Have you ever sat and intentionally put thought into the materials you’re reading and why? One of the questions I’ve been thinking about, and discussing with people is; are we reading ourselves dumb?
Weird question, right? But here’s my thinking behind it; there has been a growing number of shorter books being published and the average length of a Christian book on a person’s shelf is probably at around 100 pages or less.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for publishers who produce shorter evangelistic books or shorter books that act as introductions to important topics. But there are limitations to shorter books. Generally speaking a shorter book can only be an introduction to a topic and it must give conclusions or findings without necessarily showing all the workings. The problem with this is that if someone hasn’t been taken on a ‘journey’ to understand why they have come to a certain conclusion, the minute they’re confronted with a different opinion they might change their mind. Shorter books, could result in shakier foundations on certain issues.
We need to be training people and getting resources into people’s hands that will help them grow in their knowledge of the Lord and His Word. I’m not convinced that bitesize books are the way forward. I understand that everyone is busy and that a larger book can be a daunting thing. I’m also not naive and I know that many big books are simply verbose. I’ve read a fair share of books that could have been put into a blog post, and I’ve read many blog posts that I’d love to see in a book.
My question is this; in the church, are we promoting a reading culture which is playing the tune of our ‘I want it now’ society?
We’re surrounded by adverts that promote a fast-pace of life, you can get same day deliveries, someone can pick up your take away and bring it to your door, people get a lot of their news from social media, we want information fast. But the reality is, if we want to properly learn and grow in our knowledge, then speed and brevity are not the way forward.
Instead we should use small books as what they often are, introductory works that should help whet our appetite for bigger, more in-depth studies of certain topics. Take for example the cross and atonement; not many people will want to dive right into Stott’s ‘The cross of Christ’ but a shorter introductory book could help them see the importance of the topic and then they would want to study it more.
If we only read shorter books then we are robbing ourselves of the vast amount of depth that is out there for us to learn about God and His Word. Thousands upon thousands of books are in print that deal with almost every thing about Christianity that you can imagine, so why not try read one ‘meatier book’.
Here’s a wee challenge for you; try make every third book you read a bit of a bigger one. You don’t have to suddenly jump to a 800 page whopper, but a longer book that will take you a good few weeks to get through. Take your time reading it, wrestle with the concepts and idea promoted in it and compare it with a shorter book on the same topic.
Let’s not read ourselves dumb by only reading sound bites and introductions but let’s dive into meaty books that push our understanding and let’s learn for the glory of God.