Growing Spiritually When You Don’t Like to Read

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Each of us has a different threshold for how long we can sit still before we get a little stir crazy.

Many of our churches have a reading bias.

What I mean by that is this: we put a high emphasis on cognitive kinds of learning. And we spend a lot of time talking about spirituality in academic terms.

For example, we tend to measure a person’s spiritual health by how much “quiet time” they spend reading and reflecting on Scripture. Yet while some people enjoy quiet study and reflection, for others it can be a struggle. 

I am, admittedly, a book person. But lately I have been challenged to think about what growing in faith looks like when you’re not a reader or don't have a lot of time for reading. Here are some suggestions for engaging God creatively in your everyday life:

Listen to the Word. Maybe it’s hard for you to sit down and read, but you can listen to Scripture while commuting, working, or doing chores around the house. There are several audio versions of the Bible to choose from.

In addition, many churches provide CDs or audio links to the pastor's sermons online for people to listen to if they missed church. Revisiting old sermons or listening to another pastor can give you a fresh perspective.

Worship. Sometimes we devalue the emotional experience of connecting with God through singing or listening to or playing music. But for many people, music feeds the soul even more than Scripture and prayer. 

Small Groups. Studying Scripture with a group of people can be a great way to process and learn about the text—especially if the idea of journaling makes you cringe. In addition, many devotional books are available for small group study, and many of those come with a DVD. This allows people to learn from a book without necessarily reading it.

Prayer. Often we think of prayer as something that can only take place in a very quiet, reflective space. Yet each of us has a different threshold for how long we can sit still in solitude before we get a little stir crazy. Thankfully, God hears prayer even if we're moving around. Driving and doing chores are often good times for me to pray about things that are going on in my life.

Modeling. Character formation—“training ourselves for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:8)—is an important part of spiritual growth. Spending time with a friend or coworker who has a strong relationship with God can provide an opportunity for growth as we see the fruit of the Spirit on display in real-life contexts.

This list is by no means exhaustive. But it's my hope that we can give each other permission to interact with God in ways that don’t necessarily involve reading. In this way, we encourage all people to grow in Christ—regardless of age, personality, or abilities.

About the Author

A.J. Gretz is a student at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. He and his wife, Anna, attend Oakdale Park CRC in Grand Rapids.

See comments (1)


Thanks AJ.  I think I understand what you are saying.  It would seem that the knowledge of God is important, by whatever means we can avail ourselves of it.  But even more important to spirituality is what we do with what we know, whether little or much.  James 1:22 suggests we should being doers of the word and not just hearers deluding ourselves into thinking that knowledge equals spirituality.  I would imagine that God’s welcoming embrace at heaven’s gate will especially be for those who put what small or great knowledge they had into practice.  That’s true spirituality, isn’t it?