The “it” here is the church library. Many churches have a space dedicated as a church library. But, many church leaders struggle with what to do with the church library. Many see it as space that could be utilized for meeting or classroom space. This perception is because a clear church library strategy is not usually addressed in Christian Education books, academic classes, or other venues. So, before you close “it”: Consider Making Disciples.
Many of the churches with a church library have people who are passionate about helping the church family discover the joy of reading. In these churches, the library space can be used to work to the advantage of the leaders responsible for discipleship/Christian (CE) education ministries. If the CE leaders and the librarians work from their strengths, the results could greatly impact their ability to make disciples in the future.
As the LifeWay Church Library Ministry Specialist, I have observed the struggles churches have with figuring out how to capitalize on this untapped resource. In the past 20 years, the LifeWay team has challenged church librarians to understand what is going on in the world of Christian Education. Through this understanding they are working to align their church library ministries with the mission, vision, and core values of their church families. This alignment enables both to move in the same direction with the same values.
Church Libraries as Disciplemaking Centers
Have you visited your local public library lately? Public libraries offer a growing menu of services such as computer classes, gardening programs, and more. Likewise, an increasing number of churches are transitioning their libraries to become disciple making centers. These ministries are no longer just a room of books. As you consider your church, here are a few essentials.
A disciplemaking center is . . .
- intentionally aligned to the church’s disciple making process as well as the mission, vision, and core values.
- a collaboration among the church staff members, lay leaders, and the disciple making center team.
- found in any size church.
- a significant way to bring generations together to serve Jesus Christ.
- a go-to place for spiritual enrichment, faith stories, leadership development, evangelism tools, coffee/tea, event tickets, and learner guides.
A Success Story – Forest Hills Baptist Church
The Forest Hills Baptist Church Library Team in Nashville, TN and the church staff developed a description of their new ministry and a new name: The Enrichment Center.
Here’s the driving force that guides their efforts:
A ministry that helps us walk a pathway of lifelong discipleship as we invite people to Jesus, invest in spiritual growth, and increase his Kingdom.
The Strategy: Starting points to be implemented over the next five or more years.
- Feature books and media related to sermon series and Sunday School/discipleship topics.
- Build a library collection to align to the mission of FHBC with Bible enrichment, evangelism, missions, self-help, non-fiction, Christian fiction, and biographies for all ages.
- Provide Book Clubs for all ages.
- Include enrichment toolboxes/stations that will contain tools for target groups including new disciples, single adults, men, women, families, leaders/teachers, missions, evangelism, and faith stories.
- Use a newsletter for promoting what is going on in and through The Enrichment Center.
- Add eBooks to the collection.
- Promote the use of RightNow Media.
- Become a purchase point for event tickets as well as Bibles, books, and learner guides for DiscipleLife use and individual use.
They also developed the following signposts to determine the enrichment actions, books and DVD selections, and the collection organization. The signposts are based on Michael Kelley’s “Signpost to Discipleship Pathway.”
- Help people engage the Bible
- Help people obey God and die to Self
- Help people serve God and Others
- Help people share Christ
- Help people exercise their faith
- Help people seek God
- Help people build relationships
- Help people live unashamed.
You can read more about our story on the Church Librarians Network.
Download Forest Hills Enrichment Center Strategy Document: CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Morlee Maynard is a member of BACE serving as the LifeWay Church Library Ministry Specialist and the Forest Hills Baptist Church Enrichment Center Team Leader
For more questions please email Morlee at: firstname.lastname@example.org