Do You Bring Your Bible to Church?


Back in my Baptist days, I brought my little leatherbound ESV to church with me every Sunday, except for the days I brought my giant leatherbound ESV Study Bible.

It was part of the Baptist liturgy, so to speak: “Take your Bibles, and turn the book of John, chapter three, verse sixteen.”

We took our Bibles and turned to the book, chapter, and verse for everything: the call to worship, the reading of the full sermon passage, and every single other verse mentioned in said sermon — unless the pastor released us with the special words, “You don’t need to turn there.”

I used to follow along, adding mine to the hundreds of rustling pages. I don’t remember when I stopped, but I found I could get a different experience of Scripture by merely listening to the passage read aloud. I didn’t get lost among footnotes, for instance. But mainly, I didn’t skip down to the closest controversial passage and study the commentary’s interpretation instead of paying attention.

The habit started in college, when Sunday was my only day to sleep in, and I found myself throwing on clothes and running out the door three minutes before church started. And of course, my dorm room was always a mess, and I never could find my little ESV Bible in time. (If you actually read your Bible daily, I would shame myself, you wouldn’t keep showing up empty-handed!)

In Orthodox churches, nobody brings their Bibles except to Bible study. We stand to listen to the daily gospel and epistle, and we sing psalms and verses throughout the liturgy, but we don’t bother with turning to the chapter or verse. (In fact, the Orthodox don’t even announce the chapter and verse — just the book.)

It didn’t occur to me how different that experience is from my Baptist upbringing, until, during a Protestant sermon, I had a guy shove an iPad Bible at my empty hands. I’d forgotten this part of Baptist liturgy.

And sure enough, I scrolled to the closest controversial passage.

Do you bring your Bible to church? Do you use it during the service? I’m curious to hear!

13 thoughts on “Do You Bring Your Bible to Church?

  1. Rebekah

    Haha! It’s great that you have experiences outside the evangelical norm. I like digital bibles, but in some circles they are probably disapproved of. I would dare to suggest that printed Bibles are only about 400 years old… if we want to be dogmatic then we’d have to go back to vellum and scrolls lol.


  2. Laura

    This is an interesting post! My background is similar and I still always take my Bible to church, and look up the verses (and like you I usually check out the footnotes, etc). For people like us, who know our Bibles well, I can see the benefits of not taking our Bible – and focusing on listening. I had not thought of it that way. It is a valid point. We can make a legalistic rule here, and judge those without their Bible.

    However, I do have a concern. I know too many Christians who do not know the Bible well, at all. At times I am disconcerted at the lack of familiarity with the biblical text among regular church attenders. In my current church it is less common to bring your Bible, and I see this as part of the problem. Bringing your Bible and looking up passages helps you get familiar with not only the Bible itself, but your personal Bible. I’ve had people ask me how they can get to know the Bible better – well, bringing your Bible to church and looking up passages is a simple place to begin…

    So those are my thoughts. Good post!


    • Bailey Steger

      That’s a great thought, Laura. Now I’m wondering how much my familiarity with scripture comes from bringing my Bible to church in the past. I’m definitely at a place where I need to focus on listening to rather than studying Scripture during church, but I need to keep this in mind!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wifemotherfriendblog

    Yup! Always bring my bible and hymn book…however I rarely open either with three small children at my feet. I belong to a ” New Testament assembly” a lot like what you experienced in the baptist church. However I find without opening my bible I don’t hear a thing. Mainly because of those three little people. If I actually read the passage I am able to figure out where the sermon is going from the few snippets I do hear.


  4. Rebekah

    I pretty much always take my bible to church, but partly because it’s always in my purse anyway. I don’t often use it because we read scripture off of the screen, and my pastor has handouts that contain most of the scripture he references. I don’t need it so much. I do use it for Sunday school though.


  5. Allison Caylor

    Taking a Bible along is super helpful for me because I can easily snoop around to get a better feel for the context of what we’re studying, if that’s necessary. (In juggling my baby around during church, I usually miss the review part. :P) However, it’s so good to remember that it’s not a rule we need to hold others to.


  6. Elizabeth Erazo

    I haven’t brought it along since we started going to Mass in June, but I did purchase a pocket missal which contains all the prayers and Scripture readings for the year. I haven’t gotten the chance to use it very much due to my youngest (9 months), but I like to have it. I think I’m very tactile, in some sense. I love the kneeling, standing, and reciting of the Mass to get me physically involved, but there’s just something about holding a book in my hands, feeling the pages, etc that comforts me.

    I actually miss toting along my Bible and making marks, underlines and annotations. I’m a rabid annotate-er, even with my school work, so having that sort of “cut out” from my Sunday experience does hurt. I’ve already decided once RCIA is complete, I’m going to find an outside Bible Study to attend, because I just can’t take the lack of discussion in my Catholic Church. My previous church had a thriving Sunday school which I often enjoyed more than the service, so I’m still feeling the need to fill that hole.

    I think, in some sense, studying or reading the Bible is very sacramental for most evangelicals even if they wouldn’t describe it that way. However, I know it was the primary way I received grace in my life before moving towards Catholicism, and I don’t want to lose that. I think I haven’t quite figured out the balance yet. As a Catholic, I definitely pray better, but as an evangelical, I was more connected to the Scripture. I want to find a good balance there.


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