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Category: Book Reviews (page 1 of 15)

Don’t Miss Perry Noble’s Latest: The Most Excellent Way to Lead

the most excellent wayI spent some time this week with The Most Excellent Way to Lead, a new book from Perry Noble. Noble is the senior and founding pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 35,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. If you’re not familiar with Perry Noble, in addition to being a pastor, he is one of the most engaging speakers I’ve ever heard and an author of books like Overwhelmed and Unleash (Overwhelmed was developed into a very powerful DVD-driven study).

If you didn’t catch it from the title, The Most Excellent Way to Lead is based on 1 Corinthians 13. Often referred to as “the love chapter,” Noble points out in the introduction that while these verses are commonly used  in wedding ceremonies or as advice for newlyweds, chapter 13 is “primarily a chapter on how to lead, not how to have a great marriage.”

The Most Excellent Way to Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership is a very good read. If you’ve ever heard Perry speak, you’ll easily recognize his voice right away in the book. Definitely a speaker that grabs attention and holds onto it, his writing has a very similar quality. Packed with stories that you can just hear him telling, it is a page-turner and an easy read.

In addition to being an easy read, The Most Excellent Way to Lead is also very practical and would be a great book to read with a team. Ever chapter concludes with two sets of questions (one to ask yourself and another to ask your team). I can definitely see this book being used by many to disciple and develop leaders and coaches.

If you want to become a better leader or to grow in your leadership capability, you’ll want to devour The Most Excellent Way to Lead. Perry Noble is a leader God is using in an amazing way and this book offers many great insights into the process God used to make a great leader. Don’t miss this one! I loved it and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Books that Have Shaped My Thinking

booksI read continually. I can’t remember the last time there hasn’t been a stack of books on the bedside table and another in my office. One of my early mentors told me you could tell when someone’s brain died by the copyrights dates on his library shelves. I believed him.

Still, not every book truly shapes my thinking. Some I simply skim. Some I never finish. And some I read again and again.

There have been a number of books that create an indelible mark on my brain. They shape my thinking.

I’ve been thinking about which books have made the biggest difference in my thinking.

For now, these are the lists:

Thinking Strategically

Leadership

Productivity

The Changing Western Culture

Spiritual Formation

Image by Sam Greenhalgh

Good Faith: Must Read from David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons

good faithSpent some time this week with Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, a new book from David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. An encore for Kinnaman and Lyons, their 2007 collaboration unChristian was an eyeopening book that “presented the North American church with an ‘outsider’s view’ of itself and challenged individual Christian and church communities to seriously consider the critiques offered by young nonbelievers.”

The book’s title is an interesting play on words, contending that “faith, when it is done right, is good. It is good not only for the faithful but for non-believers as well. Lived well and practiced consistently, good faith may be the best hope for our neighbors and society as a whole.”

Research-based, the Barna Group “interviewed thousands of US adults and more than one thousand faith leaders, including Protestant pastors and Catholic priests, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Mormon and other clergy. The goal was to get an accurate lay of the cultural landscape, particularly of the places where communities of faith feel friction with their surrounding culture–and vice versa.”

The essence of Good Faith can be found in three questions:

  • “What does the future hold for people of faith when people perceive Christians as irrelevant and extreme?
  • In what ways can faith be a force for good in society?
  • How can people of faith contribute to a world that, more and more, believes religion is bad?”

Good Faith is delivered in three parts. Part One carefully illustrates the current and rapidly changing cultural landscape of North America. Part Two wrestles with how to live good faith and peers with new insight into many of the most challenging aspects of our fractured landscape (i.e., sex and sexuality, race, politics, and public life, morals and virtues, and many more). Finally, Part Three wraps up with a compelling look and vision for the Church and its future.

Like unChristian, my copy of Good Faith is heavily marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared. So much to absorb, it already begs a more careful second reading. I’ll definitely be challenging our staff and leadership team to dig into it as well.

While there were many sections that grabbed my attention and caused me nod my head in agreement or shake my head in sadness, this is a tremendously hopeful book. Like The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons’ 2010 book, a way forward is compellingly presented. For example, I can’t wait to begin to apply the principles delivered in Love, Believe, Live (an important chapter in Part Two).

