I’m always working through one or more books. Some are strong enough and relevant enough to the readership of this blog to warrant a full review. Others are good books, but perhaps not specifically targeted enough to this audience to need lengthy coverage. Here are a few I heavily skimmed in the last week or so:
Transition Plan: 7 Secrets Every Leader Needs to Know by Bob Russell and Bryan Bucher is about the leadership needed for organizational transition. Just as relay runners practice the all-important baton transition, why don’t Christian leaders likewise prepare for that inevitable moment? Bob Russell’s own transition from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, is one of the most frequently cited examples of wise and successful pastoral transition. The book offers many illustrations from that process. The concluding chapters are the best: “Saying Goodbye” and “Life After Retirement.” They show how to end well and how the best is yet to be.
The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria has an intriguing title with a very simple point. In fact the opening two sentences summarize the idea behind the book:
“This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else. It is about the great transformation taking place around the world, a transformation that, though often discussed, remains poorly understood.”
The author, editor of Newsweek magazine’s international edition, writes in a very readable style. His illustrations are memorable. The application I made as a church leader is to remember to show respect and humility to non-Americans, many of whom perceive our country (and thus my faith) as arrogant and bullying.
Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers is all about what pornography does to the human mind, especially to males. The author, a professor of psychology at a Christian college, helps readers understand the connection between the lack of intimacy and the drive toward pornography. He offers perspectives I have not seen elsewhere, such as an explanation of the neurological patterns in the brain that are reinforced (“hijacked” he says) each time pornography is viewed.
He avoids simplistic answers. While showing a deep empathy toward people who struggle with lust, he points them toward a “rewiring” of the mind that accompanies sanctification. With insights for both married and single men alike, this book offers hope for freedom from pornography. His guidance is not specific, but it is insightful and from all I could tell, consistent with the many Scriptures he references.
A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett is the third biography to be written over the years about an influential pastor who wrote The Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy among many other books. I’ve read all three biographies of him and the distinction of this one is how it focuses on Tozer the person, especially Tozer the husband and father. It draws from extensive interviews with Tozer’s widow, children, and friends. It shows a sympathetic but frank picture of one person with contradictory practices, at least as viewed from our era. On the one hand he experienced incredible personal communion with God and taught masterfully about it. On the other hand he was an emotionally distant husband and father, inconsiderate of his family’s physical and relational needs. I thought it poignant that this great hero to many, including me, described himself as a lonely man. His wife Alma also described herself as lonely.
The Power of Mentoring by Martin Sanders takes the angle that mentoring is the indispensable tool in the spiritual and character formation of today’s emerging leaders. This book by a seminary professor with extensive experience in mentoring provides practical strategies, exercises and models for shaping the kind of disciples who will shape the world.
Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told by Bradley Wright is a heady book, but written with wit. The author is a sociologist who shatters several myths from the secular and Christian media. These include: “Christian young people are leaving the Christian faith in record numbers,” “The divorce rate among Christians is as high as those of nonbelievers,” and “Christians today are watered down in their beliefs and actions.” He focuses on evangelical Christians in particular. See fuller review of the book here:
Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 21 books on various aspects of church health and innovation. His recent “Leadership Network” books blogs include He Irritates Christians to Get Busy and Change the World, Becoming a Healthy Fruitful Multi-Ethnic Church, What Is Necessary for Church Planting to Go Viral?Mark Batterson’s Primal, Updated Publishing Updates, Beyond Christendom Says Migration Keeps Transforming the Church, Terrific Biography of Rick Warren, The Soviet Plot to Kill God, The Worst Moment in Most Church Services, Excellent Resources for Church-Based Grants, Multi-Site Church Roadtrip Released Today, Do White Churches Hold Others in Cultural Captivity?and Church Merger Phenomenon Continues to Expand