Ministers’ Reading Habits (2017)


This first study of the reading habits of British ministers is based on a shorter and longer survey of 309 and 175 Baptist ministers respectively.  Just over half spend less than 10 hours a week reading, and almost three-quarters less than 13 hours (longer survey).  Almost half spend 21-40% of this time reading for their sermon preparation, while another 20% devote 61-80% of this time to such reading (shorter survey). In their sermon preparation 12% consult just one commentary, but 66% consult two or three commentaries (longer survey). Ministers read a wide variety of books relating to ministry in the last year – including books on Biblical studies (82%), prayer and spirituality (66%), theology (66%) and mission/outreach/evangelism (61%) (shorter survey).   Overall 39% of ministers devote 20-40 % of their time to general reading (longer survey).  In a three-month period 35% of ministers had bought five or more books (shorter survey).  Although most ministers favour print books to digital when preparing sermons, they are more open to digital media for their personal ministry development, with around 50% accessing ministry-related/theological websites (shorter survey). Of those who learnt a Biblical language, 55% have given up on Hebrew and 25% on Greek (longer survey). For 62% the NIV is the preferred English version of the Bible (longer survey).  19% have no pattern of personal Bible reading (longer survey).  61% would read more if they had more time (longer survey).  53% have no specific time in the week when they read; 54% have not availed themselves of a reading week in the last three years (shorter survey).  54% receive no financial help to buy books, while 13% receive less than £50 (longer survey).  Recommendations include a greater commitment of the denomination to developing Continuing Ministerial Development (CMD) programmes alongside annual reviews, more encouragement on the part of churches to help their ministers with their readings, and guidance from colleges not just on reading skills but on developing strategies for withstanding pressures resulting from social media.

Available to download as a PDF.