The Deliberate Practice of Reading, Explained

One of my greatest passions is reading.

I developed this passion at an early age, and have continued to strengthen it over the years. In addition to being my passion, reading is also an important part of my role as Vision Room Curator at Auxano. In that role, I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix every two weeks. SUMS Remix is a modified book excerpt in which I develop a solution to a common problem faced by church leaders from 3 different books. So, preparing SUMS Remix in 2019 alone means I have gone through over 100 leadership and organization development books to arrive at the 76 used in producing 26 issues this year.

Other parts of my role requires reading current trends books, used for social media posting and content writing.

Then there’s my passion area of Guest Experience, in which I am constantly researching customer service books for application for churches. I’m building The Essential Guest Experience Library.

And, as many readers know, I am a Disney Fanatic – which extends to building a Disney library, currently over 405 volumes and growing!

Finally, there’s just the pure pleasure of reading – an almost nightly hour or two in the late evening reading a wide range of books, both brand new and classics, fiction and nonfiction.

Add those 5 categories all together, and by the end of 2019 I will have added 268 books to my library, and brought home another 110 books from the library. 

First, a disclaimer: I did not read all 378 cover to cover. With such an immense (and pleasurable) task in front of me, and knowing there is more to my job than reading, I have to resort to some method of finding out what an author is trying to say without reading the whole book. There’s dozens of that total in which I only read the “highlights,” following the methods below.

To get the most out of a book in the least amount of time, try this strategy:

  • Read the title.
  • Read the introduction
  • Read the Table of Contents
  • Flip through the material, scanning the chapter titles and subheadings. Note the words that stand out as bold, different colors, underlined, or italicized.
  • Examine the illustrations, captions, charts and diagrams. Read the pull-quotes and sidebars.
  • Scan through the index looking for buzz words that interest you.
  • Read the first chapter.
  • Flip through the book and read the first sentence of each paragraph in each chapter. In a well written and edited book, the most important sentence containing the topic is usually the first sentence of the paragraph — but not always.
  • Read the last chapter. If there is an executive summary, read it.
  • Read any other information on the cover or dust jacket.

If the book captures your attention after doing the above tasks, then by all means dive right in!

The converse is true: if a book doesn’t capture your attention after a few attempts, stop reading it. Pick out another one on the topic – there are always more waiting for you!

With that caveat in mind, my “cover-to-cover” reading for 2019 was 213 books.

For the curious, like picking your favorite child (I have four), I don’t typically make a “Best of” list for the year. I find some value in almost every book I read, and for me, that’s good enough.

I talked about that in a recent podcast with Bryan Rose. You can listen here.

While the knowledge gained from reading is important, the real benefit is from the habit of reading. When you are continually reading, you condition your mind to keep taking in new knowledge. Your thinking remains fresh and sharp. Your brain is always churning on new ideas, looking for new connections it can make. Every day you pour in more ideas, which your brain must find a way to integrate into your existing knowledge base. Frequent reading fires up your neural activity, even during the periods when you aren’t reading.

Reading is a gift that you can unselfishly give yourself, one that truly keeps on giving. Why don’t you bless yourself and those around you by reading a new book in the first weeks of 2020, and sharing its wisdom with others?

Me? Well, I’m visiting one of my favorite bookstores later this week, I’ve got three books lined up for delivery by the end of this week, and I’m headed to the library today to pick up another couple on reserve.

After all, you can’t read all day…

…if you don’t start in the morning!

 

> Read more from Bob.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 40 years. They have 4 children, 3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 5 grandchildren.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Essential Reads for Better Guest Welcomes

Summer (or anytime) is a great time for reading – even if you’re not on vacation. Admittedly, I’m biased. I’m a voracious reader – to the tune of 3-5 books per week. Yep – you read that right! For me, reading is a discipline – but it’s also a gift.

You should be a reader, too, because leaders are readers. To explore that thought, click here. Over on my other website, 27gen, you will find a LOT about books. For starters, there is a weekly excerpt from past issues of SUMS Remix (a book excerpt published by Auxano every other week). You can read more about SUMS Remix here.

But for now, and for this website, here are some new – and new to me – books that will help you become a better Guest Experience Leader.

Beginning Monday June 3, and on every Monday throughout the summer, I will be featuring a few quick nuggets from each book relating to the Guest Experience. I call it a “book teaser” and when they are published, I will link them in the list above.

