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Shortest Book Reviews May 9, 2017

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Hopecasting by Mark Oestreicher – A refreshing book that manages to unravel the tangled web of christian cliche to impact the heart and provide fresh perspective.  A great book for those in tough situations who want to see a brighter future and need some solid thinking to assure them. 9/10

A Man on Fire, The Story of Maynard James by Paul James – The story of an evangelist preacher who was a key leader in the UK Holiness Movement during the 20th century. A personal account that talks of the strengths and weaknesses of a man of faith as he sought to share the gospel message. 7/10

 

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Quote – Michael Horton March 25, 2017

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This is a challenging quote – what do you think?

As evangelicals we have tended to see the church and its public ministry of Word, sacrament, and oversight of spiritual and material needs of the body as “maintenance” for those who were evangelized once upon a time. They’re already in. But evangelism and mission have to do with going outside the church and its ministry to say and do something else. The cleavage between church and mission is often stated explicitly in evangelistic appeals: “I’m calling you to believe in Jesus, not to join a church.” But what does it mean to make disciples—what does that really look like on the ground? Furthermore, how do we deal with the challenges of religious pluralism and the rising sentiment in evangelical circles that salvation does not require explicit faith in Christ?Michael Horton

Quotes about the Bible March 20, 2017

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God is not the Bible. To make the Bible into God is idolatrous. The Bible is God’s communication—in the form of words—with us. We can trot out here all the important words about the Bible—inspiration, revelation, truth, etc.—and they deserve to be. But those are not enough. Behind all of these words is the astounding claim we Christians make: the Bible is God’s communication with us in the form of wordsScott McKnight

The Bible does provide norms for life. This is all true, but several problems arise with using the Bible principally as a kind of “rule book” for life. First, large chunks of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments have a relatively small proportion of imperatives or commands. Much of Scripture seems to be descriptive rather than obviously prescriptive. Much of Scripture doesn’t tell us to do anything at all, particularly the historically oriented booksMichael Emlett

 

Shortest Book Reviews (Church and Mission) March 15, 2017

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How To Pioneer” – David Male – A good practical handbook for anyone who wants to engage missional in their community. An excellent resource that is practical, sensible and evidence that anyone can engage in pioneering ministry. 10/10

Neighborhood Mapping” – John Fuder – A helpful book with practical wisdom for getting under the skin of your community in order to serve as a missionary church. You think you know your community but maybe you need to think again and put a strategy in place for getting to know it better. This book is gold dust for practical thinkers. 9/10

Church Planting Thresholds” – Clint Clifton – A manual for church planters from a reformed theological perspective. It is very detailed and full of practical wisdom, biblically loaded. It is not for everyone but useful for church leaders who are looking to plant a new church and recruit a team. 6/10

“Am I Missing Something?” – Ruth Roberts (book review) January 29, 2014

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Reading the book Am I Missing Something which is also subtitled “Christianity through the eyes of a new believer” was quite fun. As someone who has been a Christian for a number of years, it is very easy to forget what a challenge our faith and it’s practices can be like for those who are new to its strange ways. Ruth Roberts, a journalist, has an easy style of writing and in a wonderfully conversational way deals with the “Christianity that seems constantly at war with itself” whilst having made “a commitment to God…..to try to find Jesus and keep my eyes fixed on him”.
The book is simple, yet effective, in reminding us how ‘odd’ our church practices and beliefs can seem to those who are not familiar and it resonates with how many of my friends feel at my church and my beliefs. Ruth does not give theological answers but shares her own experiences and how she overcame some of the tensions. My favourite story was when Ruth was challenging herself to be more proactive in her witness, felt guilty for not being as upfront as she felt she ought but saw a great response as she sat silently with someone and their response was “thank you for noticing me”, a precious moment.
I was given this book by Ruth in a twitter giveaway, not a book that I would necessarily have chosen but one that prompted me to think differently, I enjoyed it as a refreshing reminder as we look to disciple new believers in the church. Ruth’s honesty and openness was appreciated and I imagine her thoughts and feelings would be shared by many who have begun their new life in Christ.
As a collection of shorter articles for Christianity magazine, this book is the completed selection.

