Some chap somewhere has said that in 5 years you’ll be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people that you meet. Though, I think a tad simplistic I do believe that in 5 years you will be shaped by what you have read (or did not read).
Call me a nerd all you want, but I am a firm believer that it is very beneficial for a pastor to cultivate a reading culture within the community that he influences. Consider these words from Mark Dever:
Without knowing it I have actually put many of these things into practice in the church where I currently serve as an associate pastor. With a much help from Mark Dever here are the Top 7 ways to create a reading culture in your church.
1. Read yourself. How are you going to know what to recommend if you don’t read a bunch yourself?
2. Give away books any chance you can. Every Sunday evening I give away free books. We give away free books at marriage conferences. I usually give away or suggest books in counseling sessions. We give away free books at many other seminars.*
3. Take advantage of small groups. If you do small groups at your church take advantage of them by suggesting high quality books to go together as a group.
4. Write book reviews for your church. I hope to begin utilizing my book reviews for the benefit of our church even more. If I can figure out how to cut cost I want to put them in bulletins, perhaps as a book of the month. As of now some from our church members read my book reviews here at Borrowed Light.
5. Quote from great books. When you are preaching, teaching, counseling, or just talking feel free to do some name dropping and quoting. This will help people when they are at a book store to know quality authors. (Be sure to stress JOHN Piper instead of DON Piper though).
6. Read with people. Just like Dever’s Theology Breakfast, find a way to go through various books (even if you just read them) to a group of people.
7. Never neglect the supremacy of THE Word. Part of what you are doing is creating a culture that will take the Word of God more seriously and be better equipped to really dig into and reflect upon the Word. If you make books central then you’ve missed something. This also helps to filter what books you giveaway. If they aren’t biblical but simply free then you might be creating a reading culture but not necessarily a good one.
*We have $0 to budget for a book allowance and for me giving away these books. Nor do I have the income to buy a free book every week. So, how do we do it? I have two channels. First, I receive a good number of free books from publishers to review. I also receive free books from conferences and such that I attend. Many times I give these away. Second, a little over a year ago I made a phone call to a publishing company. I won’t mention the name because I doubt they could do this for every church. (But it rhymes with Drossway). This unnamed publishing company graciously sent close to 100 free books for us to distribute on Sunday evenings. Amazing!