I try to be a continual reader. I read some books cover to cover, and others I give a solid skim. Here are some solid books I worked through in the last couple of weeks, some new, some older, but all of which I recommend:
C. Peter Wagner: Wrestling with Alligators (Regal, 2010)
For more than five decades, Dr. Wagner had led the Church from one great move of God to the next. In Wrestling with Alligators, Prophets and Theologians, Dr. Wagner invites you to experience these spiritual paradigm shifts as they happened, and shares how these surprising moves of the Spirit impacted his own ongoing transformation. Witness the seismic changes in the Church’s recent history through the eyes of one leader who has seen it unfold!
Transition Plan, Bob Russell and Bryan Bucher
Transition Plan 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.
Hit the Bullseye, Paul D. Borden (Abingdon)
Many congregations are declining due to an inward focus, and see their pastor as someone who should only minister to their needs. But pastors must anticipate a better future. Direct Hit offers hope to leaders of congregations that have lost their outward focus. By preparing for and leading systemic change, pastors can bring new life into the culture of a congregation, guiding it to answer God’s call to reach people with the good news.
I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt, Vince Antonucci
Are you feeling spiritually bored? Do you come away from church asking “Is this it?” If you’re craving a fresh perspective on Christianity, get ready to experience a faith that’s exciting, beautiful, and powerful! Using provocative stories and raw honesty, Antonucci shows how Jesus lived—and reveals what he wants and expects from his followers. 208 pages, softcover from Baker
Donald S. Whitney, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.
Christians today are busier than ever before, doing the “spiritual” work they feel called to out of devotion for God. But are these earnest followers of Christ actually living their faith in a manner that is pleasing to Christ? Whitney effectively challenges this “busy hands, empty heart” epidemic. Whitney poses intensely introspective questions to aid Christians as they gauge their own level of spiritual health. Whitney also discusses the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditating upon Scripture, taking communion and fellowship with others of like faith, showing readers how to transform these often automatic enterprises into faith-building activities. He advises Christians to spend more energy enjoying God and developing a Christlike nature, rather than accomplishing ever-accelerating goals.
1. Do you thirst for God?
2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
3. Are you more loving?
4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
8. Do you still grieve over sin?
9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
10. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?
Five Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them, Charles Stone
Before pastors reach burnout and leave the ministry, they experience frustration and disappointment in ministry. Charles Stone, a veteran pastor, helps his fellow pastors understand and meet the challenges, regaining hope and energy to continue in their calling. Based on new information from The Barna Group and additional research, Stone shows readers what pastors are saying about ministry and how to overcome the obstacles, rebuild community within the congregation, and persevere with joy.
Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 23 books on various aspects of church health and innovation.