How I Read as a Pastor (2022 Edition)

Feb 01, 2022

It's fascinating to see how other people work. Especially other pastors. 

A vitally important area of the work of a pastor is reading.

In fact, if a given pastor's work doesn't include a high volume of reading, their well will eventually run dry.

So, practically speaking, what does it look like to read well as a pastor?

Well, in this article (or in the video above), I'm going to show you how I read as a pastor.

This is going to be as practical as possible. It's what I would love to see more of but don't often get to. So, why not "be the change I want to see in the world?!" 

Here we go.

How I Read as a Pastor (2022 Edition)

My Reading Goal

In the last couple of years, I haven't read as much as I'd like to. So this year, I made a reading goal that is input based versus output based.

My reading goal? 25 pages a day, five days a week.

Have I hit my goal every day this month? No. (I'm tracking this through an app called, Done - the free version).

But I'm still reading more than I was in the last couple years so I'm happy with my progress.

Now, you may be thinking, 25 pages isn't a lot, Brandon. I agree. Except I don't read for reading sake, I mostly read to learn. So that means that as I'm reading, I'm taking notes which inherently slows me down. More on that later.

Devotional Bible Reading

The morning time is when I do this. I'll either dig into the word in the early morning hours (5-7am) at my home office or it will happen first thing in the church office (8:30am). 

In different seasons, this has looked... different. 

At times, I've used an ESV Journaling Bible and mark it up as I go. Other times, I've read from my preaching Bible without any marking happening while I go. And lately, I've switched my devotional reading to the Cambridge ESV Wide Margin (Hardback) that I mark up a lot.

Next week, I'll be starting the 5 Day Bible Reading Plan alongside a few other people. To begin 2022, I've been soaking in the Psalms.

Deep Dive Bible Reading

When it comes time for me to dig deeply into the word, looking at the original languages, cross-checking multiple translations, looking at cross-references, and, eventually, looking at commentaries (typically for sermon prep), I use Logos Bible Software.

I only access the commentaries after I've spent a lot of time studying the text on my own. And once I do open the commentaries in Logos, I stick to two or three. If I get into more, it's too much. 

When I first got Logos back in late 2018, I would get lost in all the commentaries--I hadn't had really any outside of free stuff on the internet (shout out to Precept Austin and the rest of these resources). Studying deeply alongside others is important, but spending time digging into the word in exegesis and personal reflection should never be ignored.

Future Sermon Series Research

Depending on what is on my sermon calendar, this could be a light load or a very heavy load. I'm currently in a season when this is a heavy load.

When it's a series that requires a lot of up-front research, I'll do research on recommended resources on the topic, make a resource list, and then make an order. Thankfully, I have an expenditure account I can use for book purchases.

Since I plan my preaching out a year at a time, this allows me to plan well in advance for upcoming sermon series. 

RSS Reader for Daily/Weekly Insights

To keep track of the many blogs and websites out there that are putting out valuable content, I'm still using an RSS Reader. The one I use has a free version that I've been using for years. It's called Inoreader.

I'll jump into my RSS Reader on a mostly daily basis and see what people are talking about. If I read something that I want to save to reference in some way, I'll clip it into Evernote using the Evernote Web Clipper. If it's something I want to read again soon or send to someone, I'll save it to Pocket.

Week-to-Week Sermon Research

In addition to future sermon series research, I'm doing sermon research and study for the next sermon that's in the hopper.

So in addition to my "deep dive Bible reading" that I talk about above, I'll reference prior research I've done leading up to the week and/or look up certain things I'm curious about. Additionally, I'll chase down some connections I'm thinking about making in the message.

Theology, Leadership, Ministry, Craft, Life Book Stack

These are books that are not necessarily connected to an upcoming sermon series. They are books I'm reading for on-going learning. 

It's a wide bucket that can include a vast array of genres and topics.

At Home Reading

Most of what I've talked about has been devotional or work-related reading. And while I do end up reading quite a bit of what I mentioned above at home (I have a home office that I work from at least once a week and I'll also get started in the early mornings in my home office most days), this takes into account the reading I do that includes fiction, biography, history, memoir, and any other random genre I might be interested in reading about.

Occasional Audio Book Through Libby

If you haven't heard of the Libby App, I'm sorry. Allow me to redeem whomever in your life failed to mention it to you.

Libby is a mobile app that connects you to your local library's digital books. It features eBooks and audio books you can borrow. All you need is your library card to log in.

Audio books. For free.

Yeah, you're welcome.

Now, the unfortunate thing is it's a library system so there may be a book or two you want to read but instead of being able to borrow it right away, you have to place a hold. So there's that.

Audible User: You get what you pay for!

Me: *Scoff*

Okay, truth be told, I use the Libby app sparingly. More in some seasons than others. But it's there when I want to "read" an audio book for free. I'll take it. What do I read? Typically nonfiction books that seem interesting.

Yes, I did "read" Matthew McConaughey's Greenlights most recently through the Libby app if you must know.

Note-Taking While Reading

When I'm reading for any purpose other than for fun, I'll mark up the book while I read it and record my highlights or underlines either straight into an Evernote note or into a hand-written notebook (once I'm done, I'll scan that into Evernote).

Tracking My Reading Through Good Reads

I keep track of the books I am reading through Good Reads. It's been a simple, straightforward way to track what I've read over the last few years. I make it a point to, at the very least, leave a rating for a book I finish. And I'm quite generous. If I give a book lower than four stars, I likely had some major issues with it.

But I don't regularly read books that haven't been recommended to me in some way or another. So it's not often that I start a book that is subpar. But if I do start a book that isn't offering much value, I don't finish it. And if I don't finish it, I don't bother doing anything else with it other than remove it from my Good Reads account (if I remember).

What are your reading habits like?

I'd love to hear from you. Create a YouTube video about it and send me the link. Share your process in our Facebook group. Or write up your own article.

Grow in Your Preaching

If you want to be faithful to the text, prepare efficiently, and craft your sermon memorably, I’ve got just the thing to help. It’s called the 10-step guide to writing a sticky sermon and it’s yours for free. Just click here to grab your copy.

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