Information abounds. In fact, there is more information available than any one person can keep track of. This avalanche of information continues to grow due to the wide use of electronic information sharing.
Browsing the magazine rack is now done via the computer at home. You can look at the current issues of many popular publications, search past issues, download, and print articles of interest. The overwhelming part is it continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
To even begin to keep up with the traffic on the information highway requires that a person concentrate only on a small area of interest. And even that is becoming increasingly difficult to do. The average person's scope of interest narrows in proportion to the expansion of information pools that are readily available.
This trend is having an enormous impact on our society. One particular result has been the altering of the reading and study habits of most people in our churches--including the leaders and teachers. A good friend, and a highly educated speaker, once told me that he could count on one hand the number of books that he has read all the way through. He said he only lifted out of the book the things he needed for what he was working on at the time. According to his philosophy, a book is a tool like a hammer or saw to be used only when needed. However he did say that he would love to read every word in each book, but the books he had plus the growing number of new books made this impossible.
Then, there are those workers on our staffs who don't like to read. Some may be poor readers which makes reading a chore for them. The danger here is that when a teacher ceases to learn, they cease to teach. Consequently, though they may be wonderful people who can build great relationships, a teacher who doesn't continue to learn can become a burden on the teaching staff.
So, what's the solution?
One pastor came up with a practical and workable solution. He has developed what he calls a pastor's reading group. The idea really began by accident. The pastor found himself with more tapes and books than he could possibly read. When one of his workers asked for some information on a particular subject, he gave her a tape. He told her he had not listened to it yet, so he would appreciate it she would pass on to him any interesting information on the tape. A good idea was born and soon grew to what it is today.
Here's how it works: each teacher and worker is asked to read a book, listen to a cassette tape, or watch a video every couple of weeks. They make notes on the contents and pass these on to the others in the group. In this way, every one in the group can have the benefit of the materials in a greater number of books than they would ever be able to read. The possibilities of this concept are unlimited. It is a good policy to provide written instructions to those who participate in the programs. They should be instructed to look for more than just what interests them. Accuracy is a must, too. The reader should be instructed to double check all of the facts they record in their notes.
This idea can be carried even further by having all of these notes entered into a computer. Using a database filing program or through the word search capabilities of a word processor, the church library can develop an extensive database of information, facts, book, and tape reviews. Just be sure to stay within legal guidelines for quoting and copying copyrighted materials. Another possible use of this information is having someone with a good reading voice put the information on tape. This is particularly beneficial to the commuter. The tapes can also be provided for those who are hearing impaired.
Adapting this idea can add to the effectiveness of the teaching ministry of your church. Busy teachers will have a wealth of new facts and information at their finger tips. They can stay abreast of new trends and techniques. Best of all, the idea doesn't require a large initial outlay of funds. I would encourage you to adopt this idea in your educational setting. The phrase "Read any good books lately?" will take on an entirely different meaning. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much your teachers will benefit from a program such as this. Oh yeah, if you read anything really good, send me the notes!
Written by Larry Thomas
Copyright Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved. Used with permission.