Poll Studies the Reading Habits of Today's Pastors

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More than 90 percent of pastors buy at least one book per month.

The Barna Group evaluated the reading habits of pastors in the U.S. and found that 92 percent of pastors buy at least one book per month and on average purchase more than three. Compared with the average American, who purchases less than 10 books per year, it’s clear that pastors as a whole are “voracious” readers. 

By way of background, the study results released by The Barna Group explained, “There are 315,000 Protestant houses of worship in the United States — that’s compared to approximately 13,000 McDonalds and 4,000 Walmarts. Or, to put it another way: more than 300,000 people who purchase, on average, 3.8 books per month. That’s not counting the number of books purchased by people influenced by pastors, such as other ministry staff and congregants, likely driving the total number of books even higher.”

When asked to identify the types of books they have read recently, pastors identified spirituality, theology and leadership most frequently. Other popular subjects include prayer, history, cultural trends and church practice. About half of pastors are reading biographies and one-third are consuming business books. Fiction is a slightly less prevalent category among pastors compared to the general population.

Almost half of pastors said they use a digital device like an e-reader or an iPad. That number is nearly triple that of two years ago. Even so, more than half of pastors still prefer reading hardcover books to either paper back or digital.


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  • John

    The big reason I read so much is to remain creative (everything from sermon prep to newsletter articles.) And I think Jesus would have been a voracious reader, too. He was certainly an avid observer of the world around him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slimdels4real Bamidele Samuel Joseph

    Reading is Leading, if we cant read then we cant lead. You are very Correct @John

    • wood

      I agree my Brother

  • Cheapskate

    I almost never buy books – I can more than enough to read for free on the internet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abiodunbamidele.gpmi Abiodun Bamidele

    This generation expects much more than dexterity in theology from pastors. The pastor is expected to know at least a little about much. Above all, the divine mandate has not changed – ” STUDY to show thyself approved…” There is no other way out!

  • Patrice

    Some of the best advice I receive in seminary was by a pastor who reads no less then three books a week. His advice was “Keep up with what people are talking about, reading, and what is going on in current events. The best way to do this is read and understand the background of what is happening.”