Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: Balanced Christianity

Balanced Christianity Balanced Christianity by John R.W. Stott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't really read anything of Stott's but I have heard him speak (on DVD) and have heard many other people talk about how impactful his writings are, so I figured when I saw this little book in the clearance section of the bookstore last December for a pretty low price, I figured what the heck (It also helps that Scot McKnight wrote something for the book on the back... I like McKnight so when he recommends something, I try to at it my list of things to check out). All in all, this book is pretty good. I really like and appreciate how Stott sought to take the seeming division in Christianity today between people who find themselves on one side of the issue and others on the other, and find the pros and cons from both sides and find a way to merge the two, finding a balance of faith to live out, and not be guilty of falling to the extreme of one of the sides. This is a very short book, and frankly it shouldn't have taken me as long as it did to finish reading (I took breaks, had another kid, worked, and my life just overall contributed to my lack of devotion to this book, haha). I have a feeling that if he were still alive today and I had the opportunity to meet him, we would have gotten along. I really appreciated his willingness to listen to both sides of the issue (even with the side he didn't agree with), and find a common ground on which to move forward. His devotion to a movement toward unity for Christians, regardless of denominational preference, is VERY appealing to me and truly speaks to my heart. Overall, this isn't the BEST book I've ever written, BUT it is worth reading nonetheless. It's short so it wouldn't take you much time at all. The recorded interview in the back of the book is interesting and most of it is worth the read as well.

View all my reviews

Review: Sending Church Stories of Momentum and Multiplication

Sending Church Stories of Momentum and Multiplication Sending Church Stories of Momentum and Multiplication by Dan Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit up front that I am probably a little bias since I worked with Dan and company up at Momentum (around the same time that some of the stories he shares in his book occurred). At the same time, however, I feel that my experiences have given me a different type of insight and view on this book (since I DO know what and who he's talking about). First off, I have to say that the insight that Dan provides from his experiences at Momentum and in the Cleveland area have been invaluable to much what how I do ministry. That being said, I'm confident in saying that there are many people who would NOT like what Dan has to say about ministry, in particularly church plants and congregations in general (I would probably add that the MAIN reason for this is the fact that he's unorthodox, recognizes that it's NOT an 'us vs. them' "industry" and therefore seeks to collaborate with other congregations to maximize the Kingdom impact that Momentum does). This is probably the BIGGEST reason I'm attracted to much of what Dan writes in 'Sending Church' and to his philosophy of ministry (unity, even across denominational lines is a core value of mine).

Much of what Dan lays out in his book calls out the current approach to 'church' expansion by many established congregations today. Citing research that reveals that the majority of church congregations today are only effective (or at least are MOST effective) during the first 30 years in existence, Dan calls on churches to consider adopting a 'sunset clause'. Not necessarily saying that the congregation should shut its doors after a set number of years, but he argues that if church congregations today thought this way, their decisions would be surrounded with much more urgency and careful consideration as to its effectiveness for the Kingdom. Additionally Dan touches on something that I think is excruciatingly difficult for many church leaders today, when he calls for congregations today to be a holistic 'sending church', willing to not only send money, but also 'its own' people. If we are called to be Kingdom-minded (seek His Kingdom first above all else and just let everything else fall into place), and we take that seriously, we have to be willing (and even encouraging) to challenge people to ask if God wants them to step out in their faith and move to this new Kingdom-endeavor.

I'm not going to divulge the entire book here (it's a short book anyway so go read it!), but I will say that even if you don't agree with what Dan writes here 100% of the time, this book will encourage you and excite you for Kingdom-expansion/multiplication and church planting. Get this book. Read it. Argue with it. Read it again. Find ways to let the stories of what God is doing in one of the most depressed cities in America spur you to action in making your life more Kingdom-focused.

View all my reviews