Christians who read historic Christian biography are acquainted with the benefit and enjoyment of doing so. As we read the lives and ministries of outstanding believers of the past we receive considerable inspiration and instruction for our own spiritual life and service. But many Christians have little or no awareness of this vital source of spiritual encouragement and enrichment. Here are some suggestions of how we can share the value of such biography with others:
1. Tell interesting and beneficial stories about great Christians to our young children at bedtime. I fondly remember an occasion when my three daughters were very young when I offered to tell them a story before bedtime prayer. That was a periodic feature of our nighttime family devotions, and they knew the type of tale I often shared. So they spontaneously started chanting, competition-like, the names of two individuals about whom they had heard a number of stories. “Moody! Moody!” shouted two. “Hudson! Hudson!” countered the third with equal enthusiasm. Our kids will enjoy and profit from these stories if we will but share them.
2. Read a children’s or youth biography to our kids as part of our family devotions. A few Christian publishers have produced worthwhile biography series for younger children and somewhat older youth: Christian Focus’s Trailblazer series (under its CF4Kids imprint), YWAM’s Christian Heroes Then & Now series; Barbour’s Heroes of the Faith series (unfortunately no longer in print). One word of caution: Some children’s biographies take the liberty to make up representative dialogues or events that are not known to have actually happened. Even with children it is better to read biographies that are discernibly more factual rather than artificially portrayed.
3. Relate biographical incidents and studies as part of our formal teaching and preaching ministries. Throughout my years of pastoral ministry I have used many anecdotes from the lives of eminent Christians from history to effectively illustrate a wide variety of life-related themes. (I also seek to employ plenty of contemporary illustrations.) Children’s teachers and youth leaders can periodically relate an ongoing series of stories and lessons from the life of an outstanding servant of Christ. I certainly join John Piper in encouraging pastors to present a biographical sermon (or short series) annually for the benefit of their congregations.
4. We can also share worthwhile biographical information and events in our informal conversations. As we’re reading a good biography we can tell people about it and relate a couple highlights from it. If a discussion brings to mind an intriguing or instructive example from a biography we’ve read in the past, that can be profitably communicated. Sharing such incidents adds flavor, perspective and benefit to conversations.
5. Give quality Christian biographies as gifts. They make great gifts for children, teens and adults. They can be given for birthdays, Christmas or other special occasions (graduation, pastor appreciation, etc.). Or they can be given simply to encourage and strengthen people in their relationship with the Lord and service of Him. Of course we want to give biographies that we think will interest and profit those who receive them. Most biographies are priced quite reasonably, so they make affordable gifts.
6. “Share” or “like” helpful postings related to historic Christian biography that we come across on various websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This is a powerful tool we can use to encourage contemporary, techy Christians to connect with their rich Christian heritage.
7. Make sure we are purchasing some of the historic biographies that Christian publishers are producing as paper books and e-books nowadays. Many Christian publishers are producing few or no historic biographies because they reportedly do not sell well. That trend can be reversed if Christians will make a point to buy quality biographies and let publishers know (through their purchases and via encouraging emails) of their interest in this valuable genre of literature.
Copyright 2013 by Vance E. Christie