Making Disciples Who Read Well

Revitalizing the Church Library

Posted by Stacy Ott on May 28, 2023
Making Disciples Who Read Well
Some of the books from what will be in the expanded children and youth sections of the library. Photo by Seth Weber.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
—John 1:1
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
—1 John 5:13
“All Scripture [sacred writing contained in the Bible] is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”
—2 Timothy 3:16

Have you ever stopped to think of the fact that God chose to communicate to us through the written word?

He is God; he could have used anything. He could have used holograms like the Star Wars universe when Princes Leia transmits her message that Obi Wan is her only hope. He could have kept the message of Scripture strictly oral with holy traveling minstrels who share the message of the Gospel to small communities of people, while keeping that message accurate for 2,000-plus years. He could have even used inerrant movie projections to teach large crowds His truth of who is He is and who we are in relationship to him.

But he didn’t. He chose the written word.

Since God chose the written word to teach people about Him, His righteousness, our salvation, and sanctification, I think we should take knowledge and understanding about the written word seriously. We should strive to know its structure, components, genres, and subtleties.

One of the best ways to do this is by being immersed in The Word, the word, and many words. When we spend time reading and understanding the written word through learning about proper grammar structure, literary devices, and rhetorical devices, our understanding about writing communication grows and our lives are enriched.

Knowing how to read and write is called literacy. I am sure many of you have noticed most people in America do not read and write as much as they used to. Therefore, the level of literacy of American people is going down. The National Literacy Institute says 130 million adults in the United States are now unable to read a simple story to their children. Other sad statistics from the institute include:

  • 21% of adults in the US were illiterate
    in 2022.
  • 54% of adults have a literacy below sixth-grade level.
  • 44% of American adults do not read a book in a year.

What I would like to suggest is that one of the ways we can actively disciple people in our church, so that they can read and understand God’s Word, is through promoting literacy in our church. We want the people of Faith Bible Church to love God’s Word; one way we can do that is by making sure the people of Faith know the importance of words, read many words, and enjoy words.

That desire is at the root of our endeavor to update the church library.

Equipping the church

If you have recently been in the Connection Room, where we have Tribe Coffee and Books, you may have noticed that the library portion is under revitalization. For the past year, there has been a small group of people diligently working together under the leadership of our pastoral team to update our library so that we can encourage the reading of good books to our members.

The library in the Connection Room is currently undergoing revitalization.

The mission of the library at Faith Bible Church is “to help cultivate a love of reading in our members that will enable them to be better equipped in their approach to God’s Word and their relationships with others.” Our aim is to stock the Faith Bible Church library with all sorts of good books that leaders of Faith Bible Church would recommend: books you can read to encourage your sanctification, both fiction and nonfiction; books you can read to yourself and books you can read with a group; books you can read silently and books you can read out loud; books for yourself and books for your family. By being immersed in these books we hope that members will better understand God’s Word.

The second part of our mission statement is the goal that members be better equipped in their relationships. Reading good literature helps to expose us to different worldviews of authors and characters in books. When we are exposed to these ideas within pages of literature, we can pause for a discourse within our own minds, refining our own worldview. Reading about the lives of others, whether fiction or nonfiction, helps to create empathy for people’s circumstances which carries over into real-life circumstances of loving our neighbor.

We can also share in discussion of good books with one another, which builds understanding in relationships in the church. I have been hosting a monthly story time for preschoolers and their parents or grandparents. I love the connections that we all make over a funny rhyme in a book. Many people in our church are also participating in book clubs and have refining conversations over choices that characters make in the books. Those conversations help build empathy, patience, and understanding in the relationships between the book club members.

In August, we hope to launch our revitalized library. We will have a thoughtful and curated selection of books as well as an updated digital checkout and return system. We will have an online catalog that will let you know what books we have, and you can even place them on hold. The library will still be in the Connection Room, making it easy for you to peruse the shelves before, after, or between church services.

Our desire is to encourage our church to take words seriously and also have fun with them. We would like our church members to enjoy words in order to get to know language better and have deeper relationships with others. We hope the selection and curation of books will inspire you to read and immerse yourself in words for the sake of knowing The Word better! 

Stacy Ott

Stacy is the mother of five and loves teaching, learning and reading great books!

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