Your Pew Will Look Different This Sunday
I remarked to someone this past week that there’s only one sin I endorse as a pastor: stealing a Bible from our pews. I said this tongue in cheek, but the truth is that it’s hardly a loss when someone takes a copy of God’s Word home for themselves. In fact, over the years the number of Bibles in our pews has dwindled. And the Bibles that are in our pews are getting well worn (this is good too, by the way). To complicate things a bit, the version of Scripture that we’ve used (the 1984 translation of the NIV) is no longer in print, so we can’t purchase copies to replenish our supply that would match our current Bibles. What’s a church to do?
With all that in mind, we realized that it might be time to completely swap out the Bibles in the pews with new ones. But which translation of the Bible should we choose? The NIV is a great Bible – a very readable and accessible translation. But when it comes to study and personal reflection, the translation your pastors tend to reach for the most is the ESV. When we’ve done careful study, we’ve found that the ESV does an excellent job of retaining the grammar and meaning of the original text, while still retaining a relatively smooth and readable English text. It’s an elegant translation, and one fitting of the high value for Scripture we have at Chapel Hill. If you’re interested in learning more about the ESV, feel free to read this essay by Kevin DeYoung on why his church switched from the NIV.
So this Sunday, you will find shiny new Bibles in the pews. I pray that they find as much use in worship, and in homes, as the Bible’s they replace, if not more. But we also want to make sure that if you don’t have your own study Bible, you have the opportunity to purchase one. We will have a limited amount of copies of the ESV Study Bible available for purchase at the Connect Center (though you can always buy them online too). Again, this study Bible has been a great resource to your pastors, with excellent commentary, maps, and articles included.
There will also be an opportunity to help us pay for these Bibles by donating toward a book plate. These book plates will go in the Bible with the name of a loved one, living or deceased, who you’d like to acknowledge. The elegant book plate will go inside the front cover of a pew Bible and say, simply, “This Bible provided in gratitude for the witness of ______” with the name provided by a donor. I think it’ll be really special for us to have pew Bibles filled with the names of saints, people who’ve given witness by their lives to the truth of God’s Word. For more information on this, see the envelope in your bulletin this weekend.
If you’re interested in using an ESV digitally, you can access it online at www.esvbible.org. You can also download a really well done ESV Bible app on your phones by going to www.esv.org/mobile/ Both of these digital resources are completely free.
By the way, please do not hear in our move to the ESV that you should toss your NIV Bible out the window. As English speakers, we have an embarrassment of riches in regards to the wealth of translations available to us. In the end, there are very, very few Bible translations not worth reading, and most translations accomplish what God intended for them: to tell us about Jesus, the Word made flesh. But for our church, we believe the ESV may help us understand that best. I hope you’ll agree.
P.S. If you attend our Saturday Night Worship service, we have a special treat. Pastor Bill will be installed as an Associate Pastor! Not too long ago the congregation voted him into that position, and now we get to celebrate and recognize that as a body. I hope you’ll come.