"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." I Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
Paul exhorted Timothy to, among other things, make sure that public reading of scripture was taking place. Regardless of Timothy's role in the church at Ephesus, it is clear that Paul wanted the people there to be reading the bible aloud together.
We benefit from doing this as well. Why? God's word is, according to Hebrews 4:12, "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."
We did this today as a church family. Specifically, about 25 of us gathered together and read through the gospel of Matthew. We read one-by-one, with each of us completing one chapter. It took us about three hours, with two short breaks in between. Although we would have liked to discuss various passages, we decided against this for sake of time (tomorrow night at the conclusion of our evening gathering I'm going to ask if anyone would like to talk about it).
I'm not sure what I was expecting or hoping for, but this experience was fantastic. It was refreshing to sit together and just read the story, listening to it build to a climax at the end. When we reached the resurrection, I found myself quietly weeping with joy. The ending of the book took on such meaning since the account built through 28 chapters and three hours.
It was additionally encouraging because we did it together. I'm sure I would enjoy and benefit from reading through Matthew on my own. This, however, was far superior. I loved listening to other saints, ages 11 to 72, read aloud. We read at different speeds and ability levels, but none of that mattered. What mattered was that we were all enjoying the gospel and being built up in our faith together. Everyone seemed to be edified by what took place. Several folks said we should do it again.
I've never done this before - reading through one of the longer books of the bible with my church family. It was wonderful. In light of what happened today, I'm sure we will do it again.
I highly encourage you to do this with your church family.