Books, Films, and Ministry

BooksBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

For years I have divided the world into three kinds of people:  those who never learn, those who learn from their mistakes, and those who learn from other people’s mistakes.  Book ministry consists of helping move people into this latter category by connecting them with books they can use.

One way is to give away good books.  Years ago in my office, a colleague started a book drive where he encouraged employees to bring in old, unwanted books.  These books would be set out for display.  People could choose any book, pay what they thought it was worth, and the money raised this way would be donated to charity.  Most of the books donated were steamy romance and murder novels.  Why not throw in a few good Christian titles?

Another way is to connect people with books that deal  with the issues they are struggling with.  For example, my favorite wedding gift for many years has been a book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend called:  Boundaries:  When to Say YES; When to Say NO; To Take Control of Your Life (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1992).   Another example targets older friends and family that tend to be less active–a book by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge called:  Younger Next Year:  Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond (New York:  Workman Publishing, 2007).   Normally, when I give someone a book, I check up later to see what they thought of it.

A variation on this theme is to give different relatives the same book as a Christmas gift.  The idea is to generate buzz in the family about a helpful topic and to move conversation away from the weather, sports highlights, and the latest tragedy on television.  While this may be akin to mission impossible, inspirational DVDs may be an easier sell.  A modestly priced example is:  The Star of Bethlehem (2009) by Frederick A. Larson and Stephen Vidano.

Speaking of Christmas, why not wrap up your favorite inspirational titles and DVDs and bring them as gifts when you go caroling at the local retirement center, jail, or psyche ward?  People in these places have a lot of time on their hands and the cable channels are unfortunately a major part of their entertainment.  DVDs are especially useful in reaching young people.

For me, book reviews are a ministry.  While I have reviewed a few newly published books, most books that I review are more than a couple years old.  The reason is simple–I am trying to introduce readers to books that have changed my life in some way.  Hopefully, my reviews will help readers learn from other people’s mistakes–including my own.

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