Showing posts from May, 2010

Switch: Change Never Sleeps, Not Unlike the Heath Brothers

Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath; Broadway, 2010

Chip & Dan Heath are brothers---brothers in business.

They are the bestselling authors of Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.  They are also regular columnists for Fast Company Magazine.

And they are brothers.  I wonder if my sons would go into business together and write bestselling books, and blog about stuff that millions of people read, and will keep their old man rolling in the green long after he quits earning.

I doubt it.

Switch is the newest offering by the Heath Brothers in their quest toward a more innovative, relevant and nimble business "model."  It's also an awesome read and full of straight up wisdom.  Switch sets up the analogy of a Rider that is trying to direct an Elephant down a Path toward change--an analogy that is carried throughout the book and into the prescriptive guidelines that the Heath brothers tout as vital for any leader navigating …

The Dude Abides: A Duderific Review of Cathleleen Falsani's Latest

The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers by Cathleen Falsani; Zondervan, 2010

Cathleen Falsani is easily one of my favorite writers who also happens to be a Christian.  I rather like describing her that way because it's hard to fit her into the typical "Christian" writer mold.  I also rather like that Zondervan publishes her work, which ensures that it at least gets marketed to a "Christian" audience that quite frankly needs to hear what she has to say.

Falsani is an award-winning religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, and a graduate of the slightly conservative, evangelical, private Wheaton College in Illinois.  She's also the author of a fantastic book of essays on grace, faith, God and everything entitled Sin Boldly.  

She's also a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, which endears me to her even more.  The Coen Brothers are the writer/director duo that have been responsible for such Oscar winning movies as Fargo, O Brother Where A…

Holy Spirit Double Shot POWER!

This Sunday is Pentecost.

I'm excited because I get to wear my red stole at the traditional worship service at my church.

There's some rule somewhere that states I should only wear a red stole on Pentecost or when an elder or another pastor is getting ordained.

Who makes these rules, anyway?

Some of you might be asking, "Yeah, and what the heck is a stole?"

This... is my red stole.
And my smoking hot wife.

She's pregnant now so she looks a little different, but she's still smoking hot.  Yes, I am married to one smoking hot pregnant woman.

That I knocked up.

And my stole looks pretty flippin' sweet, too.

I just made a decision.  I don't care what dried up old prune of a person made up the rule that I can only wear my red stole on certain Sundays of the month.  They had to be a Presbyterian, because Presbyterians don't really talk about the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD on any other days of the year.

Unless they are praying one of their long elaborate, eloquen…

ReWork - 37Signals Hammers It Home

Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson; Crown Business, 2010

I love reading business and marketing books--at least ones that are pithy and make sense.  I can't explain why, exactly.  I guess I am always looking for ways to become a better leader and visionary.  Maybe I just enjoy marketing and business books.  Here's the thing...  Sometimes I read business-oriented books that are difficult to grasp, and full of so much data (business people seem to dig data) that I find myself growing old just holding the dang book.  Who cares if your data suggests that 67% of all CEO's in America didn't attend an Ivy League school?  Who cares if you data suggests that the 5 key components of a successful marketing campaign all begin with the word "R?"  You are boring me.

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are the founders of 37Signals, a company that provides web-based business tools that are easy to use and inexpensive to boot.  Rework is their business m…

Deep Church - Taking A Hard Look At Jim Belcher's "Third Way"

Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging & Traditional by Jim Belcher; IVP Press, 2009

Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA.  Redeemer, for all that it might purport to be, is a Presbyterian Church in the orthodox, conservative, evangelical and Reformed Presbyterian Church in America denomination.  This is a denomination that espouses, among other things,  two very conservative, "traditional" beliefs of the "Religious Right"in the US:  the inerrancy of Scripture and the subjugation of women in the church to non-leadership roles. 

Despite this pedigree that should posit Belcher firmly in the "Traditional Church," he tells a compelling story of his journey through doubt and questions of faith that brought him alongside many of the early leaders of the more progressive and non-orthodox "Emerging Church."  He name drops a bit, and talks about cigar-smoking and theologizin…

Spiritual Weaklings Unite!

O Me of Little Faith:  True Confessions of A Spiritual Weakling by Jason Boyett, Zondervan 2010

Jason Boyett's latest book is one of those books that you shouldn't judge by it's cover.  Granted, the cover art is awesome.  But by looking at it, you might have some preconceived notions.  For example, you might be thinking, "This probably is one of those quasi-sarcastic, David Sedaris-esque, Donald Miller-ish books of essays written by a snarky but sweet Christian author, who struggles with faith and finds it in the most unexpected places."

Okay, you wouldn't be far off---and neither was I, because that's what I thought when I first ordered the book.  I happen to like snarky but sweet, and I struggle with my faith, too.  So those kinds of books do it for me.

Boyett is a blogger and author who now has hit the blogging big time by being featured on Beliefnet with other Christian "luminaries" like Diana Butler Bass, Scott McKnight and Tony Jones.  He …

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality - A Review

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:  Unleash A Revolution In Your Life in Christ by Peter Scazzero, Thomas Nelson 2006

A couple of years ago, I read Peter Scazzero's book, "The Emotionally Healthy Church" right before I became the pastor of the church I currently serve.  It was a timely read, to be sure.  Scazzero is the pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NY.  New Life is a large multiracial, international, evangelical congregation.  In "Emotionally Healthy Church," Scazzero relates how both he and his church began exhibiting signs of poor emotional health.  He had become a workaholic, busy doing the things of God and not paying enough attention to simply being with God.  His church in turn had become a dysfunctional family of faith, focused on the wrong things and struggling to be the church together. 

In "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality," Scazzero relates his own personal journey toward spiritual health as the hard lessons he learned as …

Free to Truly Live.

