Introduction to Readers Theater

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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I sometimes include readings with the Bible study lessons. They are scripted, usually for three readers, and can be read with little preparation except for an initial practice run-through. In general, Reader 1 usually has the theme parts and Readers 2 and 3 are supportive, so the strongest reader should be given the Reader 1 part.

The readings are based on the New International Version (NIV) Bible, © 1973, 1978, 1983 by the International Bible Society. In addition to the NIV text, I have repeated key phrases, and sometimes included synonyms or contemporary thoughts to amplify and emphasize the key points. I know this may offend some people, though that is not my intent. I have a great reverence for scripture.

My goal has been that when the group or congregation hears the scripture read in this way the main points will stick, and they will be better prepared for the sermon or Bible study.

These readings are ready to use. Print three (and in a few cases four) copies of the reading on your printer. Highlight each reader with a yellow highlighter so the readers don't get confused about when their part comes.

Here are some of the ways you can use these readings.

  • Family devotions (including each family member)
  • Table readings before dinner
  • Small group studies
  • Replacing a responsive reading in a worship service

I've used these readings in our own church and found them to be a very effective way to involve others of all ages in the service, and to help our people understand the meaning of the text in preparation for the sermon. Use them in whatever way you see fit.

I first learned about this approach to scripture reading from Barry Liesch, author of People in the Presence of God: Models and Directions for Worship (Zondervan, 1988).


Copyright © 2019, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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