I love attending church conferences and see where “everyone” shops. I remember when the bold, embroidered, afflictions/Ed Hardy style was in. It seemed that every pastor under 60 was sporting some Ed Hardy. Now when you attend conferences, you see that style has changed and all the pastors got the same memo. Their style evolved, except for that one dude still rocking out the leather and Ed Hardy (sorry if that’s you’ we are still brothers in Christ).
This also happens with influences. Certain authors, speakers, pastors come en vogue, many of them because they have great things to say. One thing I have learned to do is to diversify who influences me. Just like style, everyone is reading C.S. Lewis again, or everyone is reading _____________ (the newest book) by ____________. While these resources may be very good, it is prudent to put some work and research into who you allow to influence your life.
1. I try to listen to and read individuals outside of my style, denominational, or philosophical sphere.
I find that when I listen to or read similar influences I become one dimensional as a leader/pastor. Therefore, what might seems out of style or old fashioned, I will try out. There are some absolutes duds out there, but when you mine for resources and truth you will find it. It just takes work.
I like to listen to Carter Conlon from “Times Square Church”.
2. I try to read secular authors on topics that combat my worldview.
This helps me stay close to the real world. Many times my preaching can become very “church” like and lose touch with how people with a secular worldview feel about you. It is easy to argue a fictional combatant, but when you pick up their work its strange how real it becomes.
This is easy. Just google certain topics and read their articles.
3. I try to read the living and the dead.
This is something my Dad taught me. For every author that he reads who is still alive and writing, he reads a dead author. I know that this isn’t very scientific, but it is an easy way to stay diversified. Plus, it’s really cool to see that they were dealing with the same issues in the 1800’s that we are now.
One dead author that has been good for me is Thomas Goodwin who wrote, “Christ Set Forth.”
How do you diversify your influences?