If you have any interest in being salt and light in your neighborhood or workplace, Good Faith is a must read. Please don’t miss this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Coaching Habit Is a Must Read for People Developers

coaching habitSpent some time with a new book from Michael Bungay Stanier this week. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever is probably something you ought to be taking a look at.

Stanier first caught my attention with Do More Great Work, an engaging book about productivity I discovered a few years ago. What I loved about Do More Great Work was its simple practicality; a set of simple and powerful exercises designed to help you find, start and sustain great work.

You’ll never guess what I found in The Coaching Habit. A set of simple and powerful questions designed to help you bring out the best in the people you coach (or should be coaching).

Stanier draws on years of experience training more than 10,000 managers around the world in practical, everyday coaching skills. I was immediately caught up in the easy-to-read and at the same time profoundly practical delivery of the ideas in the book.

At the heart of the book are 7 essential coaching questions that can be used very effectively to develop the people you are coaching. Yes, I am a fan of great questions and this is a very powerful set of questions.

A 21st century resource, The Coaching Habit references a number of podcasts and engaging training videos that enhance the experience (the videos are actually linked to in the Kindle version).

Don’t be distracted by the fact that this is a business book. If you lead a team or are responsible for developing and discipling coaches and leaders, your copy of The Coaching Habit will be just as marked up and highlighted as mine is.

If you’re looking for resources that will help you grow as a developer of people, don’t miss The Coaching Habit. I’ll be recommending this one to my whole team!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

God Dreams: A Great New Playbook for Vision and Execution

god dreamsI’ve spent some time with the newest book from Will Mancini this week. If you’re involved at all in your church’s leadership team, you’re going to want to know about God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future.

If you’re not familiar with Will Mancini, he is the founder of Auxano, a growing nationwide non-profit church consulting group. He’s also the creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision and Create Movement. I’ve long counted Church Unique as a must read for church leadership teams charged with identifying and developing vision and mission.

What does God Dreams bring to the table? I think Mancini’s words from the preface may say it best: “I hope God Dreams provides you with a deeper sense of meaning personally as a leader, [helps] you experience significant improvement in your ability to inspire others, and see your team focusing in a new way on God things and not just good things.”

In Church Unique Mancini introduced the vision frame, four essential questions that help frame who you are as a church. God Dreams is primarily about what’s inside the frame and introduces the horizon storyline, a new tool that “will help you build a visionary plan that integrates the best practices of long-term thinking and short-term execution.”

The 12 vision templates identified in the book are really the result of an insight developed over 12 years working, listening and praying with church teams around the country. Patterns developed and settled into four broad categories of vision. Each of the four categories opened further into three variations revealing a total of 12 vision templates.

God Dreams is an inspiring book, but not in the sense of great stories that fan vision into flame. It’s not a quick read. It’s one that should be read carefully. What I love about God Dreams is that like in Church Unique, Mancini skillfully and methodically lays out the path to a great discovery and a potentially powerful implementation. There were a number of sections that begged to be read again a little more carefully in order to discern and glean the finer points.

The 12 vision templates are laid out in part three in a very innovative way. This is genius! In a 60 page section right in the middle of the book, the 12 vision templates are laid out in a way that allows leadership teams to “discern which might be a primary template for your church and which might be a secondary template.”

God Dreams is much more than a theoretical presentation. It really is about implementation. “Part four develops the long-range vision and how to use it. Part five shows how to build and execute your short-range goals.” I can definitely see the horizon storyline tool helping many churches clarify vision and then move beyond simple clarification to implementation.

If you’re looking for a way to help your church take meaningful and intentional steps in the right direction, God Dreams ought to be on your radar!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

H3 Leadership Is the Best Book on Leadership I’ve Read in a Long Time

H3 LeadershipI don’t know how it will be for you, but H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle is a book I just about couldn’t put down! So good! The newest book from Brad Lomenick, is a great read and one I will come back to again and again.

Brad Lomenick is the former Executive Director and key Visionary of Catalyst for 12 years, helping to build it into a dynamic and world changing organization, a community of change makers. He is a leadership consultant, speaker, founder of BLINC, and author of The Catalyst Leader and H3 Leadership. He also has a great blog where he writes about leadership, the next generation, creativity, innovation, social media, teamwork, and personal growth.

