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Poll Studies the Reading Habits of Today's Pastors

The Barna Group evaluated the reading habits of pastors in the U.S. and found that 92 percent of pastors buy at least one book per month and on average purchase more than three. Compared with the average American, who purchases less than 10 books per year, it’s clear that pastors as a whole are “voracious” readers. 

By way of background, the study results released by The Barna Group explained, “There are 315,000 Protestant houses of worship in the United States — that’s compared to approximately 13,000 McDonalds and 4,000 Walmarts. Or, to put it another way: more than 300,000 people who purchase, on average, 3.8 books per month. That’s not counting the number of books purchased by people influenced by pastors, such as other ministry staff and congregants, likely driving the total number of books even higher.”

When asked to identify the types of books they have read recently, pastors identified spirituality, theology and leadership most frequently. Other popular subjects include prayer, history, cultural trends and church practice. About half of pastors are reading biographies and one-third are consuming business books. Fiction is a slightly less prevalent category among pastors compared to the general population.

Almost half of pastors said they use a digital device like an e-reader or an iPad. That number is nearly triple that of two years ago. Even so, more than half of pastors still prefer reading hardcover books to either paper back or digital.

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.