Great for some things, but not everything
Podcasts, YouTube Videos and Facebook posts are great for some things. They’re good for getting across a big idea quickly. They’re useful for flagging and even engaging with current issues. They can even be good mediums for accessing sermons and Bible teaching. And of course, we can squeeze them in around our busy, time-poor, distracted lives.
But one area where these channels fall short is in their ability to help us go deeper. There are plenty of aspects of following Christ which need us to go deep: getting to grips with parts of God’s character, really understanding a part of the Bible, or getting a well-rounded perspective on facets of discipleship, like prayer or holiness. And often, what we get from these rapid-fire, instant mediums is more of an assault on our thinking than a means to shape it.
This is where books come into their own. While books require more effort, more time, more commitment and less distraction to get the most out of them, these challenges are actually their greatest potential reward.
Books reward those who put in the effort to read them. Of course, we can say a lot for how books have a greater permanence than a scrolling newsfeed, how they allow the reader to engage at their own pace, how you can easily move forward and back and reread sections to help you understand what the writer is saying, and about how we’re more likely to remember what we read on paper than on a screen.
An IKEA Idea
A few years ago, Swedish furniture giant IKEA launched an ad campaign for their new printed catalog, spoofing the Apple ads of the day. ‘BookBook’ came fully charged, with an eternal battery life, and no cables. Zero lag, as each page loads instantaneously, with tactile, touch based navigation. ‘A device so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar’, they said.
It actually sounds quite appealing in our digitally-saturated world!
Of course, the number one book we should be getting into in order to go deeper is the Bible itself, especially in print form, for all the reasons mentioned above. And there really is much to be gained from switching off our phone, tablet, laptop, TV, smartwatch and whatever else for a few minutes, in order to spend undistracted time reading and reflecting on the Word of God.
Beyond the Bible
Thankfully, over the years, there have been many good books thoughtfully written about the things we ought to be going deeper in. And for those who find the jump from digital to analog a bit too much just yet (or the ‘I’m not much of a reader’ types), the good news is that there are plenty of good Christian books available for ereaders and as audiobooks from retailers such as the Amazon, Audible and Apple’s iBooks.
Just think, you could get your teeth into a good book while you’re driving to work, or mowing the lawn!
So, my challenge to you is to consider exchanging a screen for a page, an .mp4 for an .epub, or at least a podcast for an audiobook. Here’s are five suggestions to get you started, which are all available in print, ebook and audiobook formats.
Knowing God, by J.I Packer
A Call to Spiritual Reformation, by D.A. Carson
Holiness, by J.C. Ryle
The Cross of Christ, by John Stott
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis