John Adams said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.” His wife, Abigail Adams, said, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.”
I am a student. I am an academic. I know I am not alone among the readers and writers of SBC Voices. I value knowledge. I value the ability to learn and the tools that aid us in acquiring knowledge. I love a good library. My own library grows weekly. However, a church library is a different story.
The church I grew up in had a library. It still does. Whether anything new has been added to it in my 35 years of life is up for debate. Whether it is used is not. The answer is no. Each church I’ve pastored has had some form of library. Its primary purpose was to house the copier of the church.
Berkeley Baptist Church, where I currently serve as Pastor, has a library that has been in boxes since my arrival. A brief explanation: the current library was originally the Pastor’s study. Several pastors ago, it was moved to our Office Building next to the Secretary’s office. The Pastor before me requested it be moved back. His reasons were nostalgia (this was his second tenure as Pastor and he wanted his original office back) and accountability (he didn’t want to be beside the church secretary, a woman). When I arrived, the former study beside the Secretary’s office was the library. I requested that they be ripped (I didn’t want to be alone in another building. It was both practical and for accountability as well). So the library was boxed up and moved back to the old Pastor’s study.
It has sat boxed up for nearly four years. Now a new library committee has formed and they are working to set it up. As they’ve gone through the books, the realization is that this library has sat, unused and stagnant, for over a decade. It is antiquated. Now it is becoming a financial drain.
The new team has asked for nearly $300 for next year’s budget (versus $0 for over a decade). Sadly, none of this money is for updated books. It’s for furniture, dust covers, etc.
My question to the esteemed readers of SBC Voices: is a church library a valuable commodity or a waste of time, space and money? Does your church have a library? If so, is it used?
Joseph Giles is Pastor of Berkeley Baptist Church in Berkeley Springs, WV. He is married to Tiffany and has one daughter, Rebekah. He holds a B.A. in Christian Studies from Bluefield College and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing an M.Div in Theology from Liberty University.