Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Transforming Church in Rural America

And we're off with book review #2.

As a pastor I'm interested in anything that will help foster growth in the church. And as a pastor of a church in a rural area, the title of this book was intriguing. The content was even better. I honestly can't remember the last time I read a better church-growth book. And the reason is that this isn't a typical church growth book. It isn't full of flow charts and diagrams (nothing wrong with those things-they can be useful tools); and it isn't just a rah-rah time for the author to pat himself on the back. This book is a challenge to pastors everywhere-a challenge to believe that God can use your church, in your community to do great things for His glory.

The book begins with the author's story, which is a fascinating, compelling account of how he was led from large church in an urban area to a much smaller church in a not-at-all urban area. And in a conversational style, he explains the things he did as pastor of his church-the things that worked great and the things that were spectacular failures. It's as though you were sitting down for a nice conversation with a friend who says, "This is what we've done; this is what worked for us. Take and use whatever works for you."

The author includes many specific ideas (always careful to state that he isn't recommending you do exactly what he did, but that you find what will work in your area), and several links to videos and documents that can offer further assistance.

There's tons of good stuff in this book and I would recommend it to anyone.
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the www.booksneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. I did so because I liked the book!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

So the other day I signed up at booksneeze.com. They send me books, I review them. Pretty sweet deal. Here's my first review.

"These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, one billion are hungry." So begins Max Lucado's latest offering, "Outlive Your Life." If you're familiar with Lucado's work, the subject matter might be a bit of a shock. In books like “A Gentle Thunder” and “When God Whispers Your Name”, Lucado primarily encourages his readers. In this book he seeks to challenge them. In his warm, gentle style, Lucado helps open the eyes of Christians who are far too often blind to how the rest of the world lives. Using the early church as his reference point, Lucado helps us see just what an impact these 1st century Christians made on the world around them-not just from a spiritual viewpoint, but from a physical viewpoint as well.

Unfortunately, when you discuss how the church can minister to the physical needs of the world, objections are often raised; usually they sound something like, "The most important thing we can do is preach the gospel!" And on this point, Lucado is very plain; the most important thing the church can offer the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But at the same time, when we have opportunity to minister to the physical needs of those around us, we should.

Lucado's book reads quickly and his point is simple; if God created us to make a difference, shouldn't we be making that difference? He skillfully handles this potentially thorny topic without lecturing or condescending. He simply points his readers to the truth of God's word and lets them choose for themselves. This is a challenging book, but a highly recommended one as well.

Disclaimer: In accordance with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission,I am required to mention that Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc. has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review. Sending me a free copy in no way is compensation for, or a guarantee of, a positive review.