Introducing Jonathan Carswell and 10ofThose Publishing
Editor’s Note: We want you to get to know Jonathan Carswell and his excellent work at 10ofThose Publishing. Please take a moment and read his story!
Texting, tweeting, scrolling and flicking. Where do books belong when it’s screens that dominate and demand our attention all day long? I’m no different, and can often be found skimming through the latest news, blogs and chatter on my phone. But I’m wholly convinced that we need books. As Christians, books can feed us, fuel us, and build us up and critically they can reach the perishing millions around us, in ways that the latest thread or blog never will.
As a dyslexic who struggled to finish any book before I became a Christian at age sixteen, it might surprise you that I am so passionate for books, and physical ones at that.
The first book I ever finished was Roger Steer’s brilliant biography of Hudson Taylor (the English missionary to China). The book it still resonates with me now as I remember the impact of seeing his life unfold through its pages.
My conviction that we still need books stems from the fact that we are people of the Book. God has chosen to communicate with us through His written word made living and active by His powerful Spirit. If we really understand that, then reading is a necessary and natural thing for Christians to do. As Al Mohler says, ‘The electronic media have their places … nevertheless, the electronic screen is not the venue for lengthy, thoughtful, serious reading … and the Christian should be a serious reader.’
Jonathan Carswell, CEO 10ofthose.com
Read the good stuff
It was while I was a Youth Pastor in Northern Ireland that I began selling Christian books as a hobby. It was distressing me to see damaging heresy dominating the bestsellers’ lists. So, from my little bedroom in my flat, I tried to do something about it! I began buying a few titles that I knew held to the Bible (three at first). I bought them in big numbers – 1000 of each – and got them at a super knock-down price. I then sold them to individuals and churches in packs of 10, making a little margin on each to pay for the next batch I’d buy. They all sold in a week, and www.10ofthose.com was born!
Twelve years on and God has been so kind to us. Today, 10ofthose.com sells over 1.5million resources a year and uses its profits to supply ministries around the world with resources they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
Our range has grown (we have around 8,000 titles now) but the process is still the same. We handpick what we sell, so we know it holds to the Bible. We ensure the range is accessible, readable and engaging, and then we make them as low-cost as possible, so more resources can go out. You don’t have to buy 10, but the more you buy the cheaper it gets!
Our endeavors spring from the desire to get Christians, and non-Christians, reading good, biblical books that point them to Jesus. I want people to grow in their love and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and I’m persuaded that books are one of the ways that God uses to allow that to happen.
Books from the 20schemes staff.
I still don’t find reading easy (most people don’t), and I have to discipline myself to put the phone down and pick up a book (most people do). But I know that I always benefit from it. Whether it’s a biography of someone who has walked the Christian life before us, devotions that fuel my daily readings or writing that helps me grapple with some theological knottiness … reading works. We all read at different paces, in different contexts (with their various distractions!) and with different preferences, but it makes sense that God has designed us to be readers. That must be true at some level because He has given us a written book, and He doesn’t make mistakes!
Help me read more
Maybe you’re convinced, but could do with a few tips to help you get off the ground. Here are a few thoughts:
- Keep it simple and don’t be too ambitious: Don’t think you have to pick up the thickest, most complex book to benefit – the long ones can be helpful too but you can build up to them rather than starting with them and being defeated within a few days. Short books can be just as good as long books. As John Piper says, ‘Books don’t change people, paragraphs do, sometimes even sentences.’ Plan to read for a few minutes at a time, and gradually build up to longer stints. Don’t expect to suddenly be able to read for two hours having only ever managed ten minutes before.
- Stay balanced: there are a great variety of books out there. Not all do the same thing, and just as we need a balanced diet, balance in reading is a worthy thing. Read a good mix of biographies, devotional books, those that engage with relevant issues, as well as those that cover evangelism and training.
- Pass it on: when you’ve read a book, why not pass it on to someone else? Maybe even get someone else to read it, and see if you can chat about it over a coffee one day. Maybe you could send a book to a mission partner overseas? Or someone in your church family? Books can also be a brilliant evangelistic tool. You’ll be amazed how well a book can be received when given prayerfully and cheerfully.
While I’m endlessly enthusiastic for Christian books and their value in our spiritual lives, reading books is not to be at the expense of reading The Book. ‘Bring me my books!’ said Paul, but it’s God’s word alone that brings life. It’s books alongside the Bible – it’s books that help us engage with His word and help us to see Jesus more clearly as we journey along in our Christian lives.
Categories include Bibles, Children & Youth, Christian Life, Outreach, Study, Church Resources, New Releases
Finally, but critically
The reason I love physical books most of all, is that they can say things, and at times go places, that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. Let me explain.
I’m always trying to look for opportunities to talk to my neighbor about Jesus. He isn’t yet a Christian and I want that to change! Sometimes our conversations turn to gospel things, but it can be hard. I’m hesitant; nervous I will offend. But if I am able to give him a book, (e.g. The Case for Christ; Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus; or Why Trust the Bible?) the book can perhaps say things I can’t.
Say I get chatting with some buddies at soccer practice and the conversation turns to Jesus. My friends may be reluctant to talk openly in front of their friends for fear of embarrassment, or not wanting to look too keen. If I’m able to give them an evangelistic book though, then the book can speak to them at a time when I can’t – when they are alone at home perhaps.
A book can also speak to them at a time when I can’t. Our lives are crazy busy and finding time to read can be hard. It’s true for our non-Christian friends too. Sadly, we can’t go on vacation to the beach with them – when they might have more time to consider the big issues of life. But before they leave, if we give them a book, they can read it at a time that suits them, when they have more time … and who knows what may happen.
I firmly believe that books that point people to Jesus change lives. It’s why I’m passionate about people reading good books. It’s why I believe we should use books (and tracts) evangelistically. Why not pick up a gospel book … give a gospel book … and as you do, pray it would change a life.
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