Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our Books: Do They Age, or Sour?

This is probably a common question heard across many fields of expertise. Have you read… ? (Insert the latest, greatest book.) It can be a full time job for most of these experts: simply reading the amount of books published that supposedly present the best that the topic has to offer. When do any of these people have the time to do their expert task?

The work of a “spiritual community generator” is no different. (Or, considering the Christian publication monster, maybe it is.) Every week a new spin is published, supposedly revealing the best way to accomplish the task that all Christians should embrace… that of telling a dying world that there is life available for the taking. The funny thing is you have to be abreast of the latest book. If you are caught talking about a book from ten years ago, you will be laughed at in many cases. It is perhaps more about trends and styles than substance.

Reading is not a bad thing. Being informed about how others are doing something that one is trying to do as well can be helpful. However, at some point there has to be a way to narrow the homework and reading list so that the actual task can be carried out. Why not make time a determining factor?

Let us assume that all church planting/missions experts will already be reading the most important book on the list every day. How long should one wait after a book comes out to see if it stands the test of time and has true insights and is not just a fancy repackaging of something already known or even worse a waste of time popular simply for its novelty? Is twenty years enough? How about fifty?

2 comments:

  1. My mentor once told me, "Don't write a book if you don't have anything new to write about!" I'm not so sure that is true. I think if God has gifted you to write, has given you the desire to write, then write. As the writer, you're responsible to God. The reader is just as responsible. I read to see what God has taught someone else...and then apply it if it applies. I think the problem comes when we just want to imitate what God has told another and not take the time to hear God for ourselves. It may not translate to our own situations. Wonder where our blogs will fall into this category??? Way to get us thinking, Jason!

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  2. AMEN!! I remember being so upset with an author and his VERY popular (still)book and thinking all the time I was reading it, " this is exactly what C.S. Lewis said!" (and said much better, I might add) AND the author didn't even credit Lewis for the thoughts!
    I could go on and on about other pet peeves, such as having to use the latest ministry "buzz words".

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