Monday, April 11, 2011

Worship Reading

I've always enjoyed reading, but last year, I decided that 2011 would mark a new commitment on my part to do more substantial, thought-provoking, wisdom-creating reading.

I made a specific commitment to read more important works - The Bible and worship-related books. (Just so you know, there aren't quite as many worship-related books as you might think.) Before long, I also added more general "Christian living" books to my list. Four months in, I've noticed a few things. (In addition to my reading list being a bit more balanced from its noticeably "stupid fiction" leanings).

It's Cumulative
The most obvious lesson I've learned so far is that all this reading does have a cumulative effect. You do, in fact, get smarter about stuff. And moving from book to book is a great brain exercise. For a few of the books I've read, I've made mental notes: "read this again next year" or "pass this to a friend and discuss it". In addition to giving you more knowledge, the combined effect of reading forces you to think critically as you read. Reading books in succession naturally forces you to notice the differences.

I Need Prose
And added benefit that I didn't see coming was a new appreciation for a good sentence. Reading a lot will put lots of well-planned, compelling stories, arguments and theories in front of you. Over time, your ability to communicate ideas in a church setting begins to get better. By seeing where authors do (and don't) communicate clearly or accurately, you become much more aware of your own communication style.

A Well-Fed Soul
As a part of my commitment to be a more diligent reader, I've been trying to carve out substantial periods of time for reading. Some of it directly benefits my ministry, but regardless, it does good things for my mind and my soul. A good twenty or thirty minutes in a theology book or a Bible study or practical ministry article focuses me and calms me. (Even the ones that I don't agree with end up helping me!) I think I'm better at my job when I'm actively engaging my mind in thinking about more than just 5 songs on a Sunday morning.

If you're not much of a reader, give it a shot! It might just make that songlist on Sunday morning even better!