Posts filed under: Books

Book Review: “Discerning Your Call to Ministry”

discerning-your-call-to-ministry-how-to-know-for-sure-and-what-to-do-about-it-by-jason-allen-0802494633

Discerning Your Call to Ministry

I received a copy of Discerning Your Call to Ministry by Jason K. Allen recently.  I had heard about this book while listening to the Rainer on Leadership podcast.  I was intrigued by what I had heard on this book.  I believe that the content of this book covers some thoughts that those who are wrestling with what God is wanting to do in their lives wrestle with.  Below are some of my thoughts about this book.

At the beginning, Allen jumps right into definition mode.  In the introduction, he shows the difference of being called to minister, called to ministry, and called to the ministry.  This is an important distinction that I believe many do not see.  Allen does a good job of showing the difference and importance of each term.

The meat of the book is divided up into 10 chapters.  Each chapter deals with a question to help the reader better see what God may be doing in his or her own heart.  He uses Bible verses, thoughts from Christian ministers of the past, and personal stories to help the reader wrestle with each question.

The conclusion of the book helps the reader by giving points to pursue in relation to what the reader has discovered about himself or herself through the questions.  It is good that Allen not only helps those who come through the questions still feeling that God is calling them to the ministry of the gospel, but he also shares encouragement for those who do not sense that call.  Allen does not devalue those who are not called to the ministry, but he encourages them to be faithful to what God is calling them to.

As one who has felt the call to the ministry, I remember the times of wrestling and trying to figure out what that meant.  I also remember hearing the stories of many who wrestled much longer with what God was doing in their lives – those who were called to the ministry and those who were not.  I am grateful to Dr. Allen for the work that he has put forth here in Discerning Your Call to Ministry.  I believe that this small book will have a big impact on many men and women going forward who are wondering what God is up to in their lives.

If you sense that God might be up to something and calling you to a deeper service… if you find yourself wrestling with what God is wanting you to do with your life… I would encourage you to get a copy of Discerning Your Call to Ministry and let this great tool help you discern what God is doing in your life.  It will be money well spent.

Book Review: “Designed to Lead”

Recently, I was asked to check out a new book that was written for church leaders.  I love to read.  I love the church.  Reading a book that talked about how to develop leadership both within and outside of the church?  Now you got my attention.

41mpzgq5sl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This book was Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck’s Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development.  

Eric Geiger serves the local church in a couple of ways.  First, he is the Senior Pastor at ClearView Baptist Church.  Second, he serves as one of the Vice Presidents of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Kevin Peck is the Lead Pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX.

In this book, Geiger and Peck look to address the issue that one reason for which the church was created is to be a springboard of leadership.  This leadership was not just intended to impact what took place in the “walls of the church,” but it was to effect every aspect of life.

Local churches should not be outpaced in developing leaders who bless the world and advance His Kingdom. (p.9)

I think that this is one major thing that set this book apart from many that would fall under the heading of “church leadership.”  Many books share about ways in which churches can do better at doing church the way that it has been done for a while now.  Some of these books are helpful in developing some leadership skills in pastors/servants, but others are… let’s just say not so helpful.

Designed to Lead was intended to show that the church is not supposed to be about what takes place “inside the walls,” but that the church is supposed to impact the world around it. I really believe that this is an important thing to look at for the church today.  There are too many churches that are trying to run away from the world instead of impacting and redeeming it with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Geiger and Peck put forth a framework to help churches work on developing leaders that lead both within and outside the church.  This framework begins with conviction, moves through the culture, and creates constructs to make it happen (p. 14-15).  These three elements make up the three major sections of the book.

If you are a leader in the local church and have been feeling that there has been a leadership vacuum both within and outside of your church, then I would encourage you to check out Designed to Lead. Geiger and Peck have written this book for leaders to reproduce leaders and impact this world for Jesus Christ.

Giveaway

I have received a few copies of Designed to Lead, and I would like to bless some church leaders with this book.  If you would like to be considered for this giveaway, please leave a comment in the comment section of this blog (not on Facebook).  I will choose from the comments the winners on Monday, September 19th.

Book Review: “Who Moved My Pulpit”

A couple of months ago, I was given a book to read and asked to write a review about it.  The title of this book grabbed my attention almost immediately.  This book was Who Moved My Pulpit?  Leading Change in the Church by Thom Rainer.

I have read many of Thom Rainer’s books before.  I like his style of writing and topics that he predominantly writes about.  I took the the challenge of reading this book on with enthusiasm.

Change is necessary in any orgaWhoMovedMyPulpit_web-212x300nization or living being.  One cannot stay the same and expect that everything will just go like it should.  Living things must change and grow to reach their potential and to reach more people.  @ThomRainer has said himself, “Change is urgent because the gospel is urgent.”  I could not agree any more.

The church of Jesus Christ has the most important task in the history of the world: sharing the gospel with the world.  In order to accomplish this task, the church must grow with the culture.  The message of the church (the gospel of Jesus Christ) must NEVER change.  The methods by which we use to share the gospel with our communities and around the globe MUST change at certain times.  This is because the means of communication change over time.  If the church does not change and adapt to clearly share the gospel with the world around it, then it will fail at carrying out the Great Commission.

