Thought Leaders

BOOK REVIEWS

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.


MINISTRY DESIGN |

THOUGHT LEADERS

  • Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World

    by David F. Wells. Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co..

    A critic of our culture and the coming changes in it.

  • An Emergent Manifesto of Hope

    by Doug Pagitt & Tony Jones. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Chronicles the story of Christians seeking to win people in today’s changing culture.

  • Creating Your Church’s Culture: How to Uproot Mediocrity and Create a Healthy Organizational Culture

    By Stephen Blandino

    How do you create a thriving organizational culture in your church? Churches are committed to a spiritual mission, but it is often the organizational aspects of the church that hinder the mission from moving forward. Cultivating health in the organizational side of church culture requires a thorough understanding of the church’s vision, systems, staffing, relationships, and leadership. When the culture is healthy, it delivers consistently healthy outcomes that advance the mission of the church. But when cultures are unhealthy, or worse, toxic, they perpetuate constant dysfunction and derail the church’s purpose. In Creating Your Church’s Culture, Stephen Blandino gives you the tools and strategies to address the organizational side of your church’s culture. You’ll learn how to: 

    • Define your culture
    • Activate the Culture Equation
    • Hire staff who fit your culture
    • Infuse your values into your culture
    • Create a learning culture
    • Develop effective systems
    • Increase employee and volunteer engagement
    • Measure the health of your culture
    • Uproot bureaucracy 

    This practical book is loaded with wisdom and inspiration to help you improve the organizational aspects of your church’s culture. Plus, the book includes a culture assessment and implementation guide to help you apply what you are learning.

  • God’s Unwelcome Recovery: Why the New Establishment Wants to Proclaim the Death of Faith in the UK

    By Sean Oliver-Dee

    “Sean Oliver-Dee is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Regents Park College, University of Oxford and the interreligious advisor for the diocese of Peterborough. He is also associate researcher for the Anglican representative to the European Union. He is a regular consultant for government on identity issues and has written several papers for NGOs and think tanks.”

    The author’s purpose in writing this book has been to accomplish two things. His first purpose is to correct the “mistaken impression” that the church in the UK is in decline and second is to reveal the underlying agenda that he believes is driving the lack of reporting on the growth of the church. He believes the negative reporting about the church has now penetrated the thinking of the congregations themselves and thus the need to address this issue head on. He wants to counteract the lopsided image portrayed in the media. He believes we should re-evaluate our thinking about the place of the church in Great Britain and he writes to support his arguments.

    The author seeks to make his case by presenting evidence to support the argument that the church is growing and that it is not headed toward decline and death.  He shows the value of the church to their country and each community along with dismantling the misconceptions common among his countrymen.

    While the book was written about the churches in the UK  and the struggles they are facing I believe it can be of help to others, in particular to those of us living the U.S. Are we not somewhat headed in the same direction?

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

  • Kingdom Come: Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church-and What We Should Do Instead

    By Reggie McNeal

    “There’s a reason Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come . . .” and not “Thy church come.”The church clearly plays an important role in God’s plans. It was established by Christ, and he is its Head. But have we put too much emphasis on the church? Have we confused a means of participating in God’s Kingdom with the Kingdom itself?
    In Kingdom Come, church ministry consultant Reggie McNeal reveals why it’s crucial to realign the church’s mission with God’s ultimate Kingdom agenda. You’ll discover how you can get in on—and help lead—the Kingdom movement currently underway.
    Join the mission to help the Kingdom break into our hearts…and break out into the world.”

    I believe this book will challenge your thinking! (Marshall Shannon)

  • Mission Creep: The Five Subtle Shifts That Sabotage Evangelism & Discipleship

    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.”

  • Re Jesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church

    by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch. Publisher: Henrickson Publishers.

    An effort to prompt our thinking and commintment to Christ as the center of our life.

  • Revolution

    by George Barna. Publisher: Tyndale House.

    A wake-up call to the current state of the North American church and culture.

     

  • Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

    George Barna. Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

    Research of American faith the application of the results.

  • Shaping of Things to Come, The: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church

    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.”

  • The Church of the Perfect Storm

    by Leonard Sweet. Publisher: Abingdon Press.

    Discusses our approach to the cultural changes we are facing in the days ahead.