Christianity has a problem.

I know what you're thinking, "Just one?"

Well... you might have something there, but at any rate I think Christianity has a serious problem that is at the foundation of all the other problems it seems to encounter.

In my humble opinion. 

You see, so many Christians seem to have all of the right ingredients that it takes to be a "good" Christian.  You know... Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, volunteerism... that kind of stuff.

But there seems to be something missing.

I think far too many of us who call ourselves Christians are not living lives that are all that compelling.  There aren't that many people knocking down our doors trying to find out what makes us tick, and begging us to tell them what makes us so special.   In fact, the opposite seems to be happening.  People are turning away from Christianity--believing it to be irrelevant, shallow, too exclusive and pretty much unnecessary.

And I think the reason they do …

Drive '10 Conference Day 3 - Thoughts

I was unable to reflect on Day 3 of the Drive Leadership Conference at Northpoint Church because I left immediately afterward and drove 7 hours straight home. 

When I left to attend the conference on Monday I left all of my toiletries and medications (I say medications like an old man) on the bathroom counter.  So I was feeling pretty rotten by the time I got home.

But I've had some time to think about the last day of the conference and so I thought I would share them--in no real order:

I attended two workshops before the last Main Session:  A workshop for Senior Pastors and a workshop on Connecting Adults to Small Groups.  The Senior pastor workshop was basically a Q&A Session with Northpoint's lead pastor Andy Stanley, his wife and his executive assistant.  For the record, my wife is a lot hotter than his.  And my wife also said I was a lot cuter than Andy.  So at least I have that.  I was envious of his assistant, though.  He's living the life I want to live in that…

Drive Conference '10 Day 2 Thoughts

So at the end of Day 2 of the Drive Conference at Northpoint Community Church I have a few thoughts.

First, the people at Northpoint are freakishly nice.  And I mean more than most people.  I don't think I have ever experienced a group of church volunteers and staff that were more committed to hospitality.  At some point someone went and bought THOUSANDS of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and the Northpoint pastors and staff donned Krispy Kreme paper hats and walked around giving them away.  Whenever I asked for directions to a room or to a building the volunteer or staffer would actually walk me to it.  It was pretty dang sweet. 

Second, it's apparent to me that the culture at Northpoint-- a culture of hospitality and openness as well as a commitment to the overall vision of the church--is one that flows from the leadership to staff and then to everyone else.  I've been a pretty harsh critic of mega churches in the past.  I have been an even harsher critic of multi-site mega churc…

Drive '10 Conference - Day One Reflections

Okay.  I have to admit. I have a little bit of church envy. 
After hanging out in the expansive confines of Northpoint Community Church in suburban Atlanta, I came to the realization that it really would be nice to have a children's ministry area in my church that looks like a city street complete with mock storefronts for each class room, a theater and a cafe.  Did I mention that was the JUST THE CHILDREN'S MINISTRY AREA? I did.  Okay. 
I am attending the Drive Conference at Northpoint.  This is the annual "download"session that the Northpoint leadership staff hosts for church leaders.  The tagline for Drive is "because we're not there yet."  In other words, you keep driving... because you're not quite at your destination... there yet.  Anyway.   It's a "download" session because the Northpoint leadership basically downloads to all the rest of us the stuff that they have been learning about doing and being church.  Northpoint has over 2…

Stuff Leon Likes: #234 A Book By Jon Acuff

Jonathan Acuff has proven that imitation is the highest form of getting published.  Acuff, a Christian blogger and marketer launched the blog "Stuff Christians Like" a couple of years ago, shamelessly using a formula created by Christian Lander who launched a blog entitled "Stuff White People Like."

Lander soon published a book after his blog took off and became the place to go on the old Internet. 

Jonathan Acuff got the same chance once his blog took off in the Christian version of the old Internet, which is essentially the same Internet, only less so. 

Stuff Christians Like is pretty dang funny.  In fact, I laughed out loud as I read it... a lot.  And as my wife is fond of pointing out--it takes a lot to make me laugh.  I especially like humor that makes fun of Christians.  You'd think that being a Christian would sort of temper my desire to poke fun at them.  It doesn't.  We take ourselves way too seriously.  Acuff's book takes a fairly sharp pointed…

Free To Worship

When we say that we "worship" God, what does it mean, really?

There's a Sunday school answer that most of us would probably put forth...

"To show awe and reverence... or something."

Some of us who have been around the church-y mulberry bush a few times would say,

"Worship is a lifestyle, man.  It's what you do 7 days a week... or something." 

Funny.  Even though most of us who call ourselves Christians will say that worship is about God and not us, and that it takes place wherever we happen to be...  we don't really believe that.

At least we don't show we believe it because we end up filling our favorite pew or padded chair every Sunday (or Saturday night... or something) intent on worshiping and getting our Jesus-shine on so we can keep our salvation for another week. 

Listen, I am not hating on gathering for worship. What I do for a living sort of depends upon people gathering together for worship.  I think what I struggle with has mo…

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

Sleep: It does a Family Good - How Busy Families Can Overcome Sleep Deprivation by Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Okay, I'll admit, I don't get enough sleep.  Let's just get that out of the way first.  That was half of the reason why I wanted to read this book by Dr. Hart, founder of the Hart Institute and contributor to various and sundry Focus on the Family publications.  The other half was divided between my curiosity and the fact that I suspect my teenage son is not getting enough sleep either.  After all was said and done, I discovered more than enough to not only affirm my notions about my own lack of sleep, but also to satisfy my curiosity and develop a plan to help my entire family get some much needed rest.  Hart is a therapist, who has done a great deal of study on sleep disorders.  It's interesting that most of what Hart writes in Sleep is pretty intuitive, but quite honestly not things that we would really admit to ourselves.  It turns out that sleep is connected to…