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The Church Library: Centerpiece to Discipleship
By: Brad Finkbeiner

No single ministry resource has the potential of defining discipleship for a congregation than that of a church library ministry. The value of growing spiritually through reading has never been more important. As you labor through your church library ministry, don't lose sight of how valuable your ministry is and the impact it is having on the overall spiritual growth of your church family. Here are some ideas to help you see and perhaps enhance the value of your church library ministry.

Promoting autonomous study

Perhaps a holdover from our days of required reading in high school, there is an inherent aversion by many to just read for pleasure. Most would add they just don't have the time. A church library is the most powerful tool to help members develop the discipline of advancing spiritual growth through reading beyond what they get in group studies at church.

Thematically guiding the congregation to important topics, a church library ministry can bring a critical parallel resource to discipleship topics by promoting selected books and study resources that go along with sermon series and Bible studies. Your pastor may be preaching on giving, grief, prayer or the Holy Spirit. By promoting resources that complement your pastor's sermons on topics such as giving, grief, prayer or the Holy Spirit, you can assist individuals who want to delve in to these topics as they seek to grow and live in response to God's Word.

Complementing all Bible studies

Consider what it would take for the library to be the "go to" place for Bible study resources for Bible study leaders in Sunday School and other small groups. While many church members view the church library as a "point of leisure" or more of a recreational tool, the library ministry is a pivotal storehouse to Bible study leaders in their mission to equip the members. As ministry leaders launch gospel missiles, they need someone such as the library ministry team to equip the membership with the ammunition.

Good stewardship through a church's economy of scale

Often overlooked is the value that your church library ministry brings to practicing Biblical stewardship within the congregation. When a church supports investing and promoting discipleship through a church library ministry, it is maximizing the value of the church's collective expenses and distributing the cost throughout the body resulting in reduced cost per user. By increasing access to discipleship resources that many within your church fellowship would not be able to afford on their own, you open the door to opportunities for spiritual growth not previously available to many.

Leveraging from new media resources

You may not know the difference between RSS feeds and a podcast, but our multi-generational congregations are evolving into tech-savvy Christians. In fact, most persons under the age of 45 are daily users of some form of media technology (internet, iPod, Smartphone, etc).

As you promote the various forms of media and technology, the resulting effects will be dramatic growth of CD audio book collections; "MP3" files requests for iPods; media files on flashdrives; loaning a portable DVD player for a group to use a Bible study DVD; and even inquiries for media streaming options on your church web site. If you are not "hip" on some of the technologies, encourage young people to serve with the church library ministry team.

As you reshelf the day's book returns and turn out the lights in your church library, remember you have incredible impact on defining discipleship in your church. Your church library ministry provides far greater value than just leisure or recreation. Your ministry is the centerpiece to your church's discipleship ministry.

Brad Finkbeiner has pastored churches and led in various ministries in Arkansas. This article is courtesy of Lifeway Christian Resources, www.lifeway.com.

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