The Simplest Way to Change the World : A Review

The Simplest Way to Change the World by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

This title is one of the best books on hospitality as it relates to evangelism. In a time when many are becoming more isolated from others it is refreshing to see biblical correctives like this book.

In twelve chapters divided into two sections Willis and Clements point to the power of hospitality in changing lives and provide a plan for how to engage in biblical hospitality. In exploring the power of hospitality they address the current cultural climate of isolation, entertainment, relaxation, and busyness that make hospitality such a challenging activity. The authors root hospitality in the character of God and the New Testament practice of the church. In addressing the plan for hospitality the authors address the excuses and challenges people face in planning to hospitable and show how to address them. The authors then proceed to show how one can use hospitality to share the gospel.

Books like this are very much needed in our day and I would commend this to all believers who want to make an impact in their community and see God work through them.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Scrappy Church: A Review

Scrappy Church by Thom Rainer

In his latest title Thom Rainer former CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources provides a resource for the many churches in North America that are plateaued or declining. In studying churches that have turned around from a period of decline Rainer has discovered key characteristics that shape and define a scrappy church, that is churches that refuse to give up on reaching their communities for Christ.

The three main areas that Rainer addresses as being key to being a scrappy church are being outwardly focused, being welcoming to outsiders, and clear process for member retention. In the chapters of the book Rainer expands upon those key areas and how addressing them have helped churches in decline reach their community for Christ.

If you’re a pastor or church leader you will benefit from this book. With the majority of churches either plateauing or declining this book is a helpful reminder that there is hope for change.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The New Elder’s Handbook : A Review

The New Elder’s Handbook by Greg R. Scharf and Arthur Kok

While there are many books out there the deal with the role of elders/pastors in the local church. There are a few that provide the clear path of training and equipping leaders found in The New Elder’s Handbook.

The authors provide in the first section that biblical rationale for putting in place a process the identify and equip these vital leaders in the context of the local church. In The second section of this book which comprises the largest section of the book the authors provide 75 questions for new and potential elders/pastors addressing key areas of competency, character, and convictions. The final section provides an invaluable discipleship recourse to be used to raise of biblical informed believers.

If you’re looking for a resource to help provide a strategy for raising up new leaders in your church this book would be a great resource. If your a new pastor/elder this would be a great resource for personal study.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Forgotten Church : A Review

The Forgotten Church by Glenn Daman

Rural ministry hasn’t been an area of ministry that had garnered a lot of attention either in the publishing world or at the denominational level. Glenn Daman’s title The Forgotten Church seeks to make sure that rural churches are not forgotten and rural ministry is not ignored. It’s all the better that this book is a written by a rural ministry practitioner instead of someone detached from the realities of rural ministry.

In the portions of this book Daman illustrates how historically there has been a tendency to neglect rural ministry showing that the current conditions are nothing new. He continues in the book to dispel myths that have arisen clouding people’s understanding of rural areas, this section is particularly important as there is a major disconnect between urban and rural culture in America right now. He shifts to providing an understanding of issues that shape rural culture such as race and poverty. The closing chapters of the book help the reader develop a theological understanding of rural ministry, the impact rural churches have, and  a guide to partnering between church both rural and urban.

My ministry experience has been in rural areas and because of that I have a great appreciation for the fact that Daman wrote this book and that Moody published it as most preparation for ministry seems geared toward suburban/urban ministries rather than rural areas. I would commend this book to my fellow rural ministers but I would also recommend it to urban pastors so that they could gain a greater appreciation for rural ministry and even a desire to partner with rural churches.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Storm-Tossed Family : A Review

The Storm-Tossed Family by Russell Moore

Russell Moore president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC has written in my opinion his best book to date. The Storm-Tossed Family provides readers with a realistic and biblical understanding of the family which is all the more important given the many forces and pressure working against the family.

In fourteen chapters Moore explores some of the most important realities of family. In the early chapters he helps readers to see the importance of the cross shaping our understanding of family life, the reality of spiritual warfare in family life, among many other important issues. Each chapter is thoroughly rooted in the truth of Scriptures and provide helpful correctives to misconceptions about areas of family life both inside and outside of the church. His chapters on parenting and aging are particularly helpful.

In recent years many accusations regarding the trajectory of Russell Moore’s views on issues particularly pertinent to the issues addressed in this book. Those making such accusations would be better served reading this book as it dispels the criticism many “discernment” bloggers levy against him. This book has application for every believer whether married or single. It has been particularly helpful to me this week in preparing to teach on the family from Ephesians 5 this coming Sunday. In short this is one of the best books on the family I have read.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Ten Book Recommendations for Pastor Appreciation 2018

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Every year I compile  a list of book recommendations for Pastor’s appreciation month. They would benefit any pastor who receives them as gifts next month. If you’re a pastor and get a gift card consider one of these titles. For last year’s list go here.

