Reading comprehension. Have you regressed?

Half of all Americans are functionally illiterate, meaning they can read restaurant menus, signs, billboards, and Facebook posts made by friends, but they are currently not able to learn much by reading a book... so they do not read whole books.

In fact, a LOT of educated Americans don't read books according to recent polls. 58% of American college grads never read another book after they complete their education.

Most of this stems from the internet delivering 500 word articles and Youtube videos, combined with one other statistic that is simply alarming: The average American watches 4 hours of television every day!

I must admit that I watch far too much television myself and while I read all day, every day in my role at TOUCH Outreach, I don't read for pleasure in the evenings and weekends.

Now here's another fact that's even more alarming than the ones I shared above:

If you don't continue to read at the same pace and depth as you did when you were in school, you will slowly regress to an 8th grade reading level, which is what it takes to read a restaurant menu and function in society.

Holy cow that's just scary on so many levels, and it reveals something important for ministry leaders:

If you want your people to read a book, you must be willing to walk them through the content a few pages per week with lots of interaction and verbal processing.

Expecting people to read a book you hand them to enhance their ministry as a small group leader is probably a waste of your time and the church's money. The book will gather dust for the most part ... or if they're resourceful like me, it will be added to the "sell yours here - new and used listings" on within a week of receipt!

Fully grasping all this as a small groups pastor should make your head spin. The way you've trained leaders and discipled people in the past must be completely revisited.

Books are still quite relevant, and like me, you should urge your friends to turn off the TV at least one evening a week to sit and read for an hour or two, just to stimulate the part of the brain that isn't working when a person watches a show.


Unknown said...

So true! However, I feel you have to try it at least once to see if you have any avid readers(or people passionate enough about groups to plod through one).
I have a team of 6 that volunteer with me. I bought them all a copy of Sticky Church(great book btw). Out of the six, I know three were read based on conversations about the book. Next book I buy, I will only buy three and then offer to loan my book to the other people. Most likely I won't be taken up on the offer and thats ok.

What I will do for those three non-readers is try to pour vision into them through short emails. I will take what I thought was important from the book, and relay it to them in short bursts, thus hopefully getting the message out to them.

It has worked fairly well in the past...

God Bless!

Randall Neighbour said...

Joseph, you should read my book review of Sticky Church. I like parts of it and really dislike parts of it too.