV as an emerging translation that we are watching with interest and curiousity. We will encourage the congregation to join us in the exploration process. We will share the possibility of moving to the ESV down the road.

3. As a way of exploring the ESV together as a congregation, we will begin using the ESV on certain occasions, in certain places in the worship service (for example in the call to worship, where the Scripture is printed and/or projected).

4. All readings where folks have their Bibles open, will be done from the NAS with referenced page numbers. Yahoo!

5. Oh yeah, we will leave a few hymnals in the pews for the time being. (Some of you are going to be really happy with that decision!)

I think this is a good compromise, because it takes one version (NIV) out of the picture for now. It also gets us on same page now and eliminates the discontinuity that currently exists in our services. But it also leaves us room to keep exploring this issue and sets the table for possible change down the road at a later date.

We hope to order NAS pew Bibles in the next week or so.

So what do you think?


Tim Weaver said...

Sounds like a good plan since I just moved back to NAS to read what you are using.

Anything come of the idea of having Bibles that people can take them with them if they don't have one? (Maybe I missed it.)

I'm happiest about this statement: "We are getting good at spirited, open, honest discussions that lead to unified decisions." That seems very healthy to me. I have had no reason to suspect division in the leadership at Grace, but reading this means that everyone isn't just united because they don't entertain other points of view. Obviously opposing points of view are being brought up and discussed and a united decision is being made.

Praise the Lord

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Yep, Tim, we're going to give them away on a continuous basis. I'll show you how in a future post!

Peter Bogert said...


I started preaching from the ESV in January. We don't have pew Bibles, but I provided an opportunity for our people to purchase hardcover ESV reference Bibles at about $12 a pop. We had 40 people buy them. We have no unilaterally used translation (We used the NIV in preaching for the previous 8 years), so there is no official version for our church. But people seem to like the ESV, and that helped move us a notch toward people using what I am preaching from.

Vivian Wheeler said...

I was introduced to the ESV when our daughter began attending the church where Bill Mounce (NT chairman of the translation oversight committee for the ESV)is pastor. We have had the privilege to sit under Dr. Mounce's teaching a number of times and have a great deal of respect for his authority on scripture.

We were also introduced to John Piper by our daughter as she has been to a number of his conferences back in Minnesota in conjunction with an internship program she is involved in at her church. As you have stated in previous posts, John Piper also highly recommends the ESV version.

Based on the authority of these men and others that sat on the translation committees I do believe it to be a very good translation. All three of my grown children have this translation and I am interested in obtaining one for myself.

I would agree with the steps you are using to introduce the ESV to the congregation. Praise God for the wisdom and willingness of the Elders to discuss openly and Biblically the issues of the church.

One last thing...Thank you for the Hymnals. It saddened me to think that the opportunity to sing 4 part harmony from the pews would be gone.


Helen V. said...

Sounds like a great decision all around. Glad to see the hymnals will also still be available.

By the way, keep plugging away on your blog, it is a great way for the congregation to know what is going on in the church and some of your thoughts on things outside of the pulpit. I am sure more people are reading it than you imagine. Have you ever thought of putting a counter on it?

Lisa said...

I am glad to see the progression from NIV to NAS (my personal favorite) with the possibility for a future change. Change is usually hard to embrace but good for us not to become dependent or complacent, and moves us to further rely on the Lord as we step into a new endeavor. I do have a comment on hymnals though. It is a shame we do not reference them more. I learned to read music from the hymnal as a small child. Since music is not an integral part of public education any more it seems we could be aiding in the future by putting the written music in front of people again.

Megan said...

Hi Pastor Tim - I am glad to know that the hymnals (or some of them) will be staying. I love to read them as I sing. There's this really cool connection between believers from before and believers now. I can't quite explain it. The power point is really great but the hymnal is personal. Hope we never get totally rid of them. Thanks :)

Amy Kardel said...

If we want families to refit their libaries (for our family, for example, have bought 6 NIVs in the last year) it would be great if we could find a way to bulk purchase NASs for a price that encourages broad distribution. Also, the memorization program through Awana draws from the NIV, right? Should this be reconsidered? Or at least explained in Sunday School. A lesson on translation for the kids will be important. I think young minds will be slightly confused that there is more than one translation.

Lara Nichols said...

I really like the idea that the scripture reading and the pew bibles will both be the same traslation!!

I also love your idea of referencing the page number of the reading so that those unfamiliar with the books of the Bible find the passage quickly and can read along with the rest of the congregation.