In Who Moved My Pulpit, Thom Rainer seeks to provide church leaders with a resource to help them lead their churches through change in a healthy manner.  Rainer first shows that there are different types of “unmovable church members.” Then he moves into what I would call an 8-step process.  He spends a full chapter with each of these steps.

BH-WhoMovedMyPulpit-SS2The appendix to the book is called a “Church Readiness Inventory for Churches.”  I truly think that this might be the best part of the whole book.  This is a series of questions that can help a church leader see where their church stands and how willing/ready they are for needed change.

Recommendation

When I first read this book, it took me all of 3 days to finish it.  I did not want to speed-read through it, but really see what all it had to say and process it.  I found that this is a great book for church leaders to help them in a much needed area of ministry… especially in our ever-changing culture. I want to see churches around the globe fulfilling the Great Commission at their fullest potential, and I believe that Who Moved My Pulpit is a great tool to help make that happen.

You can get your own copy of this great resource by clicking on the image above.  It will take you to a link where you can order a copy.

Book Review: Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back

_140_245_Book.1875.coverI was recently given a copy of Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back by Ray Johnston to review.  I enjoy reading books.  I really enjoy reading books about the Christian church.  This post will be my thoughts from reading this book.

Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in a North American Christian church and compared it with what they read in the New Testament book of Acts will notice that something is different.  I know that as times change certain things have to change.  The best way that I heard this put is “the message is never changing but the methods have to change.”

In Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back, Johnston talks about how the picture of Christianity has changed since the 1950s.  He states that

  • In the 1950s, we lost innocence.
  • In the 1960s, we lost respect for authority.
  • In the 1970s, we lost love.
  • In the 1980s, we lost values.
  • In the 1990s, we lost faith.
  • In the 2000s, we lost security.
  • In the 2010s, we lost hope in the future.

He also goes on to share that the time we are living in now is one that is far better than any time before.

  • We have better resources.
  • We have world-class buildings.
  • We have corporate-level leadership.
  • We have better communications.

If we have all these “betters,” then why does the church look so different?  Why is it struggling so much in our culture today?

Johnston’s book is divided into two basic parts: ways we have gone wrong and the Jesus that most people miss.  In the first part, Johnston shares that thoughts such as hedonism, materialism, pragmatism, humanism, and fatalism have found their way into the life of the church.

In the second part, Johnston shares seven characteristics of Jesus that are (by his definition) missed by many people who are in the church today.  By missing these characteristics of Jesus, Johnston shares that the church in North America has gotten off-track.

My Thoughts

As one who has spent the good portion of my life in the North American church, I see a lot of what Johnston is writing about in this book.  It does not take one long to see the distance of many churches in our land from what we read about in the pages of the Bible.  I do not believe that it is too late though.  I still believe that “the local church is the hope of the world” (Billy Hybels).  That is because it is the local church has the responsibility of taking the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back is another work that brings light to the ways in which the church is falling short on its task.  I didn’t really find anything “new” in this book.  It had some good stats and attempts at humor at points.  Johnston reminds readers of some ways to get back to the point where the church needs to be.

My Recommendation

If you are looking for some new insights to the current state of the North American church, this book doesn’t really give them to you.  If you are looking for another book to remind and encourage you to help make the church what it should be, then this book might just be for you.

Book Review: “VIP”

Influence.  There are those who have it, and there are those who want more of it.  It is a powerful commodity in our day and time. There seems to be so many jockeying for position in the arena of influence.

As followers of Jesus Christ, Christians are to be influential people.  We are to use the gifts and tools that God has given us to influence those that we come in contact with closer to the God who loves them so.

VIPO.S. Hawkins, the President and CEO of Guidestone Financial Resources of
the Southern Baptist Convention, has put out a new book that talks about being a person of influence.  He states that the common acronym, VIP
, should be redefined to “Very Influential Person.”  In VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose, Hawkins lays out characteristics that one needs to have to be influential (Vision, Integrity, and Purpose).

VIP is a short read (around 116 pages).  In this short work, Hawkins shows how these three characteristics work to make a person more influential.  He uses different stories and phrases to help make the points of his book more memorable.  Sometimes the “catchiness” of phrases and trying to make them work through alliteration or other means took away from the content. Hawkins frequently (and well s0) uses the Bible to make his points.  I think that this is one of the strong points of this book.

My Recommendation

I think that it is important to be a person of influence.  Whether you like it or not, someone is looking up to you.  That means that you are influencing someone.  I think that there needs to be more materials that help us use our “influence” in ways that it is intended.

I believe that Hawkins has put together a decent work in VIP, but if you are looking for it to be something that is life-changing, I think that you would be disappointed.  The characteristics that Hawkins talks about in VIP – vision, integrity, and purpose – are desperately needed for a person to be successful at being influential.  I just wished that he would have shown a little more about how they work into being influential without the “sermon points”.

My Rating

3 out of 5 stars

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.)