Insights about Christian Books for Men
In the September 17, 2007 issue of The Weekly Briefing I asked, “What can you tell me about how Christian books for men are purchased and read?”
No big surprise here…most of the responses came from men who like to read! They tended to be pastors or laymen actively ministering to men in some way.
I was blown away by your insights! So thank you. Of course, these are opinions to help shape research—not the research itself. Nevertheless, here are several concepts that emerged.
The big idea (so far) is that pastors and leaders are the “first readers” of Christian books for men. They hold influence over a second group we might call “relational readers.” “Relational readers” either a) take a recommendation from a respected pastor or leader or spouse on a book that hits a felt need, b) are given a book by a “first reader” or spouse, or c) get in a small group led by a pastor or leader who picks the book.
These “relational readers” are men who often don’t read well and/or don’t like to read. As a result, they don’t read much, can take or leave books in general, and wouldn’t take an interest in reading except as a response to a pastor, leader, or spouse.
As to why many men do not read, there were many wise opinions—here are three:
- Men often come home from work mentally and emotionally exhausted which, of course, affects a lot more than reading!
- The proliferation of alternatives to books.
- They don’t know how. (I think I will soon write an article on how to read a book).
Several mentioned the difference between buying and reading a book. Yes, these are two separate issues, and I will be addressing them both. As one leader put it, “Men won’t read something they can’t find.”
Why do men read?
You said that readers are of two motivational perspectives. First are the pastors and lay leaders who love to read and grow. Second are the “relational readers” who are trying to solve a particular problem or grow spiritually—whether reading alone or studying in a group.
Who buys the books and why?
You said the pastor or leader will buy books for himself. The ones he likes he a) recommends, b) buys more copies for men to study in a small group, c) gives to a needy man, and/or d) gives as a gift. A wife buys a book for her husband to help him with a specific issue.
How do men hear about the books they buy?
From pastors, other authority figures, reviews, church staff, radio programs. One man said he relies on his pastor to keep him from “wandering off” in his reading directions.
Where do men get their books?
Wow, almost everywhere: church store, Barnes and Noble, Christian bookstores, online, directly from a ministry, Wal-Mart, conference book tables.
This is a first take. I’ll say more in the weeks ahead. Suffice it to say this is a huge opportunity to explore.
Reading is so important. One leader said it well in his response: “The men who read the book chapter we study before they come to our small group are growing, and those who don’t read it are stagnant. The stagnant ones just can’t understand why their lives are not changing.” As only Mark Twain could put it, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”
For the glory of Christ and no other reason….
Pat Morley, Ph.D