Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Review: "Resurrection Matters" by Nurya Love Parish

Many books about cutting-edge, transformational ministries are told after the fact.  A new opportunity arose, the Holy Spirit nudged a few faithful, gifted leaders, and, looking back, the whole enterprise seems almost inevitable.  Resurrection Matters: Church Renewal for Creation’s Sake by Nurya Love Parish takes a very different approach.  Nurya tells her story of starting a farm-based ministry while still in its early phase.  Instead of three easy steps to replicate this ministry in your own context, we are blessed by the courageous account of someone struggling to answer her call in a confusing time for the church and critical time for the environment.  How God has led her smack dab into the middle of the fledgling Christian food movement is both challenging and inspirational.

Throughout this book, we are introduced to Nurya’s deepest passions.  Her central passion is her faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Flowing out of that faith are her dedication to the renewal of God’s church and the stewardship of God’s creation.  In Resurrection Matters, we journey with Nurya through the personal stories and the facts and figures that led her to taking a huge risk with her family’s home and savings to start a farm ministry.  Along the way we learn about the infinity loop of organizational renewal, the contemporary church’s “rummage sale”, the modern history of Christian farm ministry, and why millennials seem more interested in organic farming than churches.  Most importantly, we share a Christian leader’s struggles as she finds the necessary wisdom and courage to begin a non-traditional ministry that is beginning to make a difference in the church and the environment.

Resurrection Matters’s engaging style makes for an easy and enjoyable read.  The book contains appendices with a study guide; planning processes for households, congregations, and judicatories; information on community supported agriculture; and lists of resources for further study.  I highly recommend this book to those interested in how the church might engage creation care, as well as to anyone feeling like God may be calling them to start something new.   

(Disclaimer: I have worked with Nurya Love Parish on a number of projects, and I received a review copy of Resurrection Matters.) 

You can order Resurrection Matters from church publishing or Amazon.    

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Review: The Leadership Difference by Robert E. Logan

Bob Logan's new book, The Leadership Difference, is the alpha-to-omega guide to Christian leadership. This work is easy to read and accessible, yet delves deeply into a wide range of topics necessary for effective leadership in Christian ministry. Helpful for both pastors and lay leaders, Logan combines the best of secular wisdom with an unblinking call for leaders to deepen their own discipleship in order to be effective.

Logan's first chapter recognizes that "many of what we consider leadership issues are actually discipleship issues."  He spends time looking at discipleship competencies that leaders need to develop for themselves and pass on to their congregations before beginning to look at various leadership competencies.  This focus is too often skipped, yet Logan is correct that the personal discipleship of the leader is the foundation of any further Christian leadership.

Logan's second chapter deals with the leader's personal development in basic life skills that are essential for successful ministry.  Even experienced, effective leaders benefit from taking another look at our ability to manage time and money, set priorities, say "no", and similar topics. 

Undergirded by the leader's own personal formation, Logan moves on to topics including team recruitment and development, discernment, leading change, communication, organizational development, and basic finance. Each chapter combines good stories, a helpful approach, and concrete details that contribute to success, while offering a manageable list of other resources.  Wherever a leader is in their current ministry, something in the book will be directly applicable at this moment.  As I read it, during one chapter I had to put down the book, pick up a pen, and write a list of next steps in a particular area that Logan's discussion had made me think about.  I expect that if I read this book again next year, I will be forced to stop in the middle of another chapter as it helps unknot my thinking about that particular season's challenge. 

The Leadership Difference's final chapter is entitled "Empowering and Releasing Others: Giving It All Away." Here we see the power of Logan's overall vision of discipleship, leadership, and empowerment. The chapter's four topics of servant leadership, developing others for mission, fostering kingdom cooperation, and releasing and empowering well are all covered in ways highlight how the work we do moves beyond us to the build up all of God's kingdom.  As Logan writes, "Real leadership -- biblical leadership -- is about giving away ministry responsibility and decision-making authority, not keeping it for yourself.  It's about equipping others to do what you do."

I highly recommend The Leadership Difference to anyone wanting to make their ministry more effective, from experienced pastors to lay people stretching themselves with a new assignment. This book will offer something you need to hear today, while pushing your vision further for tomorrow.

The book may be purchased from LoganLeadership, Amazon, or other booksellers.

(Disclaimer: I have worked with Bob Logan for more than a decade and received a review copy of The Leadership Difference.)