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Tag Archives | book review

Book Review: The Principle of the Path

The_Principle_of_the_Path__87586_zoomAndy Stanley has done a remarkable job with his book The Principle of the Path. Remarkable, because the book not only contains a wisdom that rings true on every page, but as the same time is very readable and even laugh out funny at times. Plus, Andy Stanly only uses the amount of words he needs to get his point across, making it a quick read – though applying it may cost way more time.

The key message of the book is this:

Direction – not intentions, hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, intellect, or education – determines our destination.

To quote:

“The direction you are currently traveling – relationally, financially, spiritually, and the list goes on and on- will determine where you end up in each of those respective arenas.”

In the rest of the book, Andy Stanley explores the disconnection we have between our intentions and our actual direction and how we can change this. Because let’s face it, most of us don’t analyze the destinations associated with the paths we have chosen (or the alternative paths we could take), we often take the path of the least resistance, the path that ‘feels good’.

A key verse he uses to unpack this is Proverbs 27:12:

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

As he points out, the difference between the prudent and the simple isn’t what happens to them, what they see. It’s how they respond.

I could write much more about the wisdom in this book, but I’d really encourage you to read it yourself. Like I said, it’s a quick and easy read and Andy is a great storyteller. But don’t let the light tone fool you: this book contains wisdom that will help you make better choices.

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Book Review: Youth Ministry is Easy

Cover FinalAaron Shaver is not a ‘big name’ in youth ministry, I’d never heard of him before he contacted me to see if I wanted to review his book. To be honest, I love reading books from ‘normal’ youth pastors, those anonymous loyal guys and gals that just serve week in, week out. They often offer real nuggets of wisdom and truth from the trenches. Aaron Shaver is one of those guys and he has written a short book about what he has learned called Youth Ministry is Easy…and nine other lies.

The content wasn’t new to me, or shocking in any way. But then again I’m not the primary targeted audience. This book is meant for starting youth pastors and youth workers, as it tackles some lessons the veterans amongst us have (hopefully) learned. It talks about issues like dealing with the teens’ parents, taking care of your own spiritual health, not going solo, and whether youth pastor is a ‘real job’ or not.

Like I said, for me nothing new. But that doesn’t mean Aaron’s message isn’t important. He tackles some well known misconceptions amongst new youth pastors and shares his own lessons along the way. That makes the book a useful gift to any junior youth pastor. There is certainly some stuff in there I wish I had learned sooner and not the hard way when I finally did learn.

Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of some of the editing and layout (I read the printed paperback version) of ‘Youth Ministry is easy’. Nothing big, but I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to things like that, so I notice. It doesn’t distract from the message though and that’s one worth reading.

p.s. I do a lot of book reviews on youth ministry books, check them out for valuable tips on great youth ministry books!

p.s.p.s. In a previous version, I wrote that Youth Ministry is Easy was self published. It’s not, it was published by WordsCrafts, a small independent publisher. Oops, my bad!

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Book Review: Chivalry


Years ago at the Student Leadership Conference, I met a teenage boy by the name of Zach Hunter. He was on tour promoting his Loose Change for Loose Chains campaign at the same time he was a spokesperson for the movie Amazing Grace. At 16, he was articulate and passionate about injustice.

When I saw his new book Chivalry, I was a bit taken back by the title until I read the subtitle which states, “The quest for a personal code of honor in an unjust world.”  This book isn’t just for guys and it is made really clear in the opening pages of the book. From the very beginning Zach invites students into a bigger conversation about what it means to be people who love and people who choose honor, mercy and selflessness instead of the world’s ways.

This book would be great in the hands of any high school student. Zach is able as a young person to identify with the struggles and desires of teens. While he is relatable, he is also challenging students to a different level of growth. Each chapter is a commitment to a code of chivalry. These range from commitments to community to the commitment to practice self-control and selflessness. Each chapter is filled with passages from God’s word that reinforce the code.

Another bonus, is that he points to students to other voices of faith. He quotes from C.S. Lewis, Cornel West, Annie Dillard, John M. Perkins…the list goes on. I love students being exposed to such a wide range of Christians.

I am planning on giving my copy to a student this week! Check it out here.

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Book Review: The Tangible Kingdom

I just spent the last week in Palm Springs. It was amazing and refreshing. One of my favorite things that I get to do on trips like this is golf, sit by the pool, take a nap (remember those?) and my favorite…READ. It was a personal goal of mine to read two books during the 7 days I was here, and I did it. It feels awesome.

One of the books is called “The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community” by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay (you can find the book on Amazon HERE).

This book was challenging for me based on the churches I have grown up in and the church I work at now. It is challenging in the fact that they are writing from a church in which is focused on only the “serious people” stay at the church and they have a “talk” with the not so serious and they suggest that the church is not for them. I know, it rubs me the wrong way at first but understanding their context is important. They do not focus on programs or really cater to the “seeker”, but they simply follow the way Jesus did ministry, and that is to be apart, among, and with the people in the community.

“Their goal isn’t to attract people to worship services, but to BE the faithful church in small pockets throughout their city. They meet in coffee shops, homes, anywhere in public, and when people would ask what they were doing, they simply would invite them to join and “Come and see”, like Jesus said to His disciples. They challenge churches and leaders to take a leap from their safe environments of their buildings and truly enter the real world- God’s reality.”

I like it. Even though I do not agree with everything, I feel that I am able to take many things from what they were saying and apply it into our ministry at Saddleback HSM. Some things they suggested that I want to apply that I got from reading this book. These are just some examples of the incarnational ministry they talk about in the book:

  • Don’t just live in my apartment community, but REALLY live in the community. Get to know neighbors, staff, etc and just be a real person and have genuine relationships with people. Know about their lives.
  • Instead of being in the office all of the day, spend part of the day at your second office in public. For me, that would be Starbucks. Usually the same people are there at the same times always. And conversations usually happen when you see the same people, the same staff.
  • Have meetings with volunteers or students at Starbucks instead of the offices.
  • Instead of having our Bible study at the church, do it at a coffee shop or shopping center plaza. Get in the community and start the natural conversations that will happen.

These are just  a few things I can personally do in my ministry. Even though I sort of do this already, it is more about being intentional while doing it. This I will do and pray for the future relationships that can come out of it.

I really recommend this book if you are a leader of any sort of ministry or in any church context. It is a great reminder of how we can get caught up in ministry and loose the relationship aspect of the people who come looking for the only thing Jesus can give them.


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Creating special moments: An hour on Sunday

In this new, five-part series we’re focusing on creating special moments in a youth service. I believe every youth service has to have a ‘special moment’, a moment in which students have a personal encounter with God. It can be through a song, a piece of drama, a video or something you do together, but whatever it is, its purpose is to bring students closer to God.

I want to kick off this series with a book review of An hour on Sunday, written by Nancy Beach, because this book made me realize the power of a special moment. Nancy Beach was the Arts Leader and a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church and it still on Willow’s Executive Team. That may lead you to think that this book is only for those in a big church, those inside the ‘Willow Creek movement’ or those with a ‘community’ type of church. Wrong. No matter how big your church or your youth group is, no matter what denomination you’re in, this book is for you. Continue Reading →

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