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Summer Reading and Community

I’m not a book club guy. I don’t sit down with a group of like-minded bibliophiles and discuss the plotlines, themes and denouement of various pieces of literature. Not that it’s a bad thing. I just don’t do it.

However, I do believe that when reading books which deal with things like leadership philosophy, Christian issues or theology in general, doing it in community is hard to beat. This summer I’ll be walking through Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters (my last post) with a group of people. Additionally I’m planning on reading Jonathan Edwards’ The Religious Affections with guy home from college for the summer. It was a book I’d heard he wanted to read and thought, “Here’s my chance to walk through Edwards’ classic with somebody!”

Here are some benefits to reading books in community:

  1. You see what they might miss, they see what you might miss. That’s the power of more “eyes” on the same pages.
  2. You’ve also added more brains to further dissect, ruminate and assimilate the ideas of the text. Some people think creatively, others linearly and still others may think in a way that defies definition – but the more “different thinkers” you have – the better potential there is for really breaking down a book’s contents.
  3. You multiply the potential applications that get put on the table to think through. Instead of one life pressed up against the matrix of a book, you have multiple situations that are intersecting with what you’re reading.
  4. There is better accountability to keep plugging through the text when it gets dry or dense, knowing you’ve got to meet with someone in a few days to talk about what you don’t want to read at the present. That 7AM meeting tomorrow morning at the local coffee shop with your reading buddies may be the only thing that keeps your nose in the book at times…and that’s a good thing.
  5. Now you get the added blessing of how the Holy Spirit chooses to use the truth of what you’re reading to affect more than just you. For example, maybe the conviction someone in your group begins to work through will be something you need to ponder in your own heart. Community can be a great instrument for the grace of sanctification.
Summer usually means hot days, swimming pools and for many, reading books. Consider the benefits of reading a solid Christian book with a group this summer, then make the commitment by grabbing a friend or two (or seven) and read! Surely you have some names of people that pop into your head who would be excited to do it?!?! I believe reading in community will not only enhance your reading but also your relationships…both with God and your friends.

Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading and Community”

  1. so if you want to do Edwards as a GROUP I’d be interested in that – it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while and I keep finding excuses to put it off… But I may be odd – finding a group of people who want to talk about Jonathan Edwards would probably be challenging. 🙂

  2. Gucci Little Piggy

    Thanks Mandy…however I think the twosome thing was what we’re were trying to shoot for this summer. We’re unable to make it consistent with his job demands so it appears it will run at times at 6:30AM on Wednesdays…then whenever he can work it in. It’s not a good group situation. However, I would be interested in doing something similar in the future.

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