The strength of our Book Reviews collection lies in the categorical breakdown that we have created for you below. We have divided the most common ministry design issues into categories so that you can more easily find the solution that you are looking for. Our eventual goal is to have an in-depth review for every book that will give you further assistance in discovering the reading pathway that can lead you to the solutions to the ministry issues you may be facing.
- Personal Development
- Development of Others
- Leading Change
- Pastoral Transition
- Leading Church Mergers
By Paul D. Borden
By Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
Thousands of congregations are in serious trouble. Children are not being taught the faith. Disciples are not being made. Lives are not being transformed. The poor are not being blessed. Communities are not being redeemed. These congregations know something is terribly wrong. And in most cases, the problems have little to do with the pastor’s prayer life or whether the pastor takes weekly Sabbath time. In fact, in many of these churches members deeply respect their pastors as sincerely spiritual people of utmost personal faith and integrity. But they need more from their pastoral leaders.
They need leaders who define ministry in terms of fruitfulness as well as faithfulness. They need pastors and lay leaders who ask about the outcomes of any given ministry or program, not just its process. Mostly, they need a vision of ministry that focuses on changing people’s lives. Absent that vision, ministry will fail.
In this helpful volume, Lovett Weems and Tom Berlin provide readers with the tools they need to assess the fruit their ministry bears in the lives of their congregations, their communities, and the world.
by Tim Sinclair. Publisher: Kregel Publications.
Focuses on our representation of Christ.
Click to see full review
In the preface of this book the author states, “I’m convinced that when it comes to showing and sharing Jesus to and with the world around us, it’s critical that we recognize our own unique situations, talents, abilities—and then effectively use them to reach people within our individual spheres of influence. Other than the boundaries and guidelines provided by the Bible, nothing else should create a game plan for us because there is no right way for everybody. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology”.
The book is intended to be “a pep talk, not a playbook”. It is to serve us as a motivational dialogue and not a mechanical application of modeled methodology. He says it is “inspiration, not instruction”. The book is full of hard questions that are intended to challenge our thinking, examine our lives and change our approach to winning others to Christ. He is trying to create productive discussion about fulfilling the Great Commission in our individual lives and corporately as churches.
I found the book to be effective and well written. He is able to approach sensitive topics with clarity and conciseness that should help the reader grasp the biblical truths underpinning his arguments. For instance he explains the difference between our mission as believers and the methods we use to fulfill our mission. They are not the same thing. We often confuse our methods as being our mission and thus when there is a need to change our methods we are hindered by the confusion of misidentification.
I would encourage you to purchase the first copy you can find and give it a thorough reading and allow your mind to digest its contents. I believe it will do you good to be challenged by his thinking.
By Greg Blake
The memoirs of the Chief Encouragement Officer Greg Blake. Perhaps you have seen him in action, now read whats behind the CEO of Pepworks International.When we first got married my parents bought us a old dining table that had come out of a bakery in NY. We bought an old fashioned icepick and thought it would be a great practice to have people carve their name in our table when they came for a visit….well 41 years later we are still continuing the tradition. We have hundreds of signatures. My 4 kids have bought an old table and are continuing the practice with their families. We even have sanded out the names of old boyfriends who didn’t make the cut!(I just finished my memoirs called Carving the Table (available in ebook format on Amazon) Click Here to get a copy!When folks visit our church for the first time, Debbie and I invite them over to our home on a Friday evening (Family Night) to get to know them better. Very non-threatening. We will also find out their occupation and will do our best to match them with another couple with the same occupation so there is an immediate connection.Have had numerous couples join because of the personal interest in their lives. I tell people that you can’t get to know people in the foyer of a church Sunday morning doing small talk.Unfortunately today we have become too busy to invest our lives in others and ultimately eternity.
By Chip Tudor
“Christians differ in their beliefs. And that sometimes makes Christianity seem confusing to those outside the faith. It isn’t. This book offers a simple, conversational explanation about its main concepts–the ones that support everything else. It is written in plain, everyday language for those with little or only a superficial exposure to Christianity that are exploring it for a better understanding of its basic belief system.”
By Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope
“They’re called The Dones.
After devoting a lifetime to their churches, they’re walking away. Why?
Sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope reveal the results of a major study about the exodus from the American church.
And what they’ve discovered may surprise you…
-Church refugees aren’t who you’d expect. Among those scrambling for
the exits are the church’s staunchest supporters and leaders.
-Leaving the church doesn’t mean abandoning the faith. Some who
are done with church report they’ve never felt spiritually stronger.
-The door still remains open—a crack. Those who’ve left remain hungry
for community and the chance to serve—and they’re finding both.
Sifting through hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews, Packard and Hope provide
illuminating insights into what has become a major shift in the American landscape.
If you’re in the church, discover the major reasons your church may be in danger
of losing its strongest members—and what you can do to keep them.
If you’re among those done with church, look for your story to be echoed here.
You’re not alone—and at last you’re understood.
Share your story at TheDones.com”
By David Watson and Paul Watson
“It is hard to deny that todayÆs world can seem apathetic toward Christians. Some may look down at their iPhones when we mention God, motion for the check when we bring up church, or casually change the subject when we talk about prayer. In a world full of people whose indifference is greater than their desire to know Christ, how can we dream of growing the church?
In Contagious Disciple Making, David Watson and Paul Watson map out a simple method that has sparked an explosion of homegrown churches in the United States and around the world. A companion to Cityteam’s two previous books, Miraculous Movements and The Father Glorified, Contagious Disciple Making details the method used by Cityteam disciple-makers. This distinctive process focuses on equipping spiritual leaders in communities where churches are planted. Unlike many evangelism and church-growth products that focus on quick results, contagious disciple-making takes time to cultivate spiritual leadership, resulting in lasting disciple-making movements. Through Contagious Disciple Making readers will come to understand that a strong and equipped leader will continue to grow the church long after church planters move on to the next church.
- Engagement tools for use in the field
- Practical techniques to equip others to make disciples”
By Paul D. Borden
By David Archibald
Effective Evangelistic Strategies is a handbook/guide to greater effectiveness in reaching people for Jesus. In it you will be presented with various methods used and the method Jesus Himself used. It is not designed to be exhaustive by any means, but is a basic guide to reaching your world for the Lord. This booklet can be used by individuals and groups alike to open the discussion around the subject.
Once you go through this book, you will gain a greater appreciation for the Great Commission given in Matthew 28: 19-20. Purchase for yourself, friends, family or church group.
by Kirbyjon Caldwell & Walt Kallestad. Publisher: WaterBrook Press.
Focuses on the marriage of ministries with business to create outreach opportunities.
by Nelson Searcy. Publisher: Regal.
By Doug Anderson, Bob Farr, and Kay Kotan
Change your church culture. Create an outwardly focused environment where hospitality and invitation happen Sunday and every day of the week. This book offers five steps to help congregations go public with their faith—from service projects to sharing the faith with persons who want to know more about Christ and thw church. This book offers tactics to increase individual and church competency with relational evangelism with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Learn how to start up a conversation, follow up with contacts, and navigate unfamiliar settings. Learn what works and what doesn’t.
We may think that just because we invite someone on our church property, they’ll come back. Often we don’t reach out to help people cross the faith line, because we’re uncomfortable with “evangelism” or just plain scared. Gain the confidence to share the good news boldly. After all, we know the name of the One who loves us all and who holds all power over heaven and earth.
The authors provide practical, inventive guidelines for bringing first-time guests through the doors. This book sets forth a step-by-step, biblically grounded, proven plan for creating immediate church growth by utilizing a “Big Day” to mobilize the church for evangelism. This user-friendly guide will show church leaders what they need to do to reach the unchurched in their communities and break through the debilitating growth barriers that are holding them back.
By Carey Nieuwhof
You’ve probably noticed …
Churches aren’t growing.
Young adults are walking away.
Volunteers are hard to recruit.
Leaders are burning out.
And the culture is changing faster than ever before.
There’s no doubt the church is in a moment in history for which few church leaders are prepared.
You can look for answers, but the right response depends on having the right conversation.
In Lasting Impact, Carey Nieuwhof leads you and your team through seven conversations that will help your church grow and have a lasting impact.
What if …
- Having the right conversations could change your trajectory?