H3 Leadership identifies 20 essential leadership habits organized into three distinct filters Lomenick calls “the 3 Hs”: Humble (Who am I?), Hungry (Where do I want to go?) and Hustle (How will I get there?).

I read my copy on a Kindle, but it is still highlighted and bookmarked throughout. I’m not surprised. Actually I noticed in the about this book section that 1413 passages had been highlighted 48956 times! Clearly…I am not the only one thinking this is a great read, packed with powerful insights into leadership.

H3 Leadership begins with a chapter zero that sets the tone for the book. Chapter zero tells the story of the end of Lomenick’s time with Catalyst and the sabbatical that produced the reflection that led to the book. More importantly, chapter zero introduces the idea that “leadership is more than hard work; it is habitual work” and that “the path to being a better leader is paved with the asphalt of the habits we develop.”

Each chapter covers one of the 20 essential leadership habits and every chapter is literally full of great personal stories, quotes and insights from world leaders past and present. Very readable (although I was constantly turning back a page or two to reread something I had just highlighted or bookmarked), I read the first section in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down!

Every chapter also includes a set of very practical takeaway practices, a set of practices that if built into habit will be life-changing. These form the basis for what could be (and should be) a set of powerful daily practices.

Honestly, I cannot recommend H3 Leadership highly enough! This is without a doubt the best book on leadership I’ve read in a long, long time. If you’ve not picked it up yet, stop what you are doing and get it right now. You will be very glad you did.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Take a Look at Max Anders’ Brave New Discipleship

brave new worldI spent some time with a new book from Max Anders that I think you’re going to want to know about. I really stumbled across it as I worked my way through a stack of books that had been submitted as part of Outreach Magazine’s resource of the year project. Hadn’t heard of the book. Was only vaguely familiar with the author, but was very impressed with Brave New Discipleship: Cultivating Scripture-Driven Christians in a Culture-Driven World.

The title is a reference to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in which “he imagined a very unpleasant future resulting not from everything being withheld from us, but from everything being made available to us, regardless of its value.” It is Anders’ observation that Huxley’s vision of the future is coming true and that “twentieth-century models of discipleship will not effectively translate widely into this Brave New World of twenty-first culture (from the introduction).”

In Brave New Discipleship Anders offers a set of 17 principles for discipling others. You can also “use the same principles to disciple yourself.” The principles are presented in short chapters and every chapter includes a set of exercises designed to “increase your memory, understanding, and application of the material in the chapter.”

The 17 principles include what Anders calls “the 7 marks of a complete Christian.” A few examples are, “a complete Christian worships God individually,” “a complete Christian worships God corporately,” and “a complete Christian impacts the world.”

Brave New Discipleship as a stand alone resource is definitely worth adding to your thinking about designing a discipleship pathway that works in the 21st century. There is also a video series that I’ve not seen or had an opportunity to review that might be worth taking a look at.

If you’re looking for resources that will help you build a discipleship pathway, I think you need to take a look at Brave New Discipleship. There are several ideas here that I know you will find helpful.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Add “The Irresistible Community” to Your Recommended List

irresisible communityI spent some time this week with a new book from one of small group ministry’s most important voices. The Irresistible Community: An Invitation to Life Together is the newest book from Bill Donahue, a popular conference speaker, prolific author and leadership consultant. Most importantly, Bill was “Director of Leader Development & Group Life for the Willow Creek Church & Association where he created leadership strategies and events for over 10,000 leaders on 6 continents in over 30 countries.”

The Irresistible Community finds its reference point and takes its cue from the story of the upper room “where Jesus will use some very common objects to communicate some very profound mysteries concerning the Kingdom of God.” The table, the towel and the truth turn out to be three essential ingredients of authentic community.

Each of the three essential ingredients (table, towel, and the truth) receive the full treatment with a tasty mix of engaging stories and extremely practical ideas for application and implementation. Bill’s breadth and depth of experience really lends itself to writing a book like this one. Definitely not a book to be skimmed, it really deserves a careful read and an eye for takeaways, applications and practices.

