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Responsive Readings - Mindless? Meaningful?

Carolla

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So - this came up today on fb .... what do you think? I know my church uses a responsive reading format quite a lot; along with unison prayers, responsive psalms etc. I've often found them irritating ... now I see more clearly why they rub me the wrong way sometimes.

Are responsive readings part of your church services? How do feel about being given words to say? Do you just recite, or pause to ponder then say (or possibly decline to say) what's written? Just curious.

For those crafting services - what is it that you see as the purpose of responsive items within the service?

 

Northwind

Still knitting. Walking the path to health.
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I love this. I was thinking about how things have changed over the years. I couldn't remember if we did responsive readings in my most recent church. I think a small amount. @GordW could answer better.
 

Redbaron

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I thought this was hilarious. We usually use a responsive call to worship, and a few sung responses to prayers and offering. I never thought of them as an opportunity to put words in people's mouths... I guess too busy trying to find a way to get thoughts into people's minds, and motivations into people's hearts...
 

Mendalla

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First off, that is likely satirizing UUs as much as it is responsive readings. There's also a joke in UU circles about how UUs read ahead in the hymns to decide which lines to sing.:D

I have been known to use responsive readings but they tend to be either alternating verses (e.g. opening words where the leader reads a verse, congregation reads a verse, and so on) rather than a call-response format or simple responses ("We give thanks" or whatever) to affirmations (see the responsive grace I wrote in another thread).

I agree that the kind that "puts words in people's mouths" is problematic depending on how it is done but that is true of unison readings, too, really.
 

Mendalla

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I think part of the solution, by the way, is not to use "we" type language. A responsive reading like:

Reader: For God so loved the world
Response: That God gave his son to save it.​

Shouldn't be a problem, or less so than when responsive readings have "we" or "you" language.

Reader: In a harsh and broken world
Response: We are harsh and broken people​

Is essentially forcing someone to confess something about themselves that they may, or may not, accept. I can see where that's a problem, though the message might be needed sometimes. Definitely, the reader should not be using "you", which somehow excludes themselves from whatever is being said. Any confession should include all.
 

Jae

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We never used to do responsive readings at my church in Toronto.

At my church in Suwon, it's our practice to do a responsive reading of the passage of Scripture the pastor's going to preach on. I think it's a good way to involve everyone in reading Scripture, help us to remember it, and prime us for the sermon.

I do enjoy listening to a reading though when it's well read by a single reader. Some people I've heard have a great knack for reading, being as dramatic as they need to be, not overdoing it, not giving a flat read.
 

Carolla

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I do enjoy listening to a reading though when it's well read by a single reader. Some people I've heard have a great knack for reading, being as dramatic as they need to be, not overdoing it, not giving a flat read.
I do agree, and the manner of reading makes a big difference to me too. Not hurried, effective tone & inflection, thoughtful pauses etc. for me stimulates thoughtful reflection, rather than someone who sounds like they're just trying to get to the finish line or hurries along to the next before I've had any chance to consider what is being stated. I wish ministers & lay liturgists would take some drama or toastmaster's training if such things don't come naturally to them ... hello M&P committees!
 
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BetteTheRed

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In our congregation, we have a person, an ex officio member of the Worship Team, who 'organizes' the lay readers. Happens to be me, and has been for a long time. When I inherited the role, I was given to understand that the rules are, if you volunteer, we accept you. Means that the 'talent' I have available is extremely uneven. Best I can do, when making up the schedule, is to schedule the worst readers for services with the potential for lowest attendance, i.e. mid-summer...
 

revjohn

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Congregations are funny creatures.

Some really do well with responsive readings, others not so well.

Part of the problem is language and Mendalla points out. The other part is ability (and this is not just a concern for those who struggle with literacy) it is a struggle for those who do not read aloud. There is nothing more grating than listening to a crowd reading the same piece without any hint of emotion or variation in tone. Sure they get the right word at the right time. So much wasted effort. Might as well be reading a recipe for the blandest of all possible foods.
 

BetteTheRed

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And if you're reading from screens, not the bulletin, not some little part is due to the talent of both the slide-preparer and the slide-changer. I had a tricky bit to do Christmas Eve feeding lines via the back projector to monologue-ists (four different ones, different ages, different preparedness, different number of words ahead in the text, etc.)
 

Carolla

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In our congregation, we have a person, an ex officio member of the Worship Team, who 'organizes' the lay readers. Happens to be me, and has been for a long time. When I inherited the role, I was given to understand that the rules are, if you volunteer, we accept you. Means that the 'talent' I have available is extremely uneven. Best I can do, when making up the schedule, is to schedule the worst readers for services with the potential for lowest attendance, i.e. mid-summer...
So true - and yes, I get it it that to be inclusive is important too - so finding a match for 'gifts' and needs is important. I do wonder how many might accept an opportunity for coaching if offered.
 

GordW

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I love this. I was thinking about how things have changed over the years. I couldn't remember if we did responsive readings in my most recent church. I think a small amount. @GordW could answer better.
What counts as a Responsive REading? Most of our liturgy is (Call to Worship, Opening Prayer, Prayer for Grace, Commissioning, Communion Liturgy) in my mind a Responsive Reading
 

Luce NDs

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Congregations are funny creatures.

Some really do well with responsive readings, others not so well.

Part of the problem is language and Mendalla points out. The other part is ability (and this is not just a concern for those who struggle with literacy) it is a struggle for those who do not read aloud. There is nothing more grating than listening to a crowd reading the same piece without any hint of emotion or variation in tone. Sure they get the right word at the right time. So much wasted effort. Might as well be reading a recipe for the blandest of all possible foods.
The pain of halved mine reading? Irresponsible or emotionally irrational if read in conflict to despotic directives?

Adepts thus go astray as disposable members ... thus hang-ups in rigid belief systems ... before the stone wailed ...

May be substituted with a Basalt Bull ... nothing left but the caldron ... GEO logical depression!
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Responsive reading is one reason , I can no longer go back to a regular United church service after having been at the Quakers for two years. For the above reason- it puts words in your mind and mouth that might fit in the overall flow of how the worship is planned but has nothing to do with where the people present are. I went to the longest night service to my old church before Christmas and if it hadn’t been for the time