Getting Things Done by David Allen was required reading for Tony in his Coaching Network that he is a part of with Nelson Searcy who heads up the Journey Church in New York and Church Leader Insights. It's a very practical book on how to organize your life as David has a system that he has developed over many years. David not only utilizes this system himself but is a coach for many business people and executives as he helps them implement this in their professional and personal lives.
I must admit at first the whole system seemed a little overwhelming. David spends the first three chapters talking about the philosophy behind his system and why our culture today has created environments that are so challenging to work in. Not only are there constant interruptions via email, voice mail and cell phones, but our organizations, companies and personal lives are constantly morphing and changing, and the work most people engage in is what he calls "knowledge work" which he uses a Peter Drucker quote to describe as:
"In knowledge work... the task is not given; it has to be determined. 'What are the expected results form this work?' is ... the key question in making knowledge workers productive. And it is a question that demands risky decisions. There is usually no right answer; there are choices instead. And results have to be clearly specified, if productivity is to be achieved."
After being a little overwhelmed in the first three chapters, he spends the next seven chapters going through a very practical step-by-step process of how to implement what he is talking about. He even covers things as basic as how to set up your work space and the tools you need before even getting started.
Personally as I've transitioned on staff at Life Church and now do much of my work from home, I've struggled as the tools and methods I had in place at Texas Instruments to stay organized aren't all available to me now. This book has been great as it not only motivates you to get organized but it acts as a handbook that you refer to and reference as you work day-to-day. I'm about three weeks in to using many of the tools and systems that David suggests in my personal and professional life. So far the results have been very positive but I still have some adjustments and details to work out for my specific situation.
For me the biggest benefit is I've been able to focus more on the task currently at hand (be it spending time with family, going to sleep or working on stuff) and I've had less things on my mind. I referenced what David said about this in this post.
This is probably the most challenging and dangerous book I've ever read besides the Bible. The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical is written by Shane Claiborne. Shane Claiborne grew up in a Christian home and through a series of events from youth church camps, attending seminary, serving briefly at Willow Creek Community Church, and spending time with Mother Teresa he now is part of The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He calls people to a "new and ancient way of life that is so attractive, who would settle for anything else?"
I promise that if you read this book your perspectives of church, the world, politics, war, peace, injustice, poverty and our culture will be challenged. You will be challenged to examine and discover what an authentic Christian faith looks like and what Jesus said it should be. As the book's back cover says, "this book will comfort the disturbed, disturb the comfortable, and invite believers to change the world with Christ's radical love."
I would share more of what I got out of the book personally, but to be honest I am still trying to process all that was said. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my mind, view of culture, society and my personal responsibility as a Christian is really being challenged right now and I have many more questions then answers.
This book is funny, entertaining, challenging and filled with insight and truths that Craig has learned from his own life, the lives of others and truths found in the Bible. If you've never read one of Craig's books before then you should as they are extremely easy to read. As you're reading it's like having a conversation filled with jokes, side comments and honest truth. While this book is mostly targeted at people not yet married, married people like myself will get a lot out of it.
This book tackles many topics, a few of the ones that really stood out to me:
If you don't know who Craig is or want to watch a funny video about squirrels and sex? Then check this out:
At first glance you would think this book is only about growing a church or attracting more people at a weekend service. However, Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan, dig in to topics ranging from doing children's ministry, to looking at your facilities and parking lots, to how you communicate to people, to measuring the impact you're having and examining the topics and music you use.
The book is written as a series of 99 chapters which represent different ideas and thoughts, and each chapter takes up about two pages each. I found it difficult to read from front to back as each chapter is on a different topic then the one before. I'm more of a person that likes to read several chapters at once on a single topic... so for people like me there is a topical index in the back of the book that lists all the chapters categorized by topic. Unfortunately, I didn't find this until I was almost done with the book!
Tony and Tim were both pastors at Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana when the book was written (Tim is still there, Tony is now at Newspring Church.) Granger is an amazing church. However, because of it's size and maturity as a church (it was started in 1986) some of the ideas and concepts don't apply to newer churches likes ours (we are a ways off from building a state-of-the-art children's center or large auditorium.)
Overall I give this book 3.5 stars. It's a good collection of ideas, but nothing ground breaking that I haven't heard in other places. However, it is a good read as it reminds you of all the different areas in a church one should look at and keep an eye on as a church grows and matures.
4 STARS - Launch by Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas is a very practical guide for anyone that is planning to start a church or is in the first few years of a church plant. Nelson and Kerrick speak from experience as they share what they have learned through planting their church The Journey in New York City.
Here is why I give 4 Stars (out of 5 Stars) to this book:
In closing I'd recommend this book to anyone looking to plant a church or that is in the process. This book has been added to my library and I'll be recommending it to others.
On a related note, if you have explored the resources available by Nelson Searcy at Church Leader Insights they are highly practical and very valuable. We've used many of them at our church. They are worth the investment.
I love to read however I usually don't get the time I'd like to read all the books of interest I come across. As I finish books (both non-fiction and fiction) I plan to post short reviews here.
The most recent book I finished is The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch. Even though I love technology, blogs were an area I was fairly uneducated with and didn't have much experience with before reading this book. This book gets 5 STARS from my perspective. Here's why:
1) Extremely Practical - I love books and resources that not only give you the theory and big ideas behind a concept but the nuts and bolts of how to implement it. This book does exactly that. The first eight chapters talk about what blogs are, what they are not and how they can be used. The rest of the book talks you through all the practical details of how to create a blog and things to do and not do. There's also a chapter on what to do to build a really bad blog which was both entertaining and educational.
2) Points You to Other Resources - Throughout the book there's interviews with leaders in the church world (Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Craig Groeschel, Tony Morgan, Greg Surratt, Mark Batterson) that effectively use blogs in their spheres of influence. At the back of the book there are also 16 other Blogs referenced with a short description of each from the business, political, church and personal world. In the sections where he talks about actually creating a blog he points you to several different blog sites and tools you can use.
3) Well Rounded - I appreciate when authors tell the whole story about a subject. This book is obviously on blogging and why it's a good thing for individuals and churches to do. However, it also talks about many of the negatives of blogging. Brian is clear on when he feels blogs should not be used or when someone should stop blogging. I appreciate the honesty.
Those are the three reasons I'm giving this book 5 STARS. It was obviously a large factor in my decision to start this blog. I encourage church and ministry leaders to read this. Blogs are a powerful tool that can be used to influence and reach people that other traditional church marketing (such as mailers, Sunday morning, advertising) never would. They provide an honest, un-finished, behind-the-scenes picture of who you are and what you're all about, and this is what many people want to see way before they'd ever set foot in your church.