Here are some thoughts and ratings on a few books I’ve recently read: I rate these books 1-5 stars; 1 being….well you know the gig.
Servolution –Dino Rizzo –I believe one of the most powerful things a church can do is effect or even change the way a generation does church. Healing Place church is known serving their community in creative sacrificial ways. “Servoluion” is the story of how HPC started and continues to lead by serving. I laughed and cried while reading his book. I’ve met Dino. I’ve never met a pastor like him; he is unique, humble, and unusually transparent. I highly recommend the book, especially if you pastor or are planning on planing a church. 4 stars
The Jesus You Can’t Ignore –John MacArthur. Although I’ve heard of him, I’ve never read any of his books. This was a first. John is a smart guy…I mean like keep your dictionary handy when you read his stuff. I guess some would call him a modern-day scholar. This book offers a candid look at how Jesus viewed and interacted with the Pharisees. He was harsh and pulled no punches, calling them hypocrites; he even would used them as examples in his parables -bad examples. MacArthur compares Jesus method of ministry with the methods used today. He criticizes how churches and pastors use over the top illustrations, productions, and seeker sensitive environments to reach new people. Some things John stated are true; however, as a pastor I have had to realize that I cannot feed 5000 people by just praying over food, walk on water, raise people from the dead, etc…, and basically be Christ. Jesus could say whatever he wanted to whomever he wanted because he was God’s son and every now and then a voice from heaven reminded people of that truth. He would sometimes clear out crowds by saying things like “you will have to eat my flesh” because he had an agenda that involved only 12 men. This being said, I’m sure John could out debate me on this issue. I just didn’t like it when he slammed Ed Young Jr. for his message on sex. The book theologically is worth reading. I learned a lot about the Sanhedrin. I give it 3 stars.
Mad Church Disease –Ann Jackson. This is an interesting book about the issue of burnout with church leaders. Ministry is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is not a physically demanding job, but it can be a highly stressful and emotionally taxing vocation. This book was written from a ministry staff point of view other than the senior pastor. Jackson is not a senior pastor, but she does interview lead pastors. I think this was a good effort on her part to try do identify with the lead pastors. I applaud the idea of writing a book on this subject. I would like to see other books on the subject written by senior pastors who have overcome this issue and lived to tell about it. I give it 3 stars.
The Principle of the Path –Andy Stanley. I think I have read most of the books that Andy has written. He is to me one of the best teachers for young leaders/pastors today. He is also a great writer. Books I’ve read from Andy Stanley include: Visioneering, Choosing to Cheat, Next Generation Leader, Fields of Gold, The Best Question Ever, and the pastoral series with Bill Willis…that’s all I can think of. I like the way he thinks and he does a great job of communicating an idea. This particular book is a great one to give to a high school/college student. In a nut shell, Stanley writes how people choose their story, their path, and their lives through decision making. It is an easy read with simple/practical ideas for very important principles. I give it 4.5 stars.
Deliberate Simplicity –How the Church Does More by Doing Less -Dave Browning. The title to this book jumps out at most pastors/church leaders. This book would probably be in my top 10 best books ever read. This author covers everything from small churches to churches with multi locations. Browning does not necessarily have a new idea, but he does have a new different approach to a common idea. I highly recommend this book to pastors and church leaders. I give it 5 stars
The Monkey and the Fish —Liquid Leadership for a Third – Culture Church –Dave Gibbins: This was a great perspective of today’s and future generations. Gibbons speak/writes from experience as he was brought up within an interracial marriage. He spends almost the entire book explaining who and what Third culture is; then, he spends the last chapter giving us ideas how to minister to them. I wish there could have been more of the book dedicated to how-to. Over all, an insightful book. I liked it. I give it 3 stars
It –Craig Groeschel –The idea is that Craig (who is the lead pastor of www.LifeChurch.tv) noticed that some of his church campuses (I think they have like 16+) have a certain characteristic that he calls “IT”. He doesn’t name “it”, he just knows that his campuses that have “it” are healthy and growing. He then gives a list of things that each “it” campus has in common, and answers the questions of whether or not a church has “it”, and how a church can get “it”. Confused? The book is much better than my writing. I think “it” could be momentum. This is an awesome read. Craig’s writing style is open and honest as he relates well to senior pastors and all church leaders. I give the book 5 stars.
Un Christian –What a new generation thinks about Christianity: David Kinnaman. This book was filled with confrontational information concerned with how the next un Christian generation views the church. Kinnaman interviews thousands of people and collects six main perspectives. This book has some great research from the Barna group and I have referred to this book a lot when I speak about touching our world. This book actually inspired a sermon series I taught last year called “outlook” If you want to glance over the series it may be in our archives at www.faithco.org. I really liked the book and I learned a lot. I give it 4 stars
When the game is over, IT ALL GOES BACK INTO THE BOX. John Ortberg. Ortberg is a great writer and is an even better speaker. I like the way he thinks. This is a great book on perspective. “live in such a way that you prepare for eternity” is one of my favorite quotes of this book. I use this quote at graduation talks. Ortberg reminds us that everything is God’s and we give it all back when we leave this earth. I liked the book. I give it 4 stars.
Purple Cow -Seth Godin: This book is a short interesting little read that discusses the importance of standing out in a crowd. To be successful, why not be different. He gives some good examples and as always, Godin gets right to the point. This book is well worth reading. I Give it 4 stars.
Blue Like Jazz –Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality –Donald Miller –Very few books have the “I can’t put this down” effect on me. This book had that effect. Miller had an interesting journey that led him to Christ. This book raises interesting questions about church, religion, faith, grace, community, and even some extra info about romance. I highly recommend this one. You will enjoy it. I give it 5 stars
Axiom–By Billy Hybels. Wow! Thirty years of ministry leadership wrapped up into one book. This book feels like you are in a one-on-one conversation with one of the most influential pastors in the nation. It has short chapters and it is an easy read. It is a must read for church leader, especially pastors. I give it 5+ stars
The Shack –William P. Young. I’d heard so much of what a good book this was, so I bought it and read it. It does have a good story, and I suppose it could be an entertaining work of fiction, but it wasn’t for me. As a person who reads at least one book per month, including a lot of the bible, this book was simply too far-fetched for what it was attempting to propose. The book starts off slow, gets really good, goes off on a weird trip, then gets a little better. I had a tough time finishing it. I’ve talked to a few people who really liked it, it just wasn’t my thing. I give it 1 star.
The Oath-Frank Paretti. I read fiction when I go on vacation. This book was the second Frank Paretti book I’ve read (first was Monster). I believe this book was a revision of the original he wrote back in the nineties. I liked it. The book was over 500 pages, but it keeps you entertained. My favorite part was the “true” journal pages placed between the chapters. It made me wonder whether or not this town really had a history like Frank described. The author ties sin to a beast (which I won’t tell) that connects to the soul of the people in the town. I found I couldn’t put the book down until I found out the truth about the beast. Once the beast is revealed, I was not as excited, but I did finish the longest novel of my life. I give it 3 stars.
The Dip-Seth Godin. A short (which I love) great book that illustrates a cycle (actually a curve) that businesses and people go through that defines who they are. I highly recommend the book to pastors. I give it 4 stars.