And if you’re really curious, follow this link to The Essential Guest Experience Library. It’s a listing of several hundred Guest Experience related books I have accumulated over the years. Look for an interesting book title – and “check it out” at your local library or purchase from your favorite bookstore. (The books above and in my Library are linked to my Amazon Affiliate page. Purchasing them from the link will not cost you any more, but will provide a small amount to help me continue expanding my Guest Experience library!).

Want to know more about reading, or any of the books mentioned above or in my library? Leave a comment below or contact me!

So – what will you be reading this summer to become a better Guest Experience Leader?

> Read more from Bob.


 

Want to know more about Guest Experiences at your church? Let’s talk! Connect with an Auxano Navigator here.

How about bringing you team (up to 5 people) to Auxano’s Guest Experience Boot Camp coming to Palm Beach, FL, February 26-27? Find out the details (and register) here!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 40 years. They have 4 children, 3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 5 grandchildren.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

When You Need a Discipleship Strategy But Don’t Know Where to Begin

Below is a new weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 


How do churches make disciples?

It is perhaps the central question churches face, and only some of them actually have a well-defined answer. As Mike Breen says, “The problem is that most of us have been educated and trained to build, serve, and lead the organization of the church. Most of us have actually never been trained to make disciples.”

Do we now define disciple as someone who attends worship somewhat regularly, gives to us financially, and engages in acts of evangelism and kindness every once in a while?

Solution: Lead people to know God, not just know about God.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen

Building a Discipling Culture is the product of more than twenty-five years of hands-on discipleship practice in a post-Christian context that has turned into a world-wide movement, dealing specifically with making the types of missional disciples Jesus spoke of.

We all want to make disciples – most of us are just unsure how to do it.

Jesus did not command us to build the church; He called us to make disciples. Building a Discipling Culture shows that effective discipleship creates the church, not the other way around.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The truth is that many churches equate discipleship with knowledge. Churches who view discipleship as simply information to be transferred want to cram as much biblical knowledge into as many people as quickly as they can.

The command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 is to “Go…and make disciples…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded.” The end goal of discipleship is not merely knowing all Jesus commanded, but obeying all Jesus commanded.

And that is a big difference.

The truth of Scripture is meant to be worked out in us, not something that we hold as an abstract reality.

Why are we assuming that simply by giving people information (e.g. pray, read the Bible, read doctrinal statements, be a part of a small group) they actually know how to do it or can figure it out by themselves? I can read a book on how to perform open heart surgery. If you go into cardiac arrest, do you want me to operate on you?

We have become so acculturated in our Cartesian, Western world that we believe knowing about something and knowing something are the same thing. What we have managed to do is teach people about God. Teach them about prayer. Teach them about mission. The point isn’t that they would just know about it but to know it.

Discipleship isn’t a random assortment of facts and propositions and behaviors, discipleship is something that is you to the core and is completely incarnated in you. If it is information, it is information that has worked its way into you and is now part of you, in the same way that John talks about the logos being wrapped up in the person of Jesus: “The Word became flesh.” It goes from being information to being knowledge.

Mike Breen, Building a Discipling Culture

A NEXT STEP

The discipling relationship you must have with God is a real and personal one. The Scriptures contain many examples where individuals and groups had a real, personal, and practical relationship with God. They knew God, not just about Him. What was true in the Old and New Testaments remains true today.

  • Briefly describe an experience in your life when God was real and personal in His relationship with you.
  • As you recall that experience, what key words or phrases stand out to you that demonstrate your knowledge of God, not just a knowledge about God?
  • What challenges do you face in growing a real and personal relationship with God?
  • What intentional actions must you begin in order to sustain a real and personal relationship with God?

To learn more about developing your discipleship strategy, start a conversation with the Auxano team today.

Taken from SUMS Remix 10-2, published March 2015


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Rick Warren’s 7 Tips for Being a Better Leader by Being a Better Reader

If you’ve ever been to Israel, you know there’s a real contrast between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is full of water and full of life. There are trees and vegetation. They still do commercial fishing there. But the Dead Sea is just that – dead. There are no fish in it and no life around it. The Sea of Galilee is at the top of Israel and receives waters from the mountains of Lebanon. They all come into the top of it and then it gives out at the bottom. That water flows down through the Jordan River and enters into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea takes in but it never gives out. That’s why it’s stagnant. The point is, there must be a balance in our lives to stay fresh with both input and output. There’s got to be an inflow and an outflow.