: “unreached” – a book by Tim Chester December 3, 2012

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The tag line for this book is ‘growing churches in working class and deprived areas” – it will prove a decent seller in the Christian world as it promises to scratch where many evangelicals have started to itch.

The book was an easy read and was certainly competent in its work, that said, it did not inspire me in the way that I had anticipated, there was just something lacking. For those that have engaged in ministry in areas mentioned, there will be little new, rather a recognition of practices that will already be embedded in your life. For those that are exploring, it will be a useful guide.

There are plenty of anecdotes from those in the trenches (a limited few practitioners) that help to earth the theory and there are ideas that will be useful to those dipping their toes in the water. In truth this is a valuable volume with a poor working title – the book is worth reading as it will help you to think through mission in a particular context. However, the whole book could be summed up in one paragraph found halfway through;
“You don’t need a social science degree to work in urban contexts. You don’t need a theory of contextualisation. You need love. Love is the New Testaments core missiological principle” (p74)

Glad I read it, Yes! Although a day with one of the practitioners listed would teach you far more.

: Lead with Luv November 29, 2012

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This book was available for free as a kindle download, unfortunately that offer has ceased. The book is more of an interview by Ken Blanchard with Colleen Barrett but it is packed full of gems. The style of writing helps earth leadership and management tools and enables the reader to get a grasp of the practice that should follow the theory.
Colleen is an exceptional lady who demonstrates great leadership by showing”luv” – quirky stuff (well you can never escape these things). Some of the ideas expressed would be a step too far for many leaders, yet for Southwest Airlines, it worked, there is no escaping that.
Worth a read? Definitely. Will it change your style? Possibly. Would many people adopt it? Unlikely, because it means listening to others and losing an element of control.

Youthwork classics June 8, 2012

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20120608-192004.jpg I have a large library and as I have looked through have found a few bargains. Amongst them was this classic from Danny Brierley. It was in good condition and Amazon have just given me £17.80 for it, who says youthwork does not pay 😉

Book Review – Sacralized Youth Work – Sally Nash December 8, 2011

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The Grove Booklet Series is one that, for me at least, helps to provoke thinking and discussion.  Their very nature means that they are easy to digest but they are best read when chewed over for a time.  One of the most recent in the youth series is “Sacralized Youth Work” from Sally Nash.

This booklet questions our approach to youth work and helps Christian youth workers bridge the gap between the secular and the sacred.  Many of the ideas expressed here relate with the ‘Generation Y’ books recently published and so, to those that have digested them, this is a whistlestop tour of the developed thinking there.

According to Nash, there are 5 key elements to sacralized youth work which are: Place, Conversation, Shared Experience, Fun and Journeying.  These are fleshed out a little through the booklet and worth wrestling through with your team.

The one quote that has stuck with me over the last few weeks since reading my copy is; “young people wanted to talk more about spiritual matters, more than the youth workers gave them opportunity.”  This quote should challenge us all.

Get hold of a few copies and read it through – it will be worth it!

Book Review “In Sheep’s Clothing” May 12, 2011

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This book subtitled “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People""” was bought on a whim but has proved to be most helpful.  We all have those people in our lives (family, friends, colleagues) that we struggle to cope with or trust but are uncertain as to why – our gut instinct is strong on the warning signs but the actual evidence is lacking.  This book highlights a distinctive type of person – the ‘covert aggressive”.  In highlighting a number of case studies the book is very practical and a quick read.  Its conclusions are helpful but in terms of the book, quite short and pithy with little meat on the bones.  Definitely worth a read though.

In a little more detail:

The book is split into 2 parts, the first concentrating on understanding manipulative personalities and the second part on dealing effectively with manipulative people.  The case studies are extremely helpful in terms of the way they are written and it is not difficult to see traits in anyone you meet.  The danger is that you may begin labelling everyone that you meet, when in fact not everyone is ‘guilty as charged’.  If you know of people who fit the character traits there are useful approaches in how to counter their manipulation but to most seasoned observers they are common sense.

All in all a useful tome that may be helpful to help search your own soul.  I am glad that it reached my booklist and am certain that it will be one that I refer to on more than one occasion in the future.