I was asked recently by a friend at my church how I decide what to read. So I thought it might be helpful to share my “what to read” philosophy and perhaps it will equip or encourage some of you to be more intentional about your own reading.
I will read books that supplement my preaching. The most recent example would be from preaching a series entitled “In the Beginning” at our church. The series has been a biblical examination of issues like sex, marriage, and gender. Thus, I have focused on Scripture’s teaching, but I have also read books that synthesize Scripture’s teaching on that subject. For example, I read Sex and the Supremacy of Christ edited by Justin Taylor and John Piper and True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standard for a Culture in Crisis by Daniel Heimbach. Reading books that supplement my preaching allows me to think about the implications of the Scripture I am preaching, gather helpful quotes for my sermons or the future, and be informed of the reading material that is worth recommending others purchase and read.
I will read books that address an area of my life I need to grow in. I value assistance in my own sanctification and understanding of who God is. So I will read books that address an issue of sin I am struggling with or a subject I need to deepen my grasp of that impacts my walk with the Lord. These types of books could come out of conversations I have with mentors or people I respect. As I share about my walk with the Lord with others and say things like, “I need to grow in ________,” and someone responds, “Have you read _______,” then I very well might read it.
I will read books that deepen my understanding of my community. I live in Wichita, KS and I feel a certain responsibility to understand the history of my community – how and why it thinks a certain way. Since moving here in 2004, I have read books on the abortion debate in the 1980’s (e.g., The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle Over Abortion), a book about one of the nation’s most feared serial killers and who terrorized our city (e.g., Bind, Torture, Kill) and I even read a book about the history of storm-chasing (e.g., Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Tornado Chasers), since we live in a volatile weather-oriented section of our country. Books like these help me gain a better grasp of the native Wichitan’s past and present.
I will read books that people in my church are reading that I know nothing about. As a shepherd I have a responsibility to protect the sheep, and I have an obligation to encourage certain books that are being read and warn of others that are not profitable or are erroneous. Some books I have read in recent years that I had no intention of reading, but when I heard people in our congregation were reading would be Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Twisting the Truth, or Heaven is For Real. I want to know what our church is reading, and thus address the errors in those books or encourage the truths in those books.
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