Somebody has said, “When your output exceeds your income your upkeep will be your downfall.” There must be a balance. Most Christians get too much input and not enough output. They attend Bible study after Bible study. They’re always taking in but they’re never doing any ministry. The problem we pastors and church leaders face is the opposite. You’re always giving out, and if you don’t get input, you’ll dry up.

Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy in prison. At the end of the letter he tells Timothy, “When you come, bring my coat, bring the books, too, and especially the ones made of parchment.” (2 Timothy 4:13. ) At the end of his life, while in prison, Paul wants two things… “I want my coat and I want my books.” C. H. Spurgeon commenting on this passage says

He is inspired, yet he wants books. He has been preaching at least thirty years, yet he wants books. He’s seen the Lord, yet he wants books. He’s had a wider experience than most men, yet he wants books. He’s been caught up to heaven and has heard things that are unlawful to utter, yet he wants books. He’s written a major part of the New Testament, yet he wants books.

Oswald Sanders in his book Spiritual Leadership says. “The man [and woman] who desires to grow spiritually and intellectually will be constantly at his books.” I remember reading the biographies of both John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. Both of them were intellectual giants. They stayed fresh by having a book continually while they were on horseback riding from event to event. Everywhere they traveled, they had a book. I’ve seen drawings of Wesley with a book in one hand, reading, not even looking where his horse is going.

Leaders are readers. Every leader is a reader. Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers. A lot of people read but they’re not leaders. If you’re going to lead, you’ve got to be thinking further in advance than the people that you’re leading. There are at least four reasons reading is essential.

>  You must read for inspiration and motivation.

Harold Ockenga said, “Read to refill the wells of inspiration.” William Long, who wrote Christian Perfectionand a number of Christian classics, wrote “Reading on wise and virtuous subjects is next to prayer, the best improvement of our hearts. It enlightens us, calms us, collects us, collects our thoughts, prompts us to better efforts. We say a man is known by the friends he keeps but a man is known even better by his books.” Personally, I feel few things get me out of sluggishness than reading a good book. It gets my creative juices flowing. So the first thing I do is read for inspiration.

> You must read to sharpen your skills.

Aldous Huxley said, “Every man who knows how to read has in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the way in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.” Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Your mind is a muscle and just like any muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. You cannot wear out your mind. No one ever died of an overused mind.

Just like every other professional, you as a minister, have to continually be upgrading your skills. The way you do that is through reading. Make a list of the skills that are needed for your facet of ministry and then read in those areas.

> You must read to learn from others.

It’s wise to learn from experience but it’s even wiser to learn from the experience of others. All of us learn from the school of hard knocks — trial and error. But we don’t have time to make all the mistakes ourselves. Socrates said, “Employ your time in improving yourselves by other men’s documents, so you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.” Employ your time reading what other men have already learned and then you can learn much easier what others have labored hard for.

The fact is, you can learn from anybody. You don’t have to agree with everything they do, but everybody has something to teach you. We have assimilated lots of good ideas from many different sources and put them together in a new format and that’s what creativity is. All truth has been around forever. There are no truly new ideas. Creativity is taking existing ideas and making them work in a new way.

> You must read to stay current in a changing world.

If books are any indication of personal growth of senior pastors, a lot of pastors in America stopped thinking when they got out of school. They’re not reading anything new, yet they’re trying to speak on a weekly basis. In today’s society obsolescence comes very quickly. You can write a science textbook and by the time it gets to press it’s out of date. You cannot live out your entire ministry on what you learned in seminary. You have to keep growing and keep learning.

With that as a background, I want to share with you seven tips about how to get more out of your reading:

  1. Analyze your reading habits to see what you’ve read and what you really need to read next.
  2. Be intentional about scheduling time for reading, then read snippets of books wherever you are.
  3. Balance your reading. Read broadly. Include people you don’t agree with. This is how we are stretched.
  4. Mark up your books and take notes. If you use a reading app, make highlights and store them.
  5. Know what not to read. Know your favorite authors, read the covers and tables of contents and the bibliographies to see if the book is worth your time.
  6. Read book reviews and book summaries to process even more books in less time.
  7. Build your library. Whether you prefer print or ebooks, collect a library to reference and to leave behind.

And above all, remember that the Bible is our number one priority in reading. You can get so caught up in reading other books that you don’t read the Bible. Make time for God’s Word before reading anything else. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We need to spend more time reading it than anything else.

If you want to be a growing leader of a healthy movement, keep reading. It’s the only way to stay out front.

Read more from Rick here.

>> Check out Auxano’s SUMS Remix, referenced by Rick above in Tip #6.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.