One of the peripheral things I do related to my work involves collecting used books for something called Christian Salvage Mission. I should add that I’m not very good at this as most people simply donate their books to the local thrift shop, but every once in awhile someone will greet me with a trunk load full of boxes, and often it’s a retired pastor who has reached the stage where they are giving up their personal library. They say you can’t take it with you, but these old guys — and by old guys I mean five minutes older than me — would gladly take their theology collection to heaven if they could figure out a way.
Because I’m basically nosy, I usually take the time to rummage through these boxes to see what books and reference materials shaped their ministry. Recently, I realized these books are characterized by what isn’t there:
- there are no books on leadership principles
- there are no books on leveraging your platform
- there are no books on growing your church
- there are no books on hiring best practices
- there are no books on promoting your next sermon series
- there are no books on launching a satellite campus
It was the first one — leadership — I noticed more significantly. I wonder how much of our present emphasis is diverting attention and energy away from pastors simply immersing themselves in the knowledge of scripture. Instead, the libraries I see include:
- Bible commentaries
- Bible handbooks
- Greek and Hebrew word study
- more commentaries
- classic sermon transcripts
- …did I mention commentaries?
Do you think there is something we’re losing — and I mean the church as a whole in terms of where the focus now lies — by getting entangled in so many secondary or tertiary concerns?
In a few days, the Global Leadership Summit launches at Willow Creek. This is a great opportunity for people in business and service industries to hear from the best, including both Christian and general interest speakers. I know that many pastors also attend these events, as well as a gazillion other conferences where the goal is to extract leadership principles that can be applied to their local church. I am not dissing the idea of nurturing leadership principles in pastors and church leaders.
I’m simply noting that — if their libraries are any indication — such an emphasis did not exist in times past.
Yes, today is 8/8 so I posted this at 8:08. My own little OCD moment.