March Reading Log

Here’s a run down of the 5 books I read in March.  The main topic of focus was leadership.  I’m in the middle of a few HUGE books – including a biography on Woodrow Wilson that’s over 700 pages.  I’ll finish them next month.  Happy reading!

All the President’s Men: The Greatest Reporting Story of All Time by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

President's MenThis is a book I that I’ve always wanted to read but never got around to it.  I can now scratch it off the list.  Actually I don’t scratch things off my to-do list.  I check them off my list.  Consider this book checked.

This book has a small, but varied, target audience.  You might like it if you’re into journalism.  You might like it if you’re into presidential history.  You might like it if you’re into Richard Nixon.  You might like it if you’re into moral issues.  If that’s not you – you’ll probably want to look elsewhere for reading material.

This book is the firsthand account of two Washington Post reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Watergate scandal that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.  It is detailed.  Extremely detailed.  Yet, if you’re interested in the topic you’ll breeze through it.

The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church Team, and the World by Peter Scazzero

EH leaderI’m always skeptical of leadership books.  They are often very nicely packaged fluff.  They’re usually fun to read but lack substance.  This book offers a break from the norm.

Scazzero provides numerous helpful examples from his seasoned ministry.  Yet, the examples are not merely anecdotes but guides that aid the reader in understanding the material.  The premise of the book can be gathered from the subtitle.  Scazzero spends much time discussing sabbath and boundaries.  All of it is practical and helpful.  Included in each chapter is a brief assessment of your personal health in regards to the topic at hand. I’m not a fan of assessments because I belief we are not honest when taking them.  Yet, these assessments are short and to the point.  I found them to be a quick way  to engage the material and find ways to implement suggestions.

I think this is a go-to read for a pastor (in particular) looking into the topic of self-care for the purpose of strengthening and extending ministry.

Doing Church As A Team: The Miracle of Teamwork And How It Transforms Churches by Wayne Cordeiro

Doing Church as Team.jpgThe principle of this books is great:  You need to develop a ministry team.  And that takes work.  So work at it.  Your ministry will suffer without a team and will greatly benefit from a team.  The rest of the book is hit or miss.

In contrast to the Scazzero book mentioned above, this book also has a number of personal illustration from ministry but they seems less helpful and more like window dressing.  It is a quick and fun read.  I personally enjoyed it.  It is marked up and underlined at many points because I intend to use many of the stories and illustrations to highlight points in my teaching ministry.  Yet, the real content of the book can easily be summarized in the few italicized sentences above.

Instead of this book I would recommend Andy Stanley’s Next Generation Leader for more info on the same topic.

The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church To Reach A Changing World by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk

Missional Leader.jpgThis book was published in 2006 and its still ahead of its time.  How’s that for an intro?!

The word “missional” has become a buzzword over the course of the last 15 years.  While the definition of being missional continues to shift, a theology or practical look at a missional leader lags far behind current thought and trends.  Roxburgh and Romanuk attempt to fill that gap with a slim volume that contains extremely forward thinking material.  Even 10 years after its release date I don’t think the church has caught up to it.

Roxburgh and Romanuk spend a lot of time discussing continuous VS discontinuous change.  The former develops out of what has gone before and therefore the change can be expected, anticipated, and managed.  The latter is disruptive, unanticipated and creates situations that shatter assumptions.  Today’s church lives in a world of discontinuous change.  Leaders must shift strategies.

The book offers a number of helpful models on leading change in such a world and discuss the skills needed by leaders that take on the task.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal (and Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell)

Team of TeamsThis is a book that I’ve read before but read with a fine tooth comb this month.

I was impressed by the writing in this book.  It is incredibly crisp, clear, and engaging.  The book sets out to discuss organizational adjustments needed to adapt to our rapidly changing “complex world.”  The main author, General Stanley McChrystal, accomplishes this task by giving brief insights learned from serving as the commander of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.  His insights are broadened to make larger points to readers who lead various organizations.  At points you can tell the work of numerous coauthors.  Some portions are heavily military focused.  Some portions are heavily business focused.  Some portions are heavily social science focused.  Yet, it works.

I appreciate books that speak from an area of expertise that I don’t possess.  I appreciate books that can clearly explain lessons learned from a specific situation and provide on-ramps for readers to make the appropriate application to their given context.  This book puts a square peg into that square hole.

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