When we asked for reports from our readers’ book clubs, we noticed that all of the reports were sent in by women. While we are thrilled that so many in our denomination are finding fellowship over books, we’re pretty sure Christian Reformed-related book clubs are not solely the domain of women! Men and children, let’s hear from you, too.
My church has had many kinds of book discussions over the years. Not surprisingly, small groups often choose to explore issues with books. Beyond that, while we have a 20-year-old book club for women, we have had a number of other formats.
Not Just Fiction
For quite a while we had a faithful book club that met over books with a scientific or philosophical bent; the attendees included more men than women. Books that address current events or the cultural zeitgeist may attract different readers than a list that is heavy on fiction.
Include Young People
Our women’s book club has at times chosen a popular young adult (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) or juvenile novel (Wonder by R. J. Palacio) for a summer meeting and then specifically invited the girls of our congregation to join us to talk about it. It’s a great opportunity for an intergenerational exploration of what younger readers find compelling about a given book and the issues it addresses.
Youth group leaders have also led some book club events exclusively for our teen members. These have included discussions of The Giver by Lois Lowry, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, and The Fault in Our Stars byJohn Green. Students often feel passionate about a particular novel, and after a few awkward opening moments, it’s not hard to tap into their thoughts on it. We’ve found that choosing a novel that has particular relevance to situations students may find themselves in will open discussion about their day-to-day lives.
Include the Whole Congregation
The congregation has also had a few “One Church, One Book” events where the entire church was encouraged to read a particular book and attend a session about what we read. I can remember doing this with More than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice, as well as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
So how is your church bonding over books? Send us your ideas!