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Spoken Word

Spoken Word, or more specifically Christian Spoken Word, is an oral form of Bible engagement utilising free form or slam poetry. Popular with millennials, it integrates word play, beat, reiteration, voice inflection, hip-hop, modulation, music, prose monologues, or even comedy, to present/perform the Word.

While Spoken Word is a form of poetry, there are four elements that differentiate it from other forms of poetry: It’s written for performance, the themes are biblical, it should be challenging and should involve some acting.

Performed, biblical and challenging. “The ‘blessed are the underdogs’ message of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount – had it been filmed for YouTube – would certainly have gone viral. Particularly if he’d performed it in rhyme. Jesus was all about new messages in new ways – speaking from boats and atop mountains and from his friends’ living rooms – and always with an epistle intended to make his congregation think about the accepted status quo.” Spoken Word Applied to the Word – Premier.

So what are some of the basics of Spoken Word? My daughter, Christie Warren, writes, performs and teaches Spoken Word. I learnt the following at one of her workshops:

  • involves rhythm and repetition that produces a “flow”
  • can be set against a musical background
  • presentation should be dramatic
  • words should be emphasized to bring a focus to the theme
  • there should be a clear message that invokes a response
  • can utilize visual images
  • it’s not a rigid form of poetry
  • it’s not necessary to follow grammatical rules
  • be creative!
  • can be presented in a church service, as a street drama, or in any suitable public forum

“Oh Taste and See” by Christie Warren

O taste and see that the Lord is good.

Hmm…to taste

In haste

Would be a waste

Of the sweetness of His words

Or so I’ve heard

And see, apparently,

They’re sweeter than honey

And more desirable than gold

Or so I’m told.

But if you have truly tasted of the kindness of the Lord

It’ll surely strike a chord

And certainly afford

The opportunity to become

The salt of the earth.

For one cannot simply taste

And not wanna chase

Change pace

About face

Run the race

While fixing one’s eyes on Jesus

And see





See that He is good

No other thought will do

No other can be true

So how can we continue

To live our lives this way

When He’s shifted our perspective

When everything has changed

How can we put up this facade

And play with full bravado

And silently just plod, plod, plod

Through this life?

We can’t

End rant

We have to take a stand

We have to actually be His feet and hands.

For when we taste and when we see

We’re changed eternally

And I, for one, can’t simply let that be

Join me?

And here’s one for you to watch:


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© Scripture Union Canada 2016

2 Corinthians 4:5

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Synthetic Study of the Bible

Have you ever read a book of the Bible through in one sitting, repeatedly and continuously until you have a thorough grasp of the outline, main themes, and important details?

One of the requirements for my seminary students in the Bible Engagement – Encountering the Bible in a Life Changing Way class was to read the book of Titus once through, every day, for seven consecutive days. They had to read it in the same version, without the use of commentaries or guides, uninfluenced by chapter/verse designations, and in prayerful reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Reading each book of the Bible as a whole is called the synthetic study of the Bible. It’s so named because it majors on synthesis (combining into a coherent whole) as distinct from analysis (separating into constituent elements). To use a metaphor, it’s not about inspecting each tree in the forest, it’s about viewing the forest from above and seeing how the trees are an interconnected ecosystem.

The benefits of the synthetic study of the Bible includes the following:

  • it helps one experience the force of the book in its entirety
  • it builds understanding of a book as it relates to the other books of the Bible
  • it develops interpretive skills
  • it enlarges and strengthens mental vision and faith
  • it facilitates a mastery of the book being read, i.e., helps one retain it
  • it majors on repetition, and repetition is a great teacher
  • it helps one see “the beauty of the whole forest”
  • it compels one to rely on the Holy Spirit for insight and understanding
  • it fuels introspection that leads to conviction, prayer and life change

There are many other benefits. My seminary students journaled their synthetic Bible study experiences and some of their insights are captured in the comments below:

“I think after reading it a few times you notice little nuances and I just want to sit and stew over every verse” Dariusz Ciolek.

“I’m starting to take better note of Paul’s flow of thought …” Josh Bryant.

“I found myself convicted by what Paul writes.” Katherine Brouwer.

“On the first day I read it like a school text … as a theological student … trying to find critical issues … and I got stuck. On the second day I realised I was not a student … On the third day I was laughing … interacting personally with the text … On the fifth day the reading helped me think about my past life … and how God can change the entirety of my life.” Anmol Khadka.

“I grasped the main theme and the important details. I also had many insights and better understood the structure, teaching and importance of what Paul wrote in the letter.” Belinda Lam.

Do you long to really dig into God’s Word – to read the Bible in a way that helps you become very familiar with it? Wayne Davies started the synthetic study of the Bible by reading the shorter books of the New Testament repeatedly, in one sitting, and “was blown away by the impact it had on my understanding. It really worked!”

So why not try it for yourself?

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Recommended Resources

James M. Gray, How to Master the English Bible

Wayne Davies, The Forgotten Bible Reading Method: How to Read and Understand the Bible in 5 Simple Steps.

Woodrow Kroll, Read Your Bible One Book at a Time

Scott Bolinder, Paul Caminiti, Alex Goodwin, Glenn Paauw, Institute for Bible Reading

© Scripture Union Canada 2016

2 Corinthians 4:5

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