Here are the second five of my top ten books for 2012. They are not always religious books but they are interesting and helpful. With each book I’ll enclose information provided by the publisher or followed by my comments: “Why I recommend this book.”


Remember the Future: Praying for the Church and Change by Bishop Robert Schnase. Explore together how congregations can change to become more fruitful for the purposes of Christ. Remember the Future:  Praying for the Church and Change prepares leaders of congregations and conferences for courageous new conversations with readings that draw us toward renewed vision, cultivate hope and keep us attentive to the mission of Christ. Read together as leadership teams, boards and covenant groups to understand more clearly the “why” of congregational ministry and the internal resistances and external challenges to the mission of the church.


Why I recommend this book. Our leadership group is studying “Remember the Future” now. There are 28 separate topics, each only two to three pages, followed by Scripture references and questions for further discussion. Pastors, church leaders and anyone interested in the future of the church should invest time and energy into reading and discussing how churches can change to be more fruitful congregations in ministry for Christ.


Why People Fail: The 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them by Siimon Reynolds. In the groundbreaking book Why People Fail, Siimon Reynolds, one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, explores the main causes of failure, in any field, and reveals solutions for overcoming them and creating a successful personal and professional life.

Why People Fail offers strategies and ideas for defeating the sixteen most common failure habits such as destructive thinking, low productivity, stress, fixed mindset, lack of daily rituals, and more.

  • Outlines the common habits that lead to failure and shows how to overcome them
  • Features dozens of tips and exercises to help increase business and personal success
  • Written by Siimon Reynolds, an internationally recognized expert on high performance and business excellence

Many people have changed their lives by mastering just one of the timeless principles in this book. Master five or ten and your life will rocket to a totally new level.


Why I recommend this book. This is like 16 condensed self-improvement guides in one book. Look at the chapters: Unclear Purpose, Destructive Thinking, Low Productivity, Fixed Mindset, Weak Energy, Not Asking the Right Questions, Poor Presentation Skills, Mistaking IQ for EQ and more. Each chapter is full of helpful ideas and practical suggestions. This is a book you should buy and use regularly.


Bod 4 God: The Four Keys to Weight Loss by Rev. Steve Reynolds. The media labeled Steve Reynolds “The Anti-Fat Pastor” after he lost more than 100 pounds and launched a stunningly successful weight-loss program in his church and community in Annandale, Virginia. In Bod 4 God, Pastor Steve reveals the four keys that have unlocked the door to health and fitness for him and for countless others who have dedicated their bodies to God! Steve had been overweight all of his life—he weighed over 100 pounds in the first grade! After playing football during high school and college, he vowed never to exercise or run laps again. That was one promise he kept, ballooning to 340 pounds and staying there for years. Now, in Bod 4 God, he shares the simple lifestyle changes—both inside and out—that led to his incredible weight loss, and he invites readers to change their lives forever by committing their bodies to God’s glory! In addition, Steve shows local churches how to impact the health of their entire community, by hosting “Losing to Live” events, such as weight-loss competitions and team-driven fitness campaigns.


Why I recommend this book. I too need to lose weight. There have been too many covered dish suppers in my schedule so I was eager to find a book that offered encouragement. Bod 4 God offers practical helps, Scriptural guidance and numerous testimonies of people who have succeeded. Rev. Reynolds offers four important keys: Honor God with your body. Motivate yourself for change. Manage your lifestyle habits. Build a circle of support. One of my favorite sections within each chapter is “Small Steps to Life Ideas” providing practical everyday tips to guide your weight loss. There is also a study guide and journal with each chapter. This book would be excellent for individuals, small groups or even churches.


Calico Joe by John Grisham.  Whatever happened to Calico Joe? In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen.  The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records. Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever… In John Grisham’s new novel the baseball is thrilling, but it’s what happens off the field that makes CALICO JOE a classic.


Why I recommend this book. This is more than a great Baseball story. “Calico Joe” is about cruelty and redemption when a promising career is suddenly cut short: a story of abuse between a father and son. Most of all, “Calico Joe” is a story about life, hard knocks and what it means to truly forgive.


A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope by Peter L. Steinke. “We resist change less when we associate it with mission and fortify it with hope. So argues longtime congregational consultant Peter Steinke in his fourth book, A Door Set Open, as he explores the relationship between the challenges of change and our own responses to new ideas and experiences. ” The key, Steinke says, is not the number or strength of the stressors in the system—anxiety, poor conditions, deteriorating values—but the response of the individual or organization to “what is there.” Drawing on his experience working with more than two hundred congregations, Steinke makes the case that the church has entered an era of great opportunity. Theologian and sociologist Ernst Troeltsch said the church had closed down the office of eschatology. Steinke reopens it and draws our attention to God’s future, to a vision of hope for the people of God. The door is set open for exploration and new creation.


Why I recommend this book. At a workshop led by the author, a woman stood up and said, “If 1950 were to return, my congregation would be ready.” The world of 1950 has dramatically changed but has the church changed with it? Peter Steinke seeks to offer guidance in the midst of change. Three observations: Resistance to change is far less intense when change is made for the sake of mission. People are motivated by pain that leads to a theology of hope. The third observation is seeing how emotional processes are understood and handled plays a major role in outcomes. This is not a particularly easy book to read but it is an excellent guide for any leaders looking to lead their church through a process of change.