  1. Susie by Ray Rhodes (reviewed here).
  2. 12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson (reviewed here).
  3. High King of Heaven edited by John Macarthur (reviewed here).
  4. Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey (reviewed here).
  5. Preaching by the Book by R. Scott Pace (reviewed here).
  6. Preaching as Reminding by Jeffrey Arthurs (reviewed here).
  7. Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis (reviewed here).
  8. Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainer (reviewed here).
  9. Some Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson.
  10. The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen

 

 

Passion in the Pulpit: A Review

Passion in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Adam Dooley

Those who have studied preaching in seminary, and even some who have not, may be familiar with the concept that logos,ethos, and pathos are the essential parts of preaching. Much attention is given to logos, the content of epreaching, and attention is given to ethos, the character of the preacher, but pathos, the persuasive nature of preaching is often neglected or even ridiculed. This title helps serve as a corrective to that neglect and disdain.

In this book author Adam Dooley provides an exploration of each topic in the various chapters with Jerry Vines providing illustration of how the principles at hand are applied in the pulpit. One chapter that particularly stood out to me was the second chapter, which serves as a warning against personality driven preaching. I do have to disagree with what was said in chapter 4 when it states, “Though the Law is not binding as a moral standard for believers, it remains a relevant hermeneutical  key that helps us understand God and ourselves better (68).” Overall though this book is a helpful resource giving practical tips on how to be a better and more convincing preacher, pointing to the importance of heart felt preaching in persuading others of the truth of the Word.

I would commend this book as a valuable resource for any preacher. It offers practical insight and application in an area of preaching that is often ignored by preachers and writers.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

12 Faithful Men: A Review

12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson

Pastors can never have too much encouragement in the trenches of pastoral ministry. Encouragement is exactly what the contributors to this volume have provided for pastors.

Twelve contributors explore the example of twelve godly pastors who suffered disappointment and suffering in different ways in the midst of pastoral ministry and remained faithful to the end. Men who are faithful to the end are needed role models for those of us in ministry today as a great number seem to be disqualifying themselves early on through infidelity in the church or in the home. Most of those looked at in this volume are familiar names whose life stories many pastors are familiar with. Three individuals who were unknown to me were John Chavis African-American pastor who faced great difficulty due to 19th century racism, Ugandan martyr Jana Luwum, and Chinese pastor Wang Ming-Dao who suffered under communist oppression.

Christian biography, especially biography of faithful ministers, is a great encouragement for those in pastoral ministry. I would commend this book to pastors and ministry leaders as it is a great source of encouragement.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Power of Vision 3rd edition: A Review

The Power of Vision by George Barna

In this latest edition of The Power of Vision Barna explores the continued importance of church leaders having God’s vision for their church. Barna’s working defintion for what vision is is “a clear mental image of preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants to advance His kingdom and is based on an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.”

In thirteen chapters Barna explores the meaning of vision, the importance of vision, and the impact of vision for ministry in the local church. I do think Barna gets his components of capturing God’s vision wrong in his sixth chapter he begins with self knowledge moves to contextual knowledge and ends with knowing God. You can’t rightly know yourself unless you know God, you can’t rightly understand the context you are in apart from knowing God. I believe that knowledge of God is foundational for every aspect of the Christian life. He helpfully points to the importance of prayer but should have addressed prayer before knowledge of self and context.

I have a bit of apprehensiveness in regards to book like this as they place a great deal of emphasis on something the New Testament in silent on. Paul doesn’t encourage Timothy and Titus to be visionary leaders, he encourages to be faithful leaders. Barna presents vision as this almost gnostic secret knowledge that God only provides to a select few, whereas in the New Testament we do have God’s vision for the church a community of disciples making disciples walking in holiness.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

42 Seconds: A Review

42 Seconds The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis

As Christians we’re called to share the gospel, the good new of what Jesus has done, with those we come across. How do we do that? Carl Madearis in this book explores Christ’s conversations in the gospels to help readers see a pattern for personal evangelism in how Christ interacted with people.

This book is comprised of twenty short chapters divided into four sections. The first section explores the principle of being kind to those we are interacting with. The idea behind niceness being that we are to notice people, greet people, and developing a personal interest in people. The second section addresses the importance of being present attentive to the person we’re talking to as opposed to simply thinking of what we want to say and how we’re going to fix their problems. The third section addresses the need for boldness in making a gospel transition. The final section addresses the importance of Christ-likeness in gospel conversation.

Overall this book provides good insights into evangelism. While it might not revolutionary or groundbreaking it is a biblical and thought provoking reminder of the importance of sharing of faith and the importance of following the model of Christ.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.