Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a potential church planter. I was asking him what items that he was reading currently. As he was speaking to me, I heard the all too familiar answer: "I am reading every book and blog I can find on church planting."
Being very familiar with church planting materials, I began to ask some questions about this particular persons reading. What I found out is that the potential planter had read about church planting from one perspective. He has certain blogs and certain authors that he read and that was
This planter is not alone in his approach. More and more I see pastors, ministers and planters lock into one "train" of discussion on ministry, missions, leadership and church planting. They have their favorite blogs, authors and speakers and they listen or read nothing else. This is not education. This is indoctrination! Here are some ideas that I think are helpful in becoming educated instead of indoctrinated.
Read material you may not agree with. Why? Sometimes the best way to clarify your thoughts and plans is to have them challenged. Reading or even listening to only one way of thought soon causes narrow mindedness, elitist ism and finally stagnation. If you are not challenged then you will not grow.
Read some of the older classic materials on leadership, ministry and missions. One of the biggest things that I see today is that a number of planters and pastors only read current authors and materials. When I ask about this, many of them answer "The authors of yesterday do not understand our contexts and problems that we are facing today. I need something more contemporary because things have changed." Whoa! Does this mean that anything not written today is obsolete? If they truly believe this does it mean that The Bible doesn't apply anymore?
There are a lot of good insights in the works of yesterday. One of the best books that I have ever read on church planting was written in 1927 by Roland Allen. It is called Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? There are lesson in this book that still apply today. Don't rule out the authors and materials of yesterday because you feel its not contemporary enough.
Read to learn not to find easy solutions. We are an ADD society. I want it quick and easy. I believe the reason that we like some of today's contemporary materials and blogs is because it is quick to get information and run with it. Read. Think on it! Critique and analyze. What works in my context and what doesn't work.
We need to be like plants taking in fertilizer! Take what is helpful for growth and discard the rest. What you might need might not be what you thought. There are not quick routes to ministry and discipleship growth. It takes time and work. Don't rush it but rather enjoy the journey.
Read for Fun. I worked with a planter that all he ever read and listened to was stuff on church planting and ministry. Every time we got together all he could talk about was church planting (even swimming in the pool). I really wanted to scream and tell him to "get a life"!
Read and listen for enjoyment. Read to broaden your horizons. God created us to enjoy and to learn. There are things out there that will help us to learn and grow that don't necessarily come out of a Christian publishing house or from a church leader. Some of the best leadership lessons I learned came out of history books and western novels. Who would have thought?
Story is told about a movie start who ate nothing but carrots because she was worried about her figure. One day, she looked in the mirror and realized that she was thin like a carrot and that her skin was orange like a carrot. Its the same with us! What we listen too and read influences who we are. If we have just a steady diet of one view or one subject then we begin to think and act that way.
What are you reading?