Fine books on preaching/leadership

Preaching courses are absolute essential courses in seminary but seem to be given lower priority today in place of leadership. Here are a few of my favorite books on practical ministry that I think are absolutely excellent.

On preaching:

Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001).

Donald R. Sunukjian, Invitation to Biblical Preaching: Proclaiming Truth with Clarity and Relevance (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007).

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, 2005.

On Christian leadership:

George Barna, A Fish Out of Water: 9 Strategies to Maximize your God-given Leadership Potential (Integrity Publishers, 2002).

  • this last one might not be used much in seminary but I think is chocked-full of valuable information to know.

What books have shaped your life?

Everyone has either person(s) or books that have greatly shaped who they are inside and how they think and carry out their personal live.  I’ve read many books throughout my Christian life and studies but not everything have necessarily shaken me up to the core and changed the way I think and behave; however, these ones did for me. They have been the most influential in shaping my spirituality.  These may not necessarily be the best books available—but just what I have read myself.  Here’s several I’ve come up with so far in my inventory.

On Christian apologetics:
Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Crossway Books, 1981).

On the Christian life:
Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man (New York: Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1968).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (Harper, 1978)

Can small churches be strategically small?

Is your church too big?  Maybe think about downsizing.

What?!  Why would you want to get smaller when churches are thinking of ways of how to grow?  Author Brandon J. O’Brien in his new book, The Strategically Small Church (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2010) thinks that small churches have advantages that large churches do not have.  They are more intimate, nimble, more conducive to being authentic, and more effective.

O’Brien likes the idea of being lean and nimble and this is one natural trait of a small church.  Small churches do not think like large churches, which is a natural advantage because when churches become large, people have a tendency to take on a consumer mentality and think of the church as a service provider.  I totally agree because I have also felt this way when I was church-hopping larger churches as a younger person.

Being “authentic” is important for this post-modern youth generation who are trapped in a throw-away, temporary, and materialistic world.  The author says: “Many young worshipers are turned off by over-produced worship music and a speaker who is too polished” (66).  I agree; but why do many large successful churches have polished worship music and speakers? I guess that’s why may be large and filled with people, but some might also be lacking young people in their teens and 20s. There is a falling away of the young generation in many churches. There’s nothing wrong with large churches, as long as “its authenticity shines through its professionalism.”  Along these same lines, O’Brien advises readers to not confuse relevance with trendiness.  “True relevance is being sensitive to the culture or subculture” in which we do our incarnational ministry in our specific location.

I especially like this wisdom on recognizing the benefits of small congregations:
“When a pastor fails to recognize the benefits of the small congregation and insists on running it like a large ministry, he will ultimately undermine and obscure the church’s strengths. Rather than creating a mega ministry, a think-big strategy can destroy the church’s spirit” (73).  He says to “Just be yourself.”  Furthermore, being authentic is not a strategy because once it becomes a strategy, one becomes inauthentic.

The two congregations where I minister are small and so I have personally found this book very helpful and encouraging for me in my own context.  I am sure other pastors of small congregations who might feel limited by small congregations will also be encouraged by his positive outlook on small churches. The author, Brandon J. O’Brien, is editor-at-large of Leadership Journal and is a contributor to the Out of Ur blog.  I’m sure he has gained much insight from the challenges faced by the various pastors who have articles submitted for the Leadership Journal (e.g., Alan Hirsch, Dave Gibbons, Willow Creek). However, O’Brien is not just an editor, but many of his points are qualified because they are insights he has gained from his experience as a pastor.  This is a good book for you if you minister in a small church, or also in a big church, but want to do ministry like a small church.

And thanks to the fine folks at Bethany House for sending me this book to review.  Book available at:  Amazon and CBD.

Missional church: Church When the Maps Have Changed

Alan J. Roxburgh, one of premier authorities on the missional church today spoke at Montreal Diocesan Theological College at a clergy conference, Sept. 26-28, 2010. There were seven lectures on the topic: Church When the Maps Have Changed (link).

Lecture #1 | Lecture #2 | Lecture #3 | Lecture #4 | Lecture #5 | Lecture #6 | Lecture #7 (round table discussion)

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I also recently picked up one of Roxburgh’s books at a pastor’s study conference earlier this month, and I look forward to reading it when I get some breathing room.

  • Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren.  Introducing the Missional Church: What it is, Why it Matters, How to Become One. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.

Book giveaway: Romans commentary

Marc Cortez, who blogs at Scientia et Sapientia, is giving away a commentary on Romans by Douglas Moo. If you’re like me and you can’t afford to purchase too many commentaries, go there and enter the contest.  Yes I do hope to win.

Tyndale Seminary Online Reading Room

Tyndale Seminary Online Reading Room webpage has links to numerous biblical-theological resources that conveniently links to google books.  You’ll find links to Karl Barth, Bonhoeffer, Lesslie Newbigin, Moltmann, plus more.

Christian Book Distributors (CBD) has come out with two new sets:

Some books on the missional church

Craig Van Gelder. The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit (Baker, 2007)
Craig Van Gelder, editor. The Missional Church and Leadership Formation: Helping Congregations Develop Leadership Capacity (Eerdmans, 2009)

I’ve recently finished reading two books on the missional church.   These two books have been my foundational readings about the missional church.

  1. Craig Van Gelder. The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit (Baker, 2007).
  2. Craig Van Gelder, editor. The Missional Church and Leadership Formation: Helping Congregations Develop Leadership Capacity (Eerdmans, 2009).

I am now re-reading the foundational book: Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (Eerdmans, 1998), edited by Darrell Guder, who is another key author.

Another important author in the mission church conversation is Alan Roxburgh.

And if you’re interested, here’s a good list of books on the missional church.

I will give my personal opinion on the missional church movement in a post coming up.