Kilby and I were privileged to serve in Brussels, Belgium, in 2020. Many of you helped us to ‘go.’ We learned so much during that season; we made so many deep friendships, discipled several young friends, and we met and shared with home groups to encourage local outreach, evangelism, and missions. I learned a lot from the church elders, specifically the pastor, and had opportunity to preach the Word. We loved our time there, and we will forever cherish those memories.
Roland, the pastor I studied under, made use of what was called “The Augustine Book Table.” This international church had members from dozens of countries around the globe gathering under one roof to worship Christ, hear from the Word, and fellowship together. From young children to the elderly, singles to larger families, it was truly quite an array. Also, every profession must have been accounted for within the Body. There were always visitors present each Sunday. So, gathered together, were people from all over the spectrum regarding relationship with Jesus and Bible literacy.
So what was this table I mentioned?
Well, it was actually a small table and rollaway cart.
These were located near the sanctuary entrance/exit, filled with winsome books which the pastor heartily commended to the Church and to visitors, for sale at below-reasonable pricing. Why? Well, we need to take in good, healthy material as God’s people. Also, we can walk through a bookstore with the best of intentions, or scroll on Amazon, and pick out a really bad book. We can also pick out a really good book. One of the best ways to ensure the latter, is to receive recommendations from a trusted friend who loves the Lord and diligently studies the Word.
As we are growing in our faith, we want people to help us along, and it is Biblical to seek and find just that. This is what Roland was doing for the congregation by way of The Augustine Book Table. He was helping people find books that positively reflected the teachings of Scripture, helped with practical application, while remaining readable (accessible) to those who have not been through formal Bible training. As Christians, we all participate in the school of discipleship. We are wanting to learn, to live out our faith truly. The Bible will always be our top priority. By God’s grace, many books have been written to help us understand the Scriptures more clearly.
Biographies have spurred me on in sacrificial service to the Lord. Commentaries have brought insight and answers to confusing passages. Theological writings have helped to turn my mind to things above, rather than only earthly things. Paul Tripp’s book on Suffering has helped me through hard battles with Biblical perspective. Francis Schaeffer has given form and insight to my worldview. The Getty’s have helped me to Sing! It’s amazing how the Lord can use a book. God has worked mightily in our lives by the writings of many saints. We have also seen the impact a book can have on a friend or a stranger as well.
Maybe some of you have previously received a book from Kilby and me. We like to make book-giving a regular thing. We have been impacted by the timeless books generously placed in our hands by thoughtful givers, and we want to do the same. However, we can’t give everyone the books we love (though we tried with A Praying Life, by Paul Miller; we bought and distributed all the used copies the interweb had to offer). But, we can regularly recommend good resources, as has been well-modeled for us.
So in the coming weeks, I’ll be offering some simple recommendations here on the blog via ‘The Augustine Book Table’ series. I hope this will encourage you to research and read good books. Life is short, and we need to be filling up on the good stuff. As Spurgeon has said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” We agree in full.
Pastors, this may be a helpful avenue for rightly influencing your congregation beyond Sundays and small groups!