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Chris Horst & Andy Crouch. Mission Drift. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2014.Peter Greer said this about Mission Drift: “This is an essential book every faith-based leader must read to solve the unspoken problem of leaving the core mission of your organization.”Having read the book in its entirety I came away with the determination that I would not allow myself personally to drift away from my own personal Core Values or from the Core Values of the Church God has allowed me to pastor.This book is an easy read, but is very thought provoking to say the least. You will find yourself (as I did) meditating often on what you have read and taking many notes that will be useful later on. I have already preached a couple of messages to guide and encourage our Church to stay on track with our Core Values.
The authors do a great job leading you along as you explore not only Faith Based Organizations but Secular Organizations that have left their Core Values and have gone bankrupt. A case in point is the story of Veggie Tales. They were a multi-million company next to animations of Disney. In fact they were often referred to as the “Christian Disney.” As I read the account of this great company it broke my heart but it also brought conviction as to how close any organization can come to losing its effectiveness, and even one made up of believers, slowly drift away from their Core Values.
The authors do not leave you in despair, but are very encouraging. Any organization can get back on track and they walk you through the steps to do so. This was very exciting to me because they give you a list of Faith Based Organizations and Secular Organizations that came back from the brink of disaster to become a Ministry that’s on the cutting edge. One case in point is Samaritans Purse. The authors document how Franklin Graham had to cut his staff to a staff of one in order to bring back this great Ministry. It is now a worldwide, cutting edge ministry and it is touching the lives of literally millions.
I encourage you to get the book. Download it and enjoy. You will not put it down. Trust me!
Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Leadership. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.Dangerous Calling is written by Paul Tripp, Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care. Dr. Tripp has served both as a pastor and seminary professor. It was in the convergence of these two roles Dr. Tripp noticed a “disconnect between the public persona of ministry and [the] private lives” of many serving or being trained for church service. The author’s intent is very simple. He wrote a “diagnostic book . . . to help [the reader] take an honest look at [him]self in the heart- and life-exposing mirror of the Word of God-to see things that are wrong and need correcting and to help [him] place [him]self once again under the healing and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Though Dr. Tripp refers to the book as “diagnostic,” it is far from dry, uninteresting and irrelevant. It’s pages do include case studies (life stories – the names are changed of course) and reviews of the issues which afflict people and their families in ministry. But, these accounts serve as vehicles of identification. For the stories the reader encounters are their journeys, or could easily be. Dr. Tripp successfully connects the issues common to those who love God and sense His call to care for His bride. In the process the author reminds the reader that, even though we mediate the Gospel, we NEVER cease to be in need of its wondrous work.
To accomplish his goal, the book, an easy read at 240 pages, is divided into three parts (he knows his audience). The first section focuses on an examination of the pastoral culture. This is the largest section of the book. Why? Because it is the expectations and parameters of pastoral ministry that create many of the issues ministry leaders and their families are caught up in. Based on his observations and interactions, the author believes the shape and expression of modern pastoral ministry is both spiritually unhealthy and disconnected from God’s intention for His undershepherds. Some of the ramifications of this that Dr. Tripp explores are: the way ministers are trained, what churches expect of pastors and their families and the conditions under which those who serve fulfill their God mandated call in a local community of faith.
The second section is “The Danger of Losing Your Awe (Forgetting Who God Is).” Those who handle things holy on a regular basis are prone to loosing a sense of wonder at the majesty and greatness of God. When this happens, the servant losses his excitement and is “left with a duty to do the business of ministry in repetitive, day-after-day, joyless obligation.” As many of us have personally discovered, we become so busy with the work of the Lord, we forget about the Lord of the work. This portion the book seeks to call those who serve as pastors back to their first love. It challenges the reader to examine his heart. The chapters also provide useful steps in reacquiring God’s grandeur through a personal encounter with Him.
On the heals of forgetting who God is, the last section warns of the danger of “Forgetting Who You Are.” This addresses the propensity ministry servants have for thinking they have arrived and are no longer one who desperately needs the daily experience of God’s grace. The chapter is a helpful tool for the reader to humble and submit himself to God. Accompanying the helpful suggestions for self-examination, the last section of the book includes some guidance for moving forward and reacquiring a vital daily experience of God’s presence while being in the midst of serving others.
I have personally found this book to be enlightening, challenging and helpful in serving God as one who continues to be in need of service from God. Its value is such that I have recommended to and provided it for individuals so they may avoid the entrapment of serving God without a regular encounter with Him. Dangerous Calling truly is one of those books that anyone contemplating or serving in ministry must read.
Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Healthy Leader. Grand Rapids: Zonervan, 2015.Scazzero has written a very practical book about recognizing and addressing the emotional deficiencies which negatively impact the leadership of pastors and other Christian workers. Early in the book, he documents his own journey through “emotionally unhealthy leadership” during his tenure as senior pastor of the New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York. His challenges included enduring a church split, dealing with difficult people and finding ways to manage his hurt and anger – at one time confessing that he could be described as “the cursing pastor.” He recounts “hitting rock bottom” on the day his wife declared she was “quitting the church.”Scazzero details four personal “conversions,” which led him to declare that there is a link between emotional health and spiritual maturity. Those conversions are described as:
He recounts very frankly that these conversions were not easy. In fact, they were often painful to him personally and at times, harmful to others.
The balance of the book invites the reader to consider four chapters each, on both the inner and outer life. The inner life chapters challenge the reader to face one’s shadow, lead out of one’s marriage or singleness, slow down for what he calls “loving union,” and practicing Sabbath delight. He speaks of the need to consider having a “daily office,” through which one can practice the “sacred rhythm” of work and rest.
The chapters on the outer life focus on planning and decision making, culture and team building, power and wise boundaries, as well as endings and new beginnings.
Each chapter contains a number of reflective questions by which the reader can determine (using a five point scale) how well he or she is managing emotional health and developing spiritual maturity.
Appendices at the end of the book are there for the reader to identify characteristics of churches transformed by emotionally health leadership, determine how well the work/rest cycle is happening in the congregation, and how to develop a multigenerational emotional map.
Scazzero writes in a style that is relatively easy to read, and the sharing of his personal journey helps his words connect to the reader, especially if the reader is in local church ministry. However, there are times where the reader could get bogged down in some detail. Overall, though, the reflective questions and other exercises seemed very practical. It was worth the under $10 e-book price.
His other works include: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40 Day Journey with the Daily Office.