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By Jonathan Howe

I’ve been privileged to work for a voracious reader and also be pastored by one. These men have modeled godly leadership for me, but have done something else, too—they’ve taught me to love learning.

We say it often on the podcast—“A lifelong leader is a lifelong learner.” And while formal education (like you would find at a seminary like Midwestern) and ongoing ministry training (like we provide at Church Answers) are useful, personal development through the discipline of reading is also of great benefit.

As a pastor or church leader, you obviously play an important role in the spiritual development of fellow church members. But you can also develop members personally through the simple act of recommending books to them on a regular basis. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. When church members expect you to recommend books, you read more. This benefit is double-sided. Since you know you’ll be asked for book recommendations as a trusted church leader, you have to stay ahead of the congregation. This encourages you to continue your learning as a means of passing on that knowledge to congregants.
  2. Book recommendations can prepare the congregation for the future. When you know you’ll be preaching through a certain book of the Bible, you can prepare your congregation better by recommending they read books related to the direction of your sermons. The same applies for sermons by topic or even times of year. Imagine recommending your church read a book on the atonement as Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday approach or an Advent devotional during the Christmas season. Aligning the congregation to focus their reading on a certain topic can be extremely beneficial to the spiritual health of a church.
  3. Family discipleship can be modeled intentionally. When kids see their parents reading for spiritual edification and growth, they will want to copy that. Discipleship in the home should be caught and taught. Parents who read will often have children who read. If children see their parents reading to grow spiritually, they will want to do the same.
  4. Your church will develop better leaders. When you are modeling personal growth through continual reading, you will have leaders who are better developed than if you were not modeling it. By recommending books, you can form well-rounded disciples in your church. Theology books, leadership books, discipleship books, and personal development books can all be used to raise up leaders within the local church.
  5. Future leaders and ministers will be easier to identify. When you start challenging congregants to read and study, there will be some who rise to the top. You’ll likely be able to identify God’s call on their life for vocational ministry—better yet, so will they.

Do you recommend books to your congregation? If so, which ones and why?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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