building with books (the fridea)

I was remembering this week about visiting Willow Creek Community Church several years ago, and how I found a little “study nook” tucked away with some Christian commentaries and “classics” for public use right there on the campus. I’ve written about that idea for college ministries before, but it’s fairly simple – with some potential “twists” that might make it even easier or more fun. So here’s an expanded version of that Fridea from awhile back.

Have you ever considered building a theological or biblical studies library for your students’ use?

Students have access to all sorts of theological resources online nowadays, so I’d probably lean toward the latter category – biblical studies – if I was building a library right now. (And it’s a great help for your own teaching prep, too.) Having a couple of great, accessible commentaries on each book of the Bible might be a great place to start. This wouldn’t be a scholar’s library, but you might want to go beyond simply having devotional commentaries, too. The new editions of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, the Tyndale Old and New Testament Commentary, and the NIV Application Commentary would probably be where I’d start, since cost isn’t terribly prohibitive and the scholarship is good… without students needing to know biblical languages.

If you’re a support-raising college minister, this seems like a no-brainer for a specific “special ask” – either a one-time request, or an ongoing line item allowing you to continue to build out the library for years and years.

Another option is to “go in” with other college ministers, building something that can be used by students from any college ministry. On a few campuses out there, this idea is wrapped up in a Christian Study Center of some sort (which is a fantastic approach). But all you need is space (and see below on that).

Of course, plenty of college ministers don’t have buildings available, or even if we do, they’re not readily accessible to most students on a regular basis. Never fear – there are a couple of options there:

  • Make sure your school’s library has available, Evangelical commentaries. If they don’t, ask about getting some donated. Not only would that impact your students, it would be a cool way to be a great member of the campus community.
  • This may be one of the better ways Unity gets practical. If you don’t have a building but one college ministry does, is this something you could build together?

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