“What are you reading?”
That’s an important question. A question that we church leaders ought to ask ourselves, and our ministry leaders, on a regular basis. Not in a guilt-inducing, burden-imparting sort of way, rather in a way that communicates the significance of this life-giving discipline.
A rhythm of reading is critical for every pastor. Reading can cause us to stand up and shout praises to God, or it can bring us to our knees in humility. Reading stirs the mind and the heart. Reading can stretch our thinking and introduce us to new ministry ideas.
Whether you’re reading a Theological treatise, the latest Christian living release, or a novel—reading is one disciple that every pastor/ministry leader must consider a priority.
Developing a rhythm of reading will benefit two important people and/or groups:
The Apostle Paul exhorted Christ followers to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). How can our mind be renewed if we are not consistently exposing it to what’s gone before (history) and what’s happening today (contemporary culture)?
In his book, Practicing Greatness, author Reggie McNeal writes of the importance of spiritual leaders being exposed to fresh insights and ideas. ‘They are curious. They want new vistas. They want new conversations…Seeking out new ideas can be as simple as reading in a new subject or a new author.”
Reading also solidifies what you already know to be true. It causes you to believe the things you do—more deeply. How? It causes you to better understand the foundations of what you believe, and to have a solid argument for the things you don’t.
When you develop a rhythm of reading: your sermon illustrations will be richer, your counseling meetings will have more depth, and your day-to-day conversations will have more spice.
Consider for a moment someone you know who’s an expert on a specific subject: classic cars, World War II history, apologetics, etc. It’s easy to enjoy a conversation with them about their field of interest because they’ve read and read and read some more about their subject. They’re expertise on the subject matter is invigorating!
Those you lead will be richer because they’ll get to sip from the cup you give them—having drunk deeply from the well of Scripture, theology, history, etc. Your scholarship has a direct impact on those you serve.
So feel the freedom to grab a good book, a comfy chair, a cool beverage—and read! Many will benefit from your rhythm of reading.
Rob Bentz serves as the Pastor of Small Groups and Spiritual Growth at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He regularly blogs about small group leadership.
He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, and lives with his wife Bonnie and their two children in Colorado Springs.
Rob is currently writing his first book, The Unfinished Church (Crossway, 2014). The Rhythm of Reading