What do you give the person who’s hard to buy for? Evidently, the answer in my case is Books! During the last couple weeks, I’ve been given a number of books, and offered a number of suggestions for books that I just have to read. My “Unread” book-stack is growing faster than the stack of books I’ve already finished. The more I read, the behind I get!
Here’s some of what’s going on in the world of reading around my office and home.
First, there is “the Missouri Buzz.” These are the books that it seems everyone I run into are reading, recommending, sharing with others, quoting, and using in their churches. Three seem to rise to the top: Martha Grace Reese’s Unbinding the Gospel; Paul Borden’s Direct Hit, and the book by yours truly, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. I actually think these three books complement each other very well. My book is about basic congregational process and about how congregations fulfill their mission with excellence. Reese’s book is about how mainline Christians become more comfortable, adept, effective and committed to sharing their faith through prayerful maturing in Christ. And Bordan’s is about how judicatories, such as conferences, help lead congregations to change and growth.
Second, there are the books I’ve been given, or I’m reading currently:
The Millennium Matrix by Rex Miller (recommended to me by several pastors of large churches in Texas). This is quite a mind-bending read, but worth the effort. I’m about half way through.
UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why it Matters, by David Kinnamann. (recommended by my friend, Bishop Janice Huie and given to me by one of the leading pastors in the Missouri Conference).
After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty-and Thirty-Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion, by Robert Wuthnow (recommended by a clergy colleague),
Results That Last by Quint Studer (given to me by church consultant Gil Rendle and the Texas Methodist Foundation Clergy Leadership Initiative). I’m reading this one right now, and hope to have it finished by this weekend. It’s about how to hard-wire changes so that organizations don’t just spring back to their old ways of doing thing as soon as the pressure is off.
Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World, by Bob Roberts (recommended by a clergy colleague). I don’t know anything about this one or about this author, except that I’ve given about a dozen lectures on Friedman’s The World is Flat and how it relates to our work in the United Methodist Church, and so I’m interested to see what Roberts does with this topic.
Becoming Colleagues: Women and Men Serving Together in Faith by Carol Becker (given to me by a clergy colleague and serving as the basis of a study and conversation by our Cabinet together this spring);
Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel (given to me by a District Superintendent).
Effectiveness by the Numbers by William Hoyt (given to me by the Director of Congregational Excellence)
Recreating the Church: Leadership for the Post-Modern Age, by Richard Lamm, (Recommended by a pastor and colleague)
Phew! How will I get all these read and still keep my day job?!?!
I’m actually thrilled by the stimulating discussions that are taking place across our conference because of the common readings among our pastors and lay leadership and through our pastor leadership development groups.
I’d love to read and offer a review on all of the above, but I’m not sure I will achieve that anytime soon. So please feel free to read one or more of the above and submit your own review to this website so we can post it on our “Bookshelf” for others to hear about. “A reading Christian is a knowing Christian,” John Wesley once wrote.
Yours in Christ,
PS: So that you know think it’s not “all work and no play” with my reading, please know that over the Christmas break I enjoyed three of the Alex Cross novels by James Patterson, a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Childs, Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding by Scott Weidensaul; and I’m just starting Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage.