A few weeks ago, I went into the Buford LifeWay store to purchase some books to help me with the Christian Learning Center class I teach, as well as my Wednesday night messages to youth. As I normally do, I went over the LifeWay online catalog to make sure they carried the books I wanted, then made my list and went to the store hoping to find at least one or two of them in stock.
Now, the type of books I went searching for are – admittedly – a bit on the nerdy side. Books on philosophy, worldview, apologetics, and theology just aren’t popular for some reason (insert sarcasm font). They get relegated to a single shelf near the back, and I understand why: as Christians, we much prefer the books that tell us how to have a better life than the ones that tell us how to know God better. I get it.
But when I went looking for my titles, I couldn’t find a single one. Nada. Zero. Zip. In fact, there were no books on philosophy or worldview on the shelves at all, and precious few on apologetics.
As someone who worked for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, I was disappointed. Hurt. Angry.
Granted, not everyone is a nerd like me, but we are all called to know and understand our faith with great depth and conviction. For there not to be a single book in the store to help us deepen our understanding of the basic philosophical principles and worldview concepts of the faith…unbelievable.
And unfortunate. It perpetuates the stereotype that to be a Christian means you can’t be intelligent. Or well-thought.
So I tweeted my frustration to Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of LifeWay, mentioning the specific store and my disappointment at the books not carried. Not only did he respond to me personally (via Twitter and email) he offered to make it right.
And so today, when I went to pick up some books that I ordered, I checked the theology shelf of the store, just to see if there had been any change.
It was loaded with books on philosophy, worldview and apologetics. I can’t say that my one or two little tweets did all that, but it was gratifying to me to see that there was such a quick change in such a short time. While I’m reasonably sure that LifeWay was probably sold out of those types of books when I was in the store two weeks ago, I still felt like pointing out the need for such books was the right thing to do.
We live in an incredible time: via the power of social media, I was able to not only connect with the president of our denomination’s largest public arm, but I was able to (possibly) affect change within that organization. Twitter may often be a repository of dull and useless “insights” from people with too much time on their hands, but it can also be a powerful tool to reach people and make a difference.
But even greater than the coolness of Twitter is the power we have in speaking up. It’s not a horrible scandal for LifeWay to not carry a ton of philosophy books, but it is wrong for us as Christians to be okay with not exercising our minds. It’s wronger still for us to not to call out the church when we’re not doing what Scripture says (see Matt. 22:37, 1 Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 4:1-4).
So let me encourage you this week to speak up when you see something that needs addressing – whether it’s within the church or within the culture around you. We are called to be witnesses to God everywhere we go (Matt. 28:19-20), so let us witness to those around us with the hope that accountability can bring positive change.