A reading project in which everyone who lived alongside the Thames was encouraged to read Jerome K. Jerome’s classic Three Men in a Boat sparked Steve Barnett into action.
‘The Big Thames Valley Read gave people something in common to talk about,’ said Steve, who runs St Andrews Bookshop. ‘I wondered if it would work in a church setting. If we could encourage people to read the same book at the same time it would build fellowship, create a sense of shared experience and deepen faith.’
During lockdown, Steve Barnett and Andy Lyon from publishers HodderFaith agreed to create the National Big Church Read – if either John Mark Comer or Pete Greig joined in. Both said yes!
One year on, there have been two National Big Church Reads. The third began this week, on May 24, focussing on How to Pray by Pete Greig. The fourth read follows in September with Bouncing Forward by Patrick Reagan.
‘We encourage groups and churches to journey through the book together with the author,’ said Steve. ‘The author records a short video for each week that can be played from the Big Church Read website in which the author encourages people to talk about the book.’
What has excited Steve, whose bookshop will exhibit at CRE National (Oct 12-14), is that some people are drawn into reading who might not normally do so – and many read the whole book.
‘We discovered that a third of the Christians said they didn’t usually read Christian books while many said they did not finish a book they had started,’ he said. ‘Every one of the people who did not normally read the whole book, did so. We are hearing of how groups have been drawn closer, lives changed and faith deepened. That is why more than 90 per cent of those who have already been involved in a Big Church Read say they will be joining another.’
Click here for more information.
• St Andrew’s Bookshop are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Surrey)
CRE National 2021
12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey
CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Your new 60-page products and services guide. Nothing beats reading it!