Saturday, December 4, 2010

Favorite books for 2010 (part 2)

Today we will complete the list I began yesterday of my top 10 favorite reads for 2010.

5.  Nelson Searcy, Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009).  This was another book I used as a textbook in the course I taught this fall.  I have become a big fan of Searcy and have read most of his books.  In this book he promotes the idea of having several Big Days in the life of your church to which your members can invite their friends.  One of his ideas that I really like is that God will not send new people to a church that is not prepared to receive them.  It is important that a church not only expects to see new people each Sunday, but that they are ready for them when they do come.  This is a great book for anyone serious about wanting to see their church reach new people for the Kingdom of God.

4.  Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes, Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2009).  This is another book on reaching people, especially the twenty and thirty year olds that many churches are not reaching.  Based upon solid research the authors provide some of the reasons why this age group is absent from so many of our churches and what they are seeking from churches.  They identified four markers that must exist in a church that is serious about reaching this younger generation: community, depth and content, responsibility, and cross-generational connection.  The good news is that this generation is spiritually hungry and is open to the gospel.  The better news is that this book provides some solid help in reaching them.

3.  Tim Irwin, Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009).  This is not a book about ministry.  It was written for business leaders, but the message found in this book certainly applies to anyone in a ministry role as well.  Irwin looks at six high profile business leaders who experienced major failures in their leadership.  After describing those failures and the results of those failures, he identifies five important lessons leaders should learn from reading this book.  #1 - Character trumps competence.  #2 - Arrogance is the mother of all derailers.  #3 - Lack of self-/other awareness is a common denominator of all derailments.  #4 - We are always who we are...especially under stress.  #5 - Derailment is not inevitable, but without attention to development it is probable.  I found this book to be a very interesting and troubling read.  What made it troubling is that I have known ministry leaders who failed as a result of all five of these factors.  Many of them are no longer in ministry today.  This book could have a profound impact on your own success as a leader, and I certainly recommend it.

2.  Tim Clinton and Joshua Straub, God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God (New York: Howard Books, 2010).  Everyone believes something about God.  Some are willing to give their lives for God while others find the concept of God offensive.  One reaches out to God from his hospital bed while in the next bed another person curses God.  Why such contrasts?  The authors, both Christian counselors and professors, believe the answer is found in the relationship styles we developed as we were growing up.  They identify four styles: secure attachment, anxious, avoidant, and fearful.  Not only to these styles impact the way we relate to other people, they impact the way we relate to God.  Fortunately, they do more than diagnose; they also offer healing and the means for us to become securely attached to God in a healthy, meaningful way that can have positive effects on our lives.  Reading this book gave me some insights into my own relationship style and helped me identify some ways I could improve it.  I found it to be an extremely helpful book, and I believe it would benefit anyone to read it.

1.  Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007).  We have now come to my favorite book for 2010!  We all remember the tragic news of a shooting in 2006 inside an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania.  Five Amish girls were killed and five others wounded.  We were shocked at the news, but perhaps many of us were even more shocked a few days later when we began hearing of how the Amish community were offering forgiveness and grace to the family of the shooter.  Many wondered how they could do that, especially so quickly.  The authors have studied the Amish for years and present us with a look at the simple faith of the Amish that makes such forgiveness possible.  Throughout the book I was reminded of my own struggles with offering forgiveness to persons who had wronged me.  Simple biblical truths about forgiveness and grace came alive to me through the examples of the people discussed in the book.  This was a book that deeply moved me, challenged me, and at times convicted me of how far short I often fall in my Christian walk.  I believe this is a must read for anyone struggling to forgive someone or for the person who is wanting to grow deeper in his or her walk with God.

Well, this is my list.  There are books here that will help you grow spiritually, develop your leadership skills, and help your church have a greater impact on your community.  If you are looking for something to read and not sure what you're looking for, you can use these as a starting point.  Check them out in your library or the next time you're in your favorite bookstore.  You can order any of them from by clicking on the title in this post.  If you do decide to read any of them, please let me know what you thought of them.

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