- There was more hope than you realized?
- The potential to grow was greater than the potential to decline?
- Your community was waiting for a church to offer the hope they’re looking for?
- Your best days as a church were ahead of you?
Maybe the future belongs to the churches that are willing to have the most honest conversations at a critical time. That’s what Lasting Impact is designed to facilitate.
Equip church leaders with the tools and insights needed to rally people around renewed purpose. Drawing from biblical principles and the experience of Real Life Ministries, this workbook guides users to evaluate the power of ministry alignment and personal influence for the sake of each church’s God-given mission to make disciples.
* 9 weeks of material designed for a church staff or ministry leadership team
* Each week includes four personal exercises and one collaborative session for a team meeting
* A thorough outline of practical steps for leading a new or established church toward a unified mission of disciple-making
* Interactive workbook includes assessments for areas of ministry and leadership
By Wayne McDill
“Making Friends for Christ is a practical approach to relational evangelism. It combines a theological and biblical rationale with practical counsel and dozens of real life stories. The new edition is a major revision, enlarged and updated for twenty-first century challenges. Pastors, church planters, and missionaries will find it most helpful. Laymen who have been frustrated with their attempts at witnessing are finding it opens a new way of thinking about reaching their friends and relatives for Christ…”
by Wayne McDill
“Making Friends for Christ is a practical approach to relational evangelism. It combines a theological and biblical rationale with practical counsel and dozens of real life stories. The new edition is a major revision, enlarged and updated for twenty-first century challenges. Pastors, church planters, and missionaries will find it most helpful. Laymen who have been frustrated with their attempts at witnessing are finding it opens a new way of thinking about reaching their friends and relatives for Christ..”
By Larry Osborne
“Evangelism and discipleship aren’t rocket science. When Jesus sent out a ragtag team from Galilee with the expectation that they would evangelize and disciple the world, they pulled it off as a natural and spontaneous outworking of their faith.
Yet 2,000 years later, this same natural and spontaneous process has been turned into a complex and highly programmed skill left to the professionals. Pastor and author Larry Osborne exposes what’s gone wrong and the five subtle shifts that sabotage our best efforts to reach the lost and bring them to full maturity.”
By Dr. Terry W. Dorsett (Author)
by Reggie McNeal. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.
By Lee Moseley
“For a number of reasons, evangelism is often fraught with anxieties and fears. At the same time, sharing your faith is one of the most fulfilling and exciting things that you will ever do. As a “friend of sinners,” Jesus spent half of his ministry time in one-on-one discussions with others. This is the primary model for evangelism that our Lord has provided for us. In One-on-One Evangelism, Lee Moseley offers a fun and simple model for spreading the gospel. It’s as simple as being a friend. After reading this book, you will one day look back, and say, “I never dreamed it was so easy. There is nothing I like to do more than get with people and become their friends. Absolutely nothing!”
by Kevin G. Harney. Publisher: Zondervan.
Focuses on love on a mission to reach the lost with the gospel.
Click to see full review
This book review is provided by one of my friends, Daniel Threlfall, who is the marketing director for www.Sharefaith.com.They provide media resources, website development and other services for churches. A visit to their website is well worth your time. Please take a moment to read the review and consider purchasing a copy of Organic Outreach.
Think with me for a second. Is the following statement true of your church? “Churches invest an inordinate percentage of their time and finances in people who are already followers of Jesus.” True, isn’t it? Is it true of your church? Most churches pour the vast majority of their resources and time into taking care of the sheep.
Kevin Harney, author of Organic Outreach thinks we have a problem. “Not all of this is bad or wrong,” he’s quick to point out. But as a whole, we’re probably spending too much time and too much money on the already-disciples, forsaking the not-yet-disciples, those whom Jesus commanded us to reach with the good news. It’s not just a matter of the dollars and cents of the church budget. It’s a deeper issue that penetrates into very fabric of the church. Churches that lack outreach are churches that lack life.
Maybe it’s time to change this. Maybe it’s time to amp up your church’s outreach. Maybe it’s time to be more aggressive about the Great Commission. Maybe it’s time to get serious about reaching people who are living and dying, never being relentlessly pursued by passionate Christians, eager to share the life-changing message of Jesus. Maybe it’s time we focus on outreach.
