Pastors Reveal Their Influences | Challies Dot Com.
I am going to start with Tim’s commentary, because this is the actuality we need to face, and as a result of influences and motives of the authors and church leaders today we find our churches unhealthy, and in some cases spiritually dead. Why? Tim Challies writes the article which I advise you to check out in its entirety in the link above.
We can draw some analogies to the fast junk food problem in the US, although we may be growing some in size, we are absolutely not healthy, what we need to return to and cling to is the food that God intends for us in creation: fruit,veggies, grains, animals and fish. Our spirits require less junk but unprocessed and unaltered Word of God.
What can I say? These results are not at all suprising, but yet somehow still seem alarming. How is it possible that only 9% of respondants listed a book about theology? If pastors don’t read theology, how does? What about preaching, pastoring and prayer? Now it does seem that the question asked in this survey was slanted towards this type of leadership book. After all, the question asked what books were “most helpful to them as a ministry leader during the past three years.”
Here are a few thoughts:
Pastors either read bestsellers or they make bestsellers. It is difficult to know if books become bestsellers because they appeal to pastors who then tell their congregations about these books, or if pastors are as influenced by the Christian marketing machine as the average Joe sitting in the pew. I suspect it is the latter.
Rick Warren truly is the most influential pastor in North America at the present time. Of course we already knew this, but Barna’s survey provides evidence that his influence is not only among the laity, but among the leadership.
The most popular books are those dealing with leadership. Leaders are influenced by the latest and greatest books on leadership. It is disheartening to see that only 9% of respondants listed a book that dealt with theology. I guess theological books are not helpful in leading a church! Then again, I will admit that some of the titles described as “Discipleship” or “Personal Spiritual Growth” could also be theological, though not if they are Wild at Heart and What’s So Amazing About Grace?.
It seems obvious that the trend away from theology begins at the leadership level and filters down through the church. If only 9% of pastors have been influenced by a theological book in the past three years, how much less the average layperson?
I would very much have liked to see where Brian McLaren rated in this list. I suspect he would have had very little influence with older pastors, but would have been listed prominently by younger men (and women).
I would be interested in other people’s thoughts on this survey, which you can read here.
And I would also like to know the three books that had been most helpful to you in your Christian walk during the past three years.