Response 1: Beth Schaefer
Handling the resistance to reading has two parts: lifting the burden from the role of reader by shifting the focus from who reads to the message that is being read, and learning as a membership how to love and care for its readers.
Resistance to being a reader comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the reader–the reader isn’t the Pastor … the Bible and Science and Health constitute the Pastor. Changing the focus from trying to find a reader to loving the Pastor can lift off some of the unnecessary burden placed on being a reader.
We all make time for what we love! The expectation that time is a deterrent can be reversed by changing the membership’s thought model about it. We all do love spending time with the Pastor! It enriches every aspect of our life!
The requirement that the reader “read understandingly and be well-educated” isn’t only a matter of human knowledge but also of recognizing the spiritual truth behind the words (Manual, p 32). One of the most memorable readers I heard was one who didn’t have a lot of education by the world’s standards but read with a depth that no amount of book learning could give. She had been healed by the Pastor and it was evident!
Jesus picked his disciples not because they fulfilled the world’s model of worthiness—they weren’t the intellectuals or religious leaders of his day—but because they had humble hearts willing to follow the Christ. If we are willing, God will make us able!
Lastly, the spirit with which the membership supports and selects its readers can help cultivate a receptivity to and acceptance of the position. It’s not enough to elect the reader; we need to make sure the reader has the support they need to grow and the love of the church that allows them to flourish. There is nothing that casts a pall over a service and turns away potential readers more than a spirit of criticism. Criticism is the result of receiving the Word through the material senses–looking to the reader rather than the Pastor to inspire.
As churches make room in their hearts to support the spiritual growth of their members through the love of the Pastor, we will find the position of reader being filled by willing hearts and eager readers!
Response 2: Evan Mehlenbacher
This is a classic scenario for demonstrating supply! From the premise of your question, it appears the problem is a lack of willing readers. But the greater opportunity is to demonstrate all needs of your branch church met by God, including a sufficient number of qualified members to be readers.
Paul wrote in II Corinthians, “God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others” (II Cor. 9:8, Contemporary English Version). A branch church exists to do “good things for others,” to serve its community, and to bring healing to its neighborhood. Divine Love is its basis, support, and sustenance. Divine Love provides whatever the church needs to prosper and fulfill its mission, including desire, willingness, inspiration, courage, confidence, ability, and sufficient members to serve as readers.
You can pray and know that your church is fully supplied by the abundant resources, capacities, and abilities of divine Love. There is no lack in Love. There is no shortage of time, hesitation, fear, selfishness, lack of understanding, and any excuses, complaints, worries, or doubts, in a church sustained by infinite Love.
It’s spiritually right for an active branch to have sufficient members to fill the post of reader, not because any human opinion said so, but because it completes the outward expression of church. The God-inspired Manual stipulates this as essential to conducting branch church services. Whatever vision God is responsible for creating, God follows through with support to ensure its fulfillment. Just as divine Love multiplied a scant quantity of loaves and fishes to feed thousands of hungry mouths, divine Love can multiply inspiration and desire within your membership that leads to workers ready, willing, and able to read.