What Organic Outreach Is All About
Harney’s book is a jarring wake-up call to do just that. It’s more than an alarm, though. Sure, our churches need to a wake up call, but we need more. That’s why Organic Outreach opens with a triumphant anthem trumpeting the glories of Christ’s church, and a motivating chorus that proclaims a theology of love—love for God, love for others, and love for the church. The book then moves into sketching out a blueprint of how outreach should look. In this section, the motivation turns practical, as Harney explains how outreach looks, works, and acts.
Outreach is a great concept, but without any practical tips, it dwindles into nothing more than just that—a concept, devoid of action. Within this practical section, don’t expect a seven-step, surefire way to firing up a languid congregation and win 4,000 converts by next Sunday. I hope your church does have 4,000 true converts by Sunday, but outreach isn’t the product of seven-steps. As Harney explains, outreach begins with loving God. “Without this, nothing else matters.” Organic outreach isn’t formulaic. Rather, it is a natural outflow of right theology, joined with right action.
Just like outreach is a buzzword, so is organic. As a point of fact, you may even have eaten organic yogurt for breakfast this morning, especially if you’re a hipster. When coupled with “outreach,” the word “organic” goes beyond Whole Food and Trader Joe’s. “Organic” is the author’s way of describing how outreach goes “beyond pushpins and committees.” Instead, organic outreach “should flow naturally and freely from God into every level of your church ministry. From there, it should pour from your church into your community and the world.”
This type of outreach begins to make sense when you envision the final product. In this vision of an organically outreaching assembly, you see a church whose nursery workers are thinking, “outreach,” rather than exclusively focusing on disinfecting slobbery toys and sealing up soiled diapers. In this vision, you see a church treasurer who isn’t just tallying up offerings each Sunday. Rather, he is planning a free financial seminar for people in the church’s community. The New Mom’s committee is not just lining up house help for Brenda, the Sunday School teacher who just had twins. Instead, the committee is finding people to prepare some meals for Rhonda, an unemployed single mom of four who lives two doors down from the church. Is the vision beginning to flesh out in your mind? In the Organic Outreach model, “outreach” is no longer a buzzword. Nor is it just a committee project. Instead, it is the Jesus-focused, others-loving heartbeat of the entire church.
Harney’s one-liner explanation sums it up: “Organic outreach is a change in the culture of your entire church.”
Should you take several hours to read this book?
Reading a book takes a lot of time. You should know, however, that Organic Outreach is a mere 192 pages, and it goes quick. You can probably get through it in three or four hours. That investment of time may very well revolutionize your ministry.
If any one of these four points applies to you, you should read this book:
• You are involved in church leadership, want to be, or think you might someday.
• Your church could improve outreach, and better connect with its community.
• You care about lost souls, or at least want to.
• You are sometimes disappointed that you or your church isn’t doing more to reach others.
No, you won’t agree with every point that the author makes. (Show me a book, apart from Holy Bible, where this is true.) Nonetheless, you will undoubtedly learn, think, and grow as a result of reading it. Most likely, it will change you, and then even change your church.
The church does not engage in outreach for outreach’s sake. Nor do we perfunctorily tack on an “outreach” ministry because we kind of have to obey that Great Commission thingy. No indeed. We engage in outreach because we believe the gospel and act upon it. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), motivating us to unashamed, unrelenting, unstoppable proclamation of this joyful message.
By Paul Clifford
by Alan Hirsch & Lance Ford. Publisher: Baker Books.
How to live out your faith on a daily basis.
By Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw
Ever wonder why people fall asleep in church?
“It happens. We’ve all seen it. We shuffle into rows of seats that grow more comfortable with every new fundraising campaign. We slouch down and settle in for an hour or so, as singers and storytellers and preachers and teachers take their turns filling our ears. And almost without fail, at least one of us nods off while listening to the greatest story ever told.
The church was not meant to be like this. The church was meant to be on its feet, in the world, making all things new. The church was meant to be sent.
Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw want to help us—all of us—rediscover our sentness.
