I hate Christian bookstores.
Can I say that? Yep.
They are frustrating for so many reasons.
But the $30 wooden angels that looked like they were carved by a blindfolded 4-year old or the t-shirts designed by someone who flunked a community college graphic design class are not what frustrates me most.
The books are the worst, and I LOVE books.
I don’t know what it is that makes Christians gobble up whatever the newest version of shallow theology peddled by some Christian author that may or may not even be a part of the local church. From prosperity “gospel” nonsense to virtue-based teaching steeped behavior modification the lack of solid, Christ-centered resources in a Christan bookstore can be astounding.
So with all these options – all these books from all these pastors writing about all this stuff…where should we start
How does the average Christian know what to buy and what to avoid?
I have one rule that helps me wade through the Christian bookstore maze: When it comes to books intended for a Christian audience, I generally only read books written by active pastors of local churches.
I have no interest in reading books from presidents of organizations, professors, or Christian authors in general. I am not saying they write sub-par books, not by any means.
There is just something about reading a book written by a man or woman who is in the trenches of ministry week in and week out. They’re not sleeping in and spending days holed up in their home office writing their books in solitude.
No, these are the people who write sermons by day and books by night. They may not reach their written word count goal for the night because a church member calls in a moment of need. So they give of themselves, their time and energy, to the ones God has entrusted to them and they write double the next night.
They can’t afford to sleep half the day away like other writers because they have staff meetings to conduct and hospital visits to make. They can’t quite seem to wrap up their latest chapter because they performed two funerals and welcomed a new baby into their church family.
After being wrung out for the Gospel all day, they ask God to fill them up on the way home so they can be wrung out yet again ministering to the ones that matter most, their family.
This week I’m at a small conference for church leaders at The Village Church in Dallas where Matt Chandler serves as pastor. He is the only “famous” pastor I really pay much attention to. I have enjoyed listening to his sermons since I was in college but I have gained a new level of respect for him today because I saw him make time for his church people, his family, and a room full of young pastors. His breakout session was filled with story after story of interactions with people in his local church, which will never make it into a book.
Of all the options at your local Christian bookstore, I would suggest reading the words of a humble, hard-working pastor who lives out what it means to love Jesus all the while leading others to do the same.
What are you reading right now?