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Part 3: Getting Started

Part of being a healthy church is developing a culture of Christian literacy. This is not just about reading the Bible. It’s about knowing how to read all kinds of information and how to process it in the light of God’s Word. Psalm 36:9 says, “For with you is the
fountain of life: in your light do we see light.” I am more convinced than ever that my enjoyment of Scripture and Scripture’s mastery over me pushes me to read out of my comfort zone; it stokes the flames of curiosity and drives me to read various kinds of
literature. But for our purposes, I’d like to focus this article on reading Christian literature.
Where do you start?

1) Ask– The first step into becoming a reader might be to ask someone for help. Ask someone you trust (and better read than you) who will not give you recommendations that might be cumbersome or potentially misleading to your
faith. Ask them what they’re reading and what they would recommend.
2) Join– Nothing will help you stay accountable than simply asking someone in church if they’d read a book with you. Tony Reinke’s Christian Guide to Reading Books, affirms the power in communal reading: “Reading books together with other Christian friends provides us with a place for collective discernment, and a
place for spiritual illumination. And those are sweet moments!”
3) Go– Go to Barnes & Noble and just start walking through the aisles. Grab a book and sit down. Go to the public library keeping in mind, however, that they don’t usually have a healthy selection of Christian literature. Go online to or (one of my personal favorites) If you’re wondering whether or not to buy a book or spend your precious time reading it,
read a book review. Several fine book review sites exist at, World magazine or Christianity Today

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

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Part 4: A “Starter Set”

Here I’m going to give some recommendations. Many would quibble with this short list, and that’s understandable; but it’s just a starter list.
Classics (Must Reads)

- Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan- An allegory on the Christian life. You won’t get it the first or second time. But it’s probably worth re-reading every year.
- Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis- A defense of Christianity that is excellent for both Christian and non-believer. Like a savory steak, you have to chew each of the short chapters slowly.
- Knowing God, by J.I. Packer- This work is accessible to all kinds of people. Packer’s hope is that by reading his book, you will want to put it down and read Scripture.
- The Valley of the Vision, compiled by Arthur Bennett- Don’t be fooled by the 2-page “chapters.” This “collection of Puritan prayers and devotions” goes deep. All at once, it will make you want to dance and weep.

(Random Yet) Really Helpful
The Unquenchable Fire, by Michael Reeves- This is a brief and entertaining overview of the Protestant Reformation. It is by no means dry, and I found myself laughing out loud at times.
- O Love That Will Not Let Me Go. Nancy Guthrie has compiled and edited sermons spanning hundreds of years by some of Christianity’s most influential pastors and thinkers on the theme of “facing death with courageous confidence in God.” Each
selection while concise and understandable drips with hope.
- Living the Cross Centered Life, by C.J. Mahaney- This short power-packed volume introduces an “every day” problem: “…we all face the temptation to move away from the gospel, to let it drop from our hands and hearts…. The cross and its meaning aren’t
something we ever master.”

"O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me."

- Thomas à Kempis

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