Friday, March 31, 2006

pastors and books

George Barna's study, dated May 30, 2005, asked pastors to identify "the three books that had been most helpful to them as a ministry leader during the past three years." There were over 200 books listed, but only 9 that were listed by more than 2% of the 614 pastors surveyed. Similarly, there were only 10 authors that were listed by more than 2% of the respondants.

Here are some of the results
#1 The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren - 21% indicated this was one of the 3 most helpful books they had read in the past 3 years.
#2 The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren - 15%

Warren was also the author whose books were listed most often, and thus ranked as the most influential church leader.

7 other books were selected by 2% of pastors.
What's So Amazing About Grace? Phillip Yancey;
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbala;
Wild At Heart, John Eldredge;
Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels;
Spiritual Leadership, Henry Blackaby;
Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley;
21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell

54% listed at least one book regarding discipleship or personal spiritual growth as being most helpful.

Books about church growth, congregational health or ministry dynamics were the next most prolific, listed by 23% of pastors.

Leadership books were equally valued, identified by 22%.

No other category was cited by at least 10% of the sample: theology (9%), evangelism and outreach (6%), pastoring (6%), prayer (5%), charismatic perspectives (5%), trends and cultural conditions (4%), preaching (3%).


The results don't suprize me - but they do scare me.
How is it possible that only 9% of respondants listed a book about theology?
If pastors don't read theology, who does?
What about preaching, pastoring and prayer?
The question may have slanted the responses: what books were "most helpful to them as a ministry leader during the past three years." But if pastors can't make the connection between theology and leadership we are in bad shape.

Yes, I have read all the books listed above... as well as many more. I try to read at least 1 key book by from a non-christian perspective per month.
Some key books on my shelf recently include:
Theology for the Community of God, Grenz (re-read)
Jesus Creed, Scott McKnight (prof of Religious Studies @ North Park)
Embracing Grace, Scott McKnight
The Character of Theology, J. Franke
Out of the Question... Into the Mystery, Len Sweet
The Mentored Life, Jim Houston
Christ Plays n 10,000 Places, Eugene Peterson
Paul, In Fresh Perspective, N.T. Wright (on my list to pick up)

4 comments:

The Righteousness of God said...

Maybe the focus of the conversation is wrong. The more poignant measure might be: "What books are the laity reading?".

The wacky, quacky, expectation of most bodies is to let the pastor shoulder everything - not the scriptural model at all. We are all gifted. We are all the Priesthood (of believers).

pastor mike said...

Those results would be even more depressing. So-called "christian romance" novels would be at the top of the list.

The Righteousness of God said...

And we wonder why people have no idea of who they are in Jesus Christ!

I understand why there is so much bad preaching and teaching in Christendom.

pastor mike said...

bad preaching... bad teaching... bad living: maybe non-living is a better expression.
so many coast / drift through life & I don't mean they are "in the river"