Top books for people sensing a call to ministry

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image credit: CreationSwap user Agatha Villa

Sensing a call to ministry?

Then it’s time to start getting prepped now. Nothing can substitute for doing the work of ministry. But picking up and working through a handful (or two) of good books will help you more than you could ever know.

These are some of my favorites. Some I read in seminary. Others I’ve read since I’ve been working full-time in the local church.

I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

 

Ministry

Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladen (e-book)

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (e-book)

Sticky Church by Larry Osborne (e-book)

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne (e-book)

Lectures to my Students by CH Spurgeon (e-book)

Creating Community by Andy Stanley (e-book)

UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (e-book)

 

Leadership

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell (e-book)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (e-book)

Tribes: We Need you to Lead us by Seth Godin (e-book)

Good to Great by Jim Collins (e-book)

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (e-book)

 

Theology/Spiritual Growth

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler (e-book)

Knowing God by JI Packer (e-book)

Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem (e-book)

ESV Study Bible

The Attributes of God by AW Pink (e-book)

Desiring God by John Piper (e-book)

Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen (e-book)

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper (e-book)

The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg (e-book)

 

Anything you’d add?

 

Creature of the Word…a giveaway

Matt Chandler (Explicit Gospel), Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger (Simple Church) just released a new book this month with B&H Publishing called Creature of the Word. Here’s the trailer.

 


The book looks at the scripture-based beauty of a church that makes everything they do about Jesus and outlines practical steps that church leaders can take to help form a gospel-centered ministry.

On Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, Chandler, Geiger and Patterson will host a three-hour interactive simulcast about the book. They will each teach on a different topic from Creature of the Word and then answer viewer questions at the end.

So how about a giveaway?!

I am going to give away three copies of the new book, each that come with an individual simulcast registration to watch the event on the 23rd.

If you do at least 1 of the 3 options below, you’ll be entered:

1. Comment and tell me something that your church is doing to make everything it does about Jesus.

2. RT this post. Make sure to tag me, @benreed.

3