Every pastor knows that growth as a Christian requires more than a Sunday experience. I want to give the congregation something worthwhile to do between sermons to stretch their intellect and their faith.
I started a reading group.
Today, homemakers and house painters read and discuss Kierkegaard. Hair stylists and law officers read Augustine and Bonhoeffer and Pascal. And they love it. My first group has grown into many—reading science, history, contemporary short stories and drama, and devotional classics dating back to the Desert Fathers.
Food for the soul
Hungry to share questions, ideas, and Christian thought, I asked hungry friends to get together with me to read. We started with three devotees. A few years later, eight to ten of us were reading together with enthusiasm and loyalty. Indeed, this is the only small group in the history of our church where people who moved away have driven back, sometimes considerable distance, for the group meetings.
Our first group had a literary focus. We chose novels, plays, short stories, and poems that addressed ideas relevant to our faith. We selected books by authors concerned with spiritual matters, authors who had significant reputations. Many of them were professed Christians. We read Leo Tolstoy's folk tales, Gerard Manley Hopkins's poems, Flannery O'Connor's short stories, and a play by Thornton Wilder.
Through animated and lively discussions, we helped each other interpret these difficult but nourishing texts. Most of us read what we never would have read on our own. Most of us understood what we never would have understood on our own.
We started a second group on devotional classics. This group was smaller. The reading was harder. ...