I realize Christmas is a long ways off but let me explain why I’m posting this now. As a pastor I buy many Christian books for people as gifts for Christmas. We spend more during the month of December than any month of the year. Pastors don’t necessarily have a high salary. But someone with a pastoral heart would want their congregation to grow spiritually using all available means including introducing good spiritual readings to the lives entrusted to their care. It’s good to foster personal devotions of a church member outside of Sunday service. But it doesn’t help that there’s also a lot of bad selections in “Christian books” that’s not theologically solid. So how does one find good solid Christian books on the cheap for the many people in your lives? While I have pastors in mind with this post I think this is helpful for all of God’s people as well. Here’s what I do:
- The first point of course is to shop early, and to keep an eye out for good books all year long. This is why we are writing a post on Christmas gifts in January.
- Regularly scan Ligonier’s $5 Friday. Every Friday Ligonier ministries sells their resources for the ridiculously good price of $5. While there’s a lot of electronic format of books and audios there’s also books and physical audio sets that’s in the mix. So don’t miss it! Check it out here.
- If you go to Pastor’s conference like Shepherd’s Conference, look for books for your people. I’m going to focus on the Shepherd’s Conference as an example. Christian Publishers from all over the world is there. It’s like a Pastor’s Disneyland with the dazzling array of Christian books! If you are like me, there’s so many books at the book store that I want to get for my exegesis, and growth in theology or as a pastor. Each day during the conference I’m surveying the land of milk and honey and having fun with thinking about what I am going to buy strategically with the gift cards for books that the Conference makes available to those who register. While you are looking for books for yourself, keep an eye out also for books for your people. If there’s a deal, why not buy books for your people early in March and relieve some stress that would come in December? Also I love the free books that the Shepherd’s Conference gives. While I don’t think this myself, I know some people has decided that some of the books might not be useful, especially the “easy ones.” So why not use them as gifts for God’s people if they are solid?
- Sign up for Newsletter from Publishers. Sometimes there are discounts and deals.
- My favorite publishers is Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing. P&R have a section for Bargain Books and even Super Bargain Books. These are bargains because the Publishers have said they “may not be in the best condition.” In the past I have found some to be still pretty good. While all sales are final, even if there are books that you might not think is something gift worthy, I think they make good books to still use in our settings. In the past I have had them displayed as free books on our evangelism table. Once a year in our mid-week fellowship I give out books that I have read and don’t need that I let people know a head of time are not necessarily in the best condition but they are good for the soul. I put solid books that turns out not “gift worthy” for Christmas time in the mix. I think God’s people would more than appreciate this. Especially if they are books that you have read before and have ministered to you or you are transparent that these are books you wanted originally to give as gifts for people but it didn’t work out but it’s still good Christian books. It’s “Christian freebies” but with a personal touch.
- Christian Audio in different time of the year has great deals of physical Audio MP3 and CD. Take advantage of that. Of course Christian audio has everything “Christian,” and not all are solid so you need to be discerning. People these days might read less but they commute and might be more willing to listen to an audio book. This is especially good for people you know that might not read the books you give them.
- Finally in a post on how to save money buying good Christian as gifts for Christmas, I also think its important to cultivate a generous heart. It’s not all about “bargains.” What we do for the Lord and what we do in love should involve some cost. Your goal isn’t to be a coupon commando or a cheap skate. As you buy good gifts even on a bargain you will discover the costs mounting. But it’s ok. Do it out of love for God, not with a grudge. Keep your Savior Christ in the focus and it seems rather trivial to think of the costs of books for people as a “burden” or a trial. Don’t waste your Christmas shopping opportunity as a pastor. Don’t waste that opportunity to do your shopping as a way of savoring your Savior.