Reading List for Christmas, 2013

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Every year I create a list of books I think you should read.  Sometimes the books I include are very purely about small group ministry, discipleship or spiritual formation.  Other times, the books I include may seem pretty far afield (innovation, design, leadership, or strategy).  You’ll just have to trust me.  I wouldn’t include a book I didn’t think would be added to your toolbox and contribute in a trajectory-altering way.

That said…here is this my 2013 Christmas Reading List:

innovations dirty little secretInnovation’s Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne

Very readable, this is my kind of book.  Packed with insights from the lead pastor of one of the most innovative churches in America, your copy will no doubt be as marked up, highlighted, and full of notes as mine.  If I could’ve figured out how to easily tweet more of the great lines, I would’ve been marked a spammer for sure!

Extremely practical, I found myself firing off emails to team members on my own staff with discussions we need to have and issues we need to tackle.  I loved the way just about every chapter could be the source for a great staff discussion.  With the right plan, any team could come away with plenty of actionable takeaways.

I don’t think I can write a strong enough recommendation for Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret.  What I can do is tell you that if you’re not reading this book, and actually if your team isn’t reading this book, you only have yourself to blame!  This is a great handbook for innovation and change.  I highly, highly recommend it!

You can read my review right here.


STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships by Mindy Caliguire

STIR takes what I’d call a very fresh approach to spiritual formation and comes at this topic in a way that should catch the attention of small group ministry champions.  I cracked open the book because I’ve found Mindy’s earlier contributions very helpful.  I caught myself about 25 pages in thinking, “Wait…what? and started over from the introduction!  Too good.  Packed with very helpful ideas!

Drawing from the findings of Willow Creek’s Reveal study, STIR employs a framework based on the three “believer” stages in the research; the “primary shifts that mark the transition from one stage to another.”  Taking a cue from Reveal, STIR refers to these three stages as learning together, journeying together, and following together.

You can read my review right here.

innovating discipleshipInnovating Discipleship by Will Mancini

A slim book, Innovating Discipleship is just 85 pages (when you include the appendix).  At the same time, any one of several killer concepts is worth way more than the price of this book.  If you read with an eye for game-changing insight…you’ll have no trouble uncovering a set of new questions and new insights that will spur new conversations for a long time.

In the opening pages of the book, Mancini unveils an intriguing formula: 1 + 2 + 4 + 16.  Here’s what it means: one whiteboard drawing defined by two vision decisions reals fourpaths to the future that provide sixteen super questions for limitless ministry innovation.  He has a passion for tool-making.  Innovating Discipleship is a great tool!

You can read my review right here.

influencerInfluencer by Joseph Grenny

I don’t know if you caught Joseph Grenny’s session at Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit…but his book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change ought to move straight to the top of your reading list.

Like me, you probably have a non-stop desire to figure out even better ways to influence people to get connected, to step into leadership, to become a disciple and to disciple others.  What if the learnings of this team of social scientists could help me do that?

Influencer consists of two parts.  The first part of the book focuses on the three keys that all successful influencers adhere to and that we can use for our benefit.  The second part of the book focuses on the six sources of influence.  Packed with real life examples and full of very practical application, Influencer is both an easy read and a book that is going to end up having a huge impact on the design of our strategies.

You can read my review right here.

creative confidenceCreative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley

Working my way through a great new book by Tom and David Kelley.  Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All is the latest from Tom Kelley (partner at IDEO and author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation) and David Kelley (founder of IDEO)…and it is packed with a ton of great takeaways!

Like Tom Kelley’s previous work, Creative Confidence is really a string of very compelling stories that illustrate his points and enough killer ideas to leave my copy pretty marked up, highlighted and starred.  There is some crossover between Ten Faces and Creative Confidence, but I think that’s to be expected in a book that references some of the innovative techniques and practices found in the earlier book.  Rather than finding it repetitive, I found it reinforcing and eye-opening.

You can pick up your copy right here.

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 may 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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  1. Rose Jones on December 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Thanks Mark, your reading list suggestions always add value and broaden my ministry horizons.

  2. markchowell on December 30, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Thanks Rose! Glad you find the list helpful!