Dive into Sentness, and explore the six postures of a church that’s keeping pace with God’s work in the world. Rediscover the gospel that first quickened your pulse and got you up on your feet, ready to go wherever Jesus called you. Get Sentness, and prepare to get sent.”
By Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost
“In a time when the need for and the relevance of the Gospel has seldom been greater, the relevance of the church has seldom been less. The Shaping of Things to Come explores why the church needs to rebuild itself from the bottom up. Frost and Hirsch present a clear understanding of how the church can change to face the unique challenges of the twenty-first century. This missional classic has been thoroughly revised and updated.”
by Ken & Paula Hemphill. Publisher: Auxano Press.
Focuses on love on a mission in reaching people with the gospel.
by Thom S. Rainer. Publisher: B&H Academic.
Focuses on the 19-29 year old generation
Click to see full review
To introduce the reader to the second largest generational group in our country’s history by presenting their characteristics, conduct, attitudes, struggles, and perspectives as well as ideas of how to reach them with the Gospel.
The character, conduct, culture and creed of the “Bridger Generation” are compared to the two previous generations, the” boomers and busters”. The unique challenges to reaching this generation with the gospel are discussed and the urgent need, as evidenced in statistics, to reach them while they are still young.
The author is one of the first to study and critique this age group from a ministry perspective. The book gives us an insight into the thinking and lifestyle of this young generation. Based on the research results that he presents, the author urges church leaders to reach out and connect with this generation early in their life. The point of receptivity for most believers occurs before the age of 20 and few ministries are giving adequate time and attention to them. The author gives a list of 7 obstacles to reaching this group and they are very helpful to those that wish to overcome them. From their research, they found 4 clear characteristics of those churches that are being successful in their attempts at reaching this group: love them unconditionally, set clear boundaries and rules, establish high expectations that challenge them, and be sensitive to their culture.
Who will benefit?
The ministry design team and the youth pastor with his staff.
How will it benefit?
It provides statistics and suggestions to help you develop your unique ministry to this age group.
Where does it fit in the process?
Research and development.
“Church leaders of the seventies through the nineties were told that they and their churches were hopelessly out of date and out of touch.” “For the most part the critics were right. The evangelical church did not understand the culture it was trying to reach. Change was needed.
But some churches went overboard in making changes. For these churches, changes in style shifted to changes in substance. The user-friendly exuberance led to low expectations and subtle encouragement of biblical illiteracy. So the boomers and busters entered the church looking for something different. They were initially attracted by the relevancy of the worship, the ability to remain anonymous, and the hope of the Christian faith. But they quietly left the church when they discovered it to be amazingly similar to the world they knew. They were looking for something different; what they found was often more worldly than heavenly.” (p. 13-14)
by Deborah Anderson-Singleton
Ideas to help a ministry, regardless of size, reach their community and make disciples
by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.
Addresses a much needed change in church culture in the 21rst century.
By Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
This is the first book of a three part series on developing an external life, church and kingdom.
Can ordinary people live extraordinary lives?
Yes–when those lives are externally focused! That’s the message Pastor Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson deliver in this timely, Bible-based book. Using a memorable acrostic for LIFE–Love, Intersections, Fortune, Eternity–the authors challenge us to find more than purpose…to uncover the joy in a lifestyle of authentic Christian service. Discussion questions included.
The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community is designed for church leaders who want to transform their churches to become less internally focused and more oriented to the world around them. The book includes the clear guidelines on the ten changes congregations must adopt to become truly outwardly focused. This book is not about getting all churches to have an annual day of community service as a tactic but changing the core of who they are and how they see themselves as a part of their community.
by Joseph A. Michelli. Publisher: McGraw-Hill.
Answers the question: “What does it mean to be in the world but not of it?”.
By Zack Williams
“Is the church primarily for the churched or the unchurched? How do church leaders transition an established church to reach the unchurched? Zach describes one of the biggest problems in many established churches: They have lost their drive to reach the unchurched. This book reveals how the problem perpetuates because of church leadership. Too many church leaders are content with an inward focus.
Zach identifies how leaders can help established churches transition from an inward focus to an outward focus. Transitioning is one of the most important characteristics a church can have because it involves the mission of Jesus, to take those who are hurting and lost and give them life.”