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Books

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I was just wondering what everyone is reading this summer? I have an unofficial/now official list that I’m working on. And I’m sure a couple of things will be added to it by the end of August. (Sorry for the lack of links–I’m writing this from my phone!)

1. 4/7 of The Chronicles of Narnia series. I’m halfway through Caspian and I can’t believe I’ve never read these before now.

2. The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. In pursuit of wholeness.

3. The Great Omission. Dallas Willard’s apologetic for discipleship. Sarah and I are reading this together.

4. One The Verge. I’m interested in the apostolic community conversation and this book by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson looks to expand on things nicely.

5. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s about President Lincoln’s cabinet and the leadership he exerted to bring them together and function well.

6. Homerun by Kevin Meyers and John Maxwell. Our Executive Team is reading through this leadership book about living a life filled with wins.

Well, there’s mine. What’s yours?

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I recently read three books I’d like to share that have impacted the way I look at pastoral ministry. I’m anticipating that their effects will be felt in my life and vocation for many years.

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The first is Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor: A Memoir, which is an engaging look at his own journey from the Montana wilderness to the east coast as he uncovers his calling as a pastor. Peterson has always been a big influence on me, and seeing his development in the ministry was interesting and encouraging.

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Letters to a Young Pastor is the late Calvin Miller’s collection of advice to young leaders in letter form. His commentary on the pastoral life was both challenging and hilarious as he talked about setbacks, victories, and the occasional church politics run-in.

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Finally, Paul David Tripp’s Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry addresses the overall state of the North American pastorate from a behavioral health standpoint. Gut-wrenching in all the necessary ways, this book is a wake-up call to pastors who labor to see Jesus magnified, their families cared for, and their own ministry longevity.

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Mark Howell at Pastors.com has written a summary of the core questions from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage, which are a great way to bring clarity to any oranization.

Here are Lencioni’s 6 Questions:

1. Why do we exist? This is the why question. ”An organization’s core purpose–why it exists–has to be completely idealistic.” ”How do we contribute to a better world?” Don’t settle for the first answer. Ask “Why?” See Start with Why for more.

2. How do we behave? This is about values. Core, Aspirational, Accidental, Permission-to-play. Core values have been identified correctly when it will “allow itself to be punished for living those values and when it accepts the fact that employees will sometimes take those values too far.” Aspirational values are those an organization wants to have, wishes it already had, and believes it must develop in order to maximize it success in its current market environment.” Permission-to-play values are “the minimum behavioral standards that are required in an organization.”

3. What do we do? This is the what question. An “unsexy, one-sentence definition.” Drucker’s “What business are you in?” is a little bit of a blend between this very basic angle and Lencioni’s “why do we exist?” See also, The First Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer.

4. How will we succeed? For Lencioni this revolves around the question, “How will we make decisions in a purposeful, intentional, and unique way that allows us to maximize our success and differentiate us from our competitors?” See also, The Second Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer

5. What is most important? There can’t be multiple top priorities. The implication of top priority is that there really is only one. ”Every organization, if it wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, must have a single top priority within a given period of time.”

6. Who must do what? This is about understanding and agreeing on roles and responsibilities. ”Everyone on the leadership team knows and agrees on what everyone else does and that all the critical areas are covered.”

You can read the rest here.

The Shack

After a weighty recommendation, I have recently finished reading The Shack by William Young.  I expected this book to have and immediate impact due to all the positive reviews on the internet, but I seem to be the same person I was before I opened its pages.  I’m still hoping that is has deep, long-lasting residual effects, much like an oak that takes its time spreading out a root system before deciding to rise high above the horizon.

I can’t say much without giving away significant plot points.  The main character’s name is Mack, a man whose past haunts him even if he won’t admit to it.  He receives an cryptic invitation that would take him to the epicenter of his pain.

The Shack doesn’t disappoint.  What I enjoy most about this book is that it unites head and heart for a perpetual tug-of-war.  For anyone willing to face God-questions head-on, and in practical, everyday scenarios, this is a must-read.  You will find yourself gazing hard into your own heart to search for perceived meaning and answers, all the while contemplating difficult solutions to what humanity has asked from the Divine since our beginning.

And to many, this makes absolutely no sense.  And it’s perfect in clarity all at the same time.

Josh

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