In a few days I have the privilege of attending a seminar called “Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching.” I’m so thankful for this opportunity to retreat in a beautiful place with my family (Colorado), network with other pastors, and to reflect on the books that we were assigned to read in preparation for this learning event. I confess that one of the biggest challenges that I’ve faced so far as a pastor is carving out time to read. I resonate with Doug Bratt when he writes in, “Character References: Meeting People Through Literature”: “Good pastors know that reading is a vital part of ministry. After all, we prepare to preach by prayerfully reading and studying the Scriptures. We read theological works and Bible commentaries. We monitor events and trends by reading newspapers and magazines. But what about fiction and other literature? Shouldn’t pastors also regularly incorporate that sort of reading into their ministries?” (Reformed Worship 101, 40). Some would say no. In fact, I’ve had people imply that after seminary-training I should be good to go for a lifetime of ministry. Just get out there and do the job! But it didn’t take me long to realize that in order to be an effective pastor, let alone an effective preacher, I would need to read a lot. But this has been a great challenge, for a variety of reasons. That’s why I am so excited about this seminar, because it emphasises the importance of reading for the preacher, and then encourages it by assigning a number of books to read in preparation for the seminar. I’m curious what our mentors will say regarding the importance of reading for the preacher. Perhaps they’ll say something like Doug Bratt, who, paraphrasing Alexander Solzhenitsyn, writes: “Reading literature is a way for us to meet people whom we otherwise might not meet.” After reading the assigned books, many of them fiction, I would have to say that I have met some new people. As Doug Bratt concludes: “As Cornelius Plantinga has noted, busy preachers may be tempted to read good literature for the sole purpose of mining it for sermon illustrations. The remarkable characters we meet in good books, however, aren’t just fodder for anecdotes. They’re the kind of people who are created in God’s image, much like those who sit in our pews every Sunday. They’re the kinds of people to whom God calls us to proclaim the gospel on a weekly basis.” Amen! I look forward to writing about my experience after I return from my study-leave. Until then, may the Lord be with you!