I received many excellent comments on the first five of ten books, I recommended. Some of you suggested your own favorite books and I added them to my list. I hope you like the next five books just as well. They are not all religious but I hope you will find them all interesting.
One fascinating little tidbit: Eight of the ten books on this list were purchased and read on my Kindle, an electronic reading device. Times have changed.
With each book I’ll enclose information gathered from the cover or various reviews followed by my comments: “Why I recommend this book.”
“Sticky Church” by Larry Osborne. Author and pastor Larry Osborne makes the case that closing the back door of your church is even more important than opening the front door wider. He offers a time-tested strategy for doing so: sermon-based small groups that dig deeper into the weekend message and tightly velcro members to the ministry. It’s a strategy that enabled Osborn’s congregation to grow from a handful of people to one of the larger churches in the nation without any marketing or special programming. Sticky Church tells the inspiring story of North Coast Church’s phenomenal growth and offers practical tips for launching your own sermon-based small group ministry. Topics include: Why stickiness is so important Why most of our discipleship models don’t work very well. Why small groups always make a church more honest and transparent. What makes groups grow deeper and stickier over time. “Sticky Church” is an ideal book for church leaders who want to start or retool their small group ministry and velcro their congregation to the Bible and each other.
Why I recommend this book. As a pastor, I’ve helplessly watched interested visitors come in through our front doors only to disappear several weeks later. “Sticky Church” contains practical, easy to apply ideas that work for any size congregation.
“The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits” by Richard A. Swenson, MD. Do you dread going to work? Are your relationships strained from stress? Do you wish you could check into a hospital just to get some sleep? Busyness. Stress. Overload. Anyone living in today’s society knows the struggle of trying to handle the demands of life. You don’t have enough time to do the things you have to do – let alone those things you would like to do. You feel tired, worn out, and burned out. You’re not alone. These symptoms are not a figment of your imagination. They’re signs that you’re suffering from a virulent new disease that affects millions of people – The Overload Syndrome.
Why I recommend this book. First, this is not a new book and it’s only one book in a series but these ideas are timeless. If you are facing stress at work and home, “The Overload Syndrome” can change your life. Richard Swenson is a physician and a pastor who has a unique ability to combine spirituality with sound medical advice.
“Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community” by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. Across North America, many pastors are excited to see churches growing as they achieve their mission to connect the message of the gospel with the community at large. Still others are equally frustrated, following the exact same model for outreach but with lesser results. Indeed, just because a “missional breakthrough” occurs in one place doesn’t mean it will happen the same way elsewhere. One size does not fit all, but there are cultural codes that must be broken for all churches to grow and remain effective in their specific mission context. Breaking the Missional Code provides expert insight on church culture and church vision casting, plus case studies of successful missional churches impacting their communities. “We have to recognize there are cultural barriers (in addition to spiritual ones) that blind people from understanding the gospel,” the authors write. “Our task is to find the right way to break through those cultural barriers without removing the spiritual and theological ones.”
“Why I recommend this book.” Many of our churches have lost contact with the neighborhoods surrounding them. “Breaking the Missional Code offers answers that can be applied in almost any church setting.
“Real Church: Does it Exist? Can I find it?” By Dr. Larry Crabb. “Church as I know it usually leaves deep parts of me dormant, unawakened, and untouched. I don’t much like going. So, what now?”What’s happening to the Church? Why are so many people who for decades have been faithful, steady churchgoers (and others who want to start going to church but can’t seem to find one that meets their needs) losing interest in even attending church, let alone getting involved? What is fundamentally wrong with the “types” of churches (Seeker, Bible, Emergent, Liberal, Evangelical) that dot the religious landscape? Larry Crabb believes it is time to rethink the entire foundation and focus of what we know today as church — everything we’re doing and are wanting to see happen. In his most honest and vulnerable book to date, the author reveals his own struggles in this area and then offers a compelling vision of why God designed us to live in community with Him and others, and what the church he wants to be a part of looks like.
“Why I recommend this book.” This book was hard for me to read; like taking medicine that tastes awful but you must take it just the same. Larry Crabb bluntly challenges churches everywhere to rethink the way they do church.
“Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics. Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What’s more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it’s so ineffective? SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as: How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa? Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands? How much good do car seats do? What’s the best way to catch a terrorist? Did TV cause a rise in crime? What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common? Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness? Can eating kangaroo save the planet? Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor? Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.
“Why I recommend this book.” I almost did not recommend this book because it has nothing to do with religion and at times seems – well, strange. Yet, “Super Freakonomics” forces you to look at many of our problems in a different way. After reading this book, you will see people and the world we live from a different perspective.
Well here are my 10 for now but I’m looking to add ten more very soon. Comments are welcome.