    Click to see full review

    Purpose:

    To motivate the church to think and talk about culture changes that are affecting today’s church.

    Content:

    The book is a collection of 13 essays by “thought leaders” concerning the culture storm that is brewing. They are pointing out the clash that is intensifying between today’s changing culture and God’s church and what it means for both.

    Analysis:

    The authors discuss the history of the church, the current state of the church, and the future of the church anchored in the scriptures. It is provocative reading and surely has initiated brisk discussion among it’s readers. The authors are from around the globe thus giving the discussion a much broader scope than just within our borders here in the US.

    Application:

    Who will benefit?

    Pastors and ministry leaders around the world

    How will it benefit?

    It should create awareness and sensitivity to the culture shift we are experiencing.

    Where does it fit?

    Research and development of your ministry design.

    Aha Thought:

    “The call is greater than ever before, but it is not for the faint of heart. But then, whoever said it was supposed to be easy?  Jesus warned us to sit down and ‘consider the cost’ before we decide to follow him . . . I would argue that the perfect storm offers the church its greatest chance to become the ‘Ultimate Church’ and make the ultimate catch for the gospel. Navigate this sea change, cross this raging ‘Red Sea’ and we will find a promised land of new beginnings and new church on the other side.” (p. 4-5)

  • The Convergent Church: Missional Worshipers in an Emerging Culture

    by Mark Liederbach & Alvin L. Reid. Publisher: Kregel.

    A discussion of the collision of church cultures.

  • The Externally Focused Church

    by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson. Publisher: Group.

    Addresses a much needed change in church culture in the 21rst century.

  • The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches

    by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass. Publisher: Brazos Press.

    Practical advice for creating a missional church that pursues souls.

  • The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church

    by Alan Hirsch. Publisher: Brazos Press.

    A refreshing reminder of God’s intent for His people.

  • The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion

    by Leonard Sweet. Publisher: Water Books.

    An analysis of methodology

  • The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why

    by Phyllis Tickle. Publisher: Baker Books.

    Provocative insights into the future of the church from a historical perspective..

  • The Millennium Matrix: Reclaiming the Past, Reframing the Future of the Church

    by Rex Miller. Publisher: Jossey-Bass.

    How technology has affected Christianity through the ages.

  • The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)

    by Alan Hirsch & Tim Catchim. Publisher: Jossey-Bass
  • The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups

    by Joseph Myers. Publisher: Zondervan.

    It focuses on a fresh approach to discipleship

    Click to see full review

    Purpose: 

    This book is an effort to help people connect with their families, congregations, and with the Lord.

    Content:

    The author discusses the nuances of small-group ministry from the perspective of an individual’s search to connect with the existing small groups in their lives.  Humans long to connect and the author exposes some myths of belonging and dynamics of group chemistry.  He tells stories that illustrate principles of authentic connection.

    Analysis:

    This is a soulful exploration of our individual journeys to connect with others around us in meaningful ways.  The author does an artful job of communicating what is right and what is wrong in our search to connect with God, our church family and our individual family.

    Application:

    Who will it benefit?

    Almost anyone who will read it.

    How does it benefit?

    It drives the reader to contemplate how they would best connect with others.

    Where does it fit in the ministry design process?

    Philosophy of discipleship.

    Aha Thought:

    “Community is a complex creature.  Many factors contribute to finding successful community.  With the erosion of the geographically close family and the heightened mobility of our culture, many people struggle to learn healthy competencies for community.
    Schools, service agencies, churches, and other organizations are making a concerted effort to help.  Yet several common myths surround the search to belong, myths that dilute and confuse the definitions we employ to describe our journey to connect.
    The myths are:
    More purpose=more belonging
    More personality=more belonging
    More proximity=more belonging
    More small groups=more belonging . . . “ (pp. 11-17)

  • The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and Future of Discipleship

    Brad J. Waggoner. Publisher: B & H Publishing Group.

    Focuses on what is broken and how to fix it.

  • Unfreezing Moves: Following Jesus Into the Mission Field

    by Bill Easum. Publisher: Abingdon Press.

    The author provides 9 ways to help churches connect with the unsaved in their communities.

  • Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith

    by Rob Bell, Zondervan
    An out-of-the-box analysis of our faith