Thanks to all of you who gave me feedback on the idea of lending out the book The Hole in Our Gospel. (If you don't recall the post, link here.) Quite a few people emailed, commented or Facebooked me about some kind of church library. I have to be honest with you, though--I'm not a fan of church libraries for several reasons including that they take up a room but are rarely used and the books in them are usually second-rate or badly damaged. They seem to quickly fall into disrepair and obscurity after the initial flurry of use. Maybe some of you have had a different experience and could convince me otherwise, but that's my honest opinion.
That doesn't mean we can't have one, though. The world doesn't revolve around my preferences, as much as I wish it did sometimes. :-)
So..........We can have a church "library" if...
- someone "owns" it as a ministry (no staff will be involved except to okay the plans)
- people are okay with it dying if the person who owns it quits doing it and doesn't get a replacement (again, no staff will come in to "save the program")
- it doesn't take up a room (it can take up some of our storage space, but we simply don't have a room available, even if we wanted to give one up for that purpose)
- it's not an eye-sore when it is in service (it has to fit our ambiance)
- there's a system for ensuring the books are worth lending out
- no one asks for money from the church budget to get this going or keep it going. In other words, it will need to be creative and (please don't take this wrongly) it won't be modeled after the library at your grandmother's church. :-)
I think it can be done, but it would take a leader (not just a book lover).
Most of what I listed can be applied to other ministry ideas you might have. I want to see more of our people take this kind of initiative and innovation in ministry. But we can't and should not fund every idea for a whole bunch of reasons. I like the way David Browning puts it in Deliberate Simplicity. Their church staff and budget focus on three things only: Worship, Small Groups and Outreach. But their members have started a variety of other ministries. Browning writes:
While there are a limited number of programs that a Deliberately Simple church may initiate, there are an unlimited number of ministries that individuals may initiate. While corporate programs are discouraged, individual ministries are encouraged.
So, I think it would be pretty cool if someone started something I don't think is worth starting and proved me wrong. That's not only cool, it's healthy.