I’ve recently been in discussion with one of the fine deacons at my church about starting a book club to help encourage reading. We sincerely desire for people in our congregation to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. My friend Jim has recently established a public access church library where people can check out all kinds of books on theology, Christian living, parenting and so forth. We even have a limited selection of commentaries as well.
We both have a passion for reading. It has helped us to mature in our Christian faith. Reading has fallen on hard times overall in our media-driven society of sight and sound. I find very few people who read anything more than what they can pull up on their web browsers. I find this trend very disturbing. I have four kids and the mere mention of reading a book for leisure is met with scoffs and eyeball rolls by all but one. They can’t conceive why anyone would read a book at all- whether for fun or (gasp) for education. It is completely beyond them. They think I’m from another planet when I joyfully pick up a book and hunker down for a good long spell. I’m afraid my children are just a microcosm of young people in general throughout America. I mean, who has time for books when you’ve got Youtube, iTunes and Xbox 360 to blitz the senses and occupy the mind.
Now, I thought this problem only affected the youth and perhaps to a lesser degree, my generation, but Jim informs me that he knows very few people of his generation who read at all. Now, Jim is a much more seasoned veteran of life than I, so this remark surprised me. How long has reading been out of vogue? Since the invention of the television?
Whatever the cause may be, we are looking to remedy the situation by holding a once-a-week book club meeting during the summer break. My idea is to pick a book and assign a chapter or two every week and then hold meaningful discussions on the content. My preference is to read established Christian classics. Now I would love to go over some Calvin, Luther and various Puritan works but these might intimidate those who may not read a lot due to the harder-than-average readability. I’m willing to read contemporary volumes, (for there are a great many good ones out there) but would generally like to stay away from ‘hot-off-the-press’ books until they are established as doctrinally sound and helpful. So, basically, I’m looking for contemporary Christian classics that work to supplement the daily absorption of the word, which should always be our main source of reading.
I turn to you now, my readers, for help on a couple of issues.
1. I would welcome any advice on how to effectively facilitate this book club so that it will attract and maintain a core group of believers who will commit to weekly reading and discussion. Anybody out there have experiences as a facilitator or as a member of a similar type of church group? I’d love to hear your input.
2. I would appreciate any recommendations on great contemporary Christian books that you have found eye-opening and instructive in your Christian walk that would fit in well with the format I’ll be working from. Really thick volumes and ones that use highly technical language are probably not what I’m looking for. I have several books in mind but would welcome any ideas.
Thanks in advance.