Book Reviews

Short Reviews – A Review of My Recent Reading List (2019 – 1st Quarter)

On the right side of this blog, I provide my current reading list. While I often read other books simultaneously, my goal each quarter is to read one book from each of the “steps” that help me fulfill my strategy which is comprised of the acrostic LEARN.* I thought it might be helpful to share a few insights from my reading. Please note, this is not a formal review, but I will state if I recommend the read. My goal here is to simply provide a few key insights from each book.

*Someday I will do an update on that series on this new site, but you can find my original series at the old blog host. – See the series Using the 4L’s in 2017.

The Measure of a Healthy Church by Gene Getz

I have come to know that Getz will approach any writing with an intensely biblical focus. I appreciate that perspective greatly. The beauty of this book is not only the focus on Scripture, but also the principles at the end of each chapter which focus the reader to consider the “measurement” of his/her church. To complete this thought process, Getz brings all of the principles together in the final chapter with a question related to each principle to guide the reader to truly assess his/her church. The principles and the ending survey would be great for discussion purposes among the leadership of the church (however that is defined any church.)

Key Takeaway: The focus of the “divine trinity” of faith, hope, and love. Of course, these words are linked in 1 Corinthians 13, but I had not realized their significance in other NT letters. It was a fascinating insight.

Recommendation: Strong

The American Church in Crisis by David T. Olson

This book is filled with statistics which will scare some people away from reading it. However, the statistics are presented fairly and are easy to absorb (in my opinion, although when I was much younger, I considered working with statistics). Ultimately, the book shows the decline of most denominations related in various ways, such as by region of the country. Some of the insights are very helpful, but the challenge is that the book is copyright 2008. Thus, the data was very useful, but an update would give the church leader today better information.

Key Takeaway: Olson does a good job of sharing statistics from many contexts. Breakdowns are given by age, income, size of church, location, gender, etc. Many charts and graphs are used to help the reader process this information.

Recommendation: Mild (helpful, all of the data is well over a decade old)

The Other 80% by Scott Thumma and Warren Bird

The Pareto Principle (20% is responsible for 80%) is true in so many aspects of our lives. The same is true in the church whether discussing people’s involvement, offering amounts, or a number of other factors. Thumma and Bird provide helpful thoughts on trying to move the 80% towards a more active status. The book shares practical thoughts on the cultural reasons, and how some efforts are well-intentioned, but misguided. And no small part of the issue is a lack of true understanding by those who are in leadership of the church.

Key Takeaway: Two teams, the Listening Team and the Learning Team, are presented as key aspects of helping overcome this persistent issue in churches. Taking time to understand why people are not participating requires true listening. Once the data is gathered and recommendations are made, further evaluation is necessary to determine what can be done to affect the desired result.

Recommendation: Strong

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

What a convicting book. Many examples are given related to leaders who bring the best out of their people and those who diminish the contribution of others. The statement is made that most leaders are somewhere in between the extremes, but the examples provided clearly delineate the difference. The book provides concrete details on the various issues and then summarizes each primary characteristic with a side by side view of a Multiplier compared to a Diminisher.

Key Takeaway: WOW! It is difficult to boil down one particular item, but the reader is forced to consider where they might fall on the scale. However, a leader must be honest in a personal evaluation for the book to have maximum impact. But, the ideas of this book, can help anyone be a better leader if they desire to grow.

Recommendation: Strong – best book this quarter

Note: I have had this book for a few years, but had not read it yet. The version I read was the older one. I am sure the newer one is even better.

The Peace Maker by Ken Sande

One of the courses I teach deals with managing conflict so this was a must read. I have been familiar with the book for many years, but for whatever reason, I had not yet read it. Now, that I have, I am glad I did. The book provides a good basis for understanding why conflict exists, but more importantly provides practical steps for handling conflict. The book is approached from a Christian perspective, but some of the ideas are simply common sense when they are considered.

Key Takeaway: In the first pages of the book, Sande shares The Slippery Slope of Conflict. Keeping the image in mind is extremely helpful as the book progresses, but it also can provide insight into how others are approaching a conflict if the reader will pay attention in the midst of their conflicts.

Recommendation: Strong

Love Does by Bob Goff

This was the most enjoyable book of the quarter. The book is a collection of stories by the author which are shared with a point of sharing a lesson learned about God. The author mentions some biblical aspect in each chapter, although I do not recall any direct scriptural reference. The stories which are shared are usually short, and can almost be used as a devotional, although, again, I do not recall any specific verse or verses being mentioned (by this, I mean the actual address of the verses such as John 3.16).

Key Takeaway: The power of story! I know stories are important, but I struggle to be a good storyteller. Goff has written a book that has captured several of his life’s encounters and tells them masterfully. I need to be better about considering the stories with which I have been involved, and then work to craft them in a meaningful way.

Recommendation: Strong

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