I often ask my pastors what they’re reading outside of scripture. Too often the answers I get are litanies of commentaries and historical theologians. Although that’s not a bad thing, I suppose, the problem is that a steady diet of Christian academia and spirituality may feed your soul, but it will also asphyxiate your brain. In fact, too many great theologians and their followers are so heavenly minded that frankly, they’re no earthly good (okay, I admit that’s an overstatement, but in the case of some historical theologians, it’s only a bit of one).
Rarely do I find a pastor who is majoring in theological inquiry who is also leading a growing, effective, faithful, and sustainable church. Ask a pastor who’s reaching their neighborhood and community for Christ what they’re reading and you’ll hear resources like:
- The Wall Street Journal
- WIRED Magazine
- Alan Hirsch
- Reggie McNeal
- Gary McIntosh
- Net Results
- Harvard Business Review
- A steady diet of other works from business, marketing, church growth, and both fiction and non-fiction from the New York Times Best Seller lists.
Effective pastors also manage to catch first-run box-office hits as well as reading selected blogs and catching some viral videos now and again. Do they read theologians and commentaries? Sure, but it seems there’s more of a tendency to “fit” these in amidst other pursuits or when there’s a specific need.
Why do they spend their valuable research time in such worldly pursuits? There are two reasons. First, many of those books, magazines, movies, blogs, and videos are the ones that provide the fodder for new initiatives and practices that can change a leader’s life. Second, all of those books, magazines, movies, blogs, and videos open windows and doors of conversational opportunities with the people most important to the kingdom of God… those who are outside and beyond the walls of the church.
Question: What resources would you add to this list? Share some of your favorites in the Comments section below.