I am always a sucker for a compelling concept and I love one of the organizing ideas of this one. An extra bonus, each of the 12 chapters begin with an intriguing story told from the perspective of one of the 12 attendees at the supper in the upper room. I loved it!

The Irresistible Community is definitely a book that should be read by small group ministry point people, coaches and leaders. I wish there was an included set of discussion questions, but it would be a simple matter to develop a set for each chapter. There is so much here that begs to be discussed and applied.

I consider several of Bill’s earlier books to be required reading for small group pastors. The Irresistible Community joins the list of essential reads. This is a very good read. Savor it and then be sure and pass it on to your coaches and small group leaders.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Don’t Miss Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations that Will Help Your Church Grow

lasting impactI’ve been spending some time with a great new book from Carey Nieuwhof these last couple weeks. Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations that Will Help Your Church Grow is the newest book from Nieuwhof. With one of the most popular blogs, especially on the topic of reaching unchurched people, his is a familiar name for many of us.

There is a lot to really like about Lasting Impact. Framed around 7 conversations that would help any church to grow, every chapter skillfully develops both the need for the conversation and how to have it. There’s even a set of discussion questions at the end of every chapter.

The 7 conversations are:

  • Conversation #1. Why Are We Not Growing Faster?
  • Conversation #2. How Do We Respond as People Attend Church Less Often?
  • Conversation #3. Are Our Leaders Healthy . . . Really?
  • Conversation #4. What Keeps High-Capacity Leaders from Engaging Our Mission?
  • Conversation #5. Why are Young Adults Walking Away from Church?
  • Conversation #6. What Cultural Trends Are We Missing?
  • Conversation #7. What Are We Actually Willing to Change?

The book has the same feel as many of his most popular blog posts. It’s not a difficult read. In fact, the only difficulty is putting it down long enough to actually have the conversations! While a quick glance at the list of conversations may cause you to wonder if you could really have that conversation, it should also give you some hope that having that conversation may bring the change your congregation needs.

I also really liked the very practical nature of the content. Although these are conversations that are often reserved for off-site meetings facilitated by consultants with briefcases, they don’t have to be. I can definitely see leadership teams reading Lasting Impact and working through the conversations at their own pace.

I loved Lasting Impact and will be recommending it to many of my coaching and consulting clients. Whether you’re already familiar with Carey Nieuwhof or not, you’ll be glad you picked up a copy of this very practical and powerful book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Add The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership to the Must Read List

4 dimensionsSpent some time this week with The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, the newest book from Jenni Catron. A leader who loves putting feet to vision,” she has served on the executive leadership teams of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, CA and Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Prior to ministry leadership, she worked as Artist Development Director in the Christian music industry.

Whether you’re working to become a better leader or raise up more and better leaders, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership is a book you’re going to want to spend some time with. In fact, it really is the kind of book you’re going to want to savor. As I’ve learned to do, the first thing I did when I open was take a look at the table of contents and then give the book a quick skim, stopping here and there to get a feel for the contents. Let me tell you, I came across a couple things that told me this was a book worth a careful read over many sessions.

The point of The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership is a journey “to unpack the four areas every leader must develop in order to lead extraordinarily.” The four areas are:

  • Lead with all your heart (relational leadership)
  • Lead with all your soul (spiritual leadership)
  • Lead with all your mind (managerial leadership)
  • Lead with all your strength (visionary leadership)

After a strong introduction laying the groundwork, Part Two of the book takes the reader through the four areas in a way that is both packed with deep insights and full of valuable takeaways. My copy is very marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared as page after page revealed another memorable insight or quote.

The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership is also very practical. Every chapter concludes with a thoughtful set of questions for reflection. I can definitely see using this book as required reading for our leadership development efforts.

I am naturally a little bit of a sucker for assessments, so when I noticed the book included one I looked forward to evaluating it for use with my team. After the first couple of questions I realized this assessment was written for me!

Part Three is all about putting extraordinary into practice. It’s one thing to learn about the four dimensions. It’s another thing entirely to “consistently live the life of an extraordinary leader.” This last section takes the reader quickly through a wise set of practices that will both help you put extraordinary into practice and help your team do it as well.

If you want to become an extraordinary leader and develop extraordinary leaders, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership is an essential read. Please don’t miss it! I loved this book and I know you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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