I started this year with a goal of providing one full length book review per week. Needless to say, I might of slightly underestimated the schedule of a church planter. Each week I sit down and list out the tasks I need to accomplish in the week and then I allot the amount of time I reasonably think the job will take me to complete. This week that number came out to 90 hours.
I have decided that providing book reviews is not essential to what I believe God has called me to do right now, so I will be abandoning them. I won’t stop reading though, as I believe that is one of the most import jobs of any leader and especially that of a pastor. The reason I wanted to review books in the first place was two-fold. First, I wanted to archive my own thoughts on books that I had read while they were still fresh on my mind. Second, because I’ve always enjoyed the reading lists of others and found them useful to my own learning journey. Likewise, I hoped to maybe introduce others to books that they may not otherwise come across.
So, beginning today I am going to do a hybrid. Instead of full length book review weekly, I will provide monthly recaps of every book that I read during the month. The summaries will be brief, but should give you a good starting point to decide whether or not they might interest you.
With that out of the way let’s jump into the February edition of my reading list.
1. Popular: The Power of Likability In a Status-Obsessed World by Mitch Prinstein
I had really low expectations for this book. I was listening to a podcast that had Mitch on as a guest and I was intrigued enough to buy the book. I felt like there was only so much a person could say on the subject of popularity, but decided to buy the book anyways. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the book and found it really useful for life. Mitch describes two types of popularity, the first is tied with your status. This is probably what you imagine when you think of popularity. The other kind is something we should all strive for, it is a popularity described by likeability. The latter definition has all sorts of important implications for our everyday life. I would recommend this book for sure.
2. Daily Rituals: How Artist Work by Mason Currey
I love reading about the habits and routines of others. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, I assume a few people share my intrigue because Mason Currey has decided to write a book on the subject. The book is really interesting if you like this topic and I’d imagine it would seem incredibly redundant if you don't. My biggest takeaway was to relax. Sometimes, I feel like everyday needs to be special if I am going to leave a meaningful legacy, but that simply isn’t necessary. Many of the world changing artist described in this book lived boring and often uneventful lives. Others, ran on cocaine. I am not going to do cocaine, so I’ll just relax instead. (:
3. Guerrilla Marketing For Nonprofits by Jay Conrad Levinson, Frank Adkins, and Chris Forbes
I know Chris Forbes and I have been wanting to read this book he co-authored for a long time. I finally got around to it this month. It was especially useful for me as I am about to embark on a campaign to raise awareness for Ascent Church.
4. The God Ask: A Fresh, Biblical Approach to Personal Support Raising by Steve Shadrach
I have stopped looking for a fundraising silver bullet. It doesn’t exist. Fundraising just takes a lot of work, coffee, meetings, prayer and some more work. You just have to do it. I don’t think this book is necessarily a “fresh” approach to fundraising, but it is a helpful one. If you are new to raising funds for missionary type endeavors, this book is a good start.
5. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller
I had heard about this book for a long time and just never made time to read it. I now regret the decision to wait this long. Keller is a genius. As I think through discipling others, I can’t think of a better book to work through with a new believer. It is short and powerful. Chapter five alone is the worth the price of the book.
6. Blitzscaling: The Lightning Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman
I enjoy Reid’s podcast “Masters of Scale”. I’m not sure if much of the principles apply to church, in fact I’m certain that they don’t apply at all. However, as I read the book I kept thinking about Mars Hill led by Mark Driscoll. The church was large, but often overstretched themselves in the name of growth. It worked great until it didn’t. This happens all the time in start up world, but the consequences are much starker in the local church. Slow growth is the name of the game for churches. However, I found the book really interesting as it provided a behind the scenes look into the thought process of leaders in companies like Facebook and Google. I finally understand why customer service is so bad or even nonexistent in companies like this.
7. Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down by Tony Merida
Great book on our call to be salt and light in the world as Christ followers. The Church should be leading the way in serving the poor, orphaned & outcast. This book will inspire you to action and convict you of passivity.
8. Eternity is Now In Session by John Ortberg
Super strong. I probably wouldn't agree with everything Ortberg says, but the way he puts salvation into perspective is refreshing. I didn’t realize that my definition of the Gospel and the one Jesus actually gave were different until reading this book. This book also helped me be able to clearly explain why people who reject God on this side of eternity, wouldn’t like Heaven anyways. This book is needed for those of us who have become settled in the Gospel and need to once again see the beauty of the invitation we’ve been given to participate in the Kingdom of God.
9. Blood, Guts & Fire The Gospel According to Leviticus by Rob Bell
Rob Bell has recently released a three (soon to be four) part audio commentary on the book of Leviticus. I am really eating it up! In fact, I believe Leviticus will be the first book we journey through when Ascent launches in September. This is a book I once avoided because it seemed so archaic, now I see it as one of the most relevant books for 2019. My heart was saddened throughout, though, as Rob clearly leaves out the best news of all; Jesus is the culmination and point of all of the book. Rob is a fabulous communicator, but because of his rejection of Christ he has lost influence with many in the evangelical world. That is a shame. I pray that God would open his eyes to the supremacy of Jesus alone.
I hope you will check some of these books out if they interest you! I believe reading is one of the most important things we can do.
I'd love to hear what you have read recently or any feedback on the books I mentioned above. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.