Men in the church don’t read well.
I don’t have statistics or studies to prove this. My conclusion draws from my experience and from educated intuition.
I recently discussed this conclusion with Albert Mohler, and he agreed, “It’s a very correct and perceptive intuition.” So that’s something.
Of course, not all Christian men struggle with reading. Many men in the pews are very competent readers, and the church is stronger for it.
But many Christian men do struggle with reading. Here are four reasons why:
1. Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin.
We live in a golden age of book publishing, which is great for the avid reader—but is overwhelming for many men.
2. Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing.
Many men don’t read books for the simple fact that books cannot compete with visual and passive entertainment the world offers.
3. Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time.
Many men don’t read books because they are unconvinced the time spent in a book is going to “do anything” to enhance their lives.
4. Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline.
Reading may be a hobby, but it’s never less than a discipline. Reading well requires both focused attention and a time commitment.
These reasons overlap to some degree. So what can be done to combat these four hurdles in the lives of guys?
In any given local church, a wise pastor possesses the single most valuable commodity that will influence men who don’t read books, and that commodity is reading experience.
A wise pastor is a man who has learned by experience to discern valuable books from the less-helpful (reason #1, above). A wise pastor is a man who has learned to fix his attention on the written word for lengthy periods of undistracted time (reasons #2 and #4). And a wise pastor is a man who has been personally altered by his discoveries in the written word (reason #3).
Even without thinking about it, most faithful pastors are already pushing against each of these four cultural factors for why men don’t read books. In a visually driven culture, the effective power of the written word shines in a pastor who has carefully meditated and read over his sermon text in Scripture.
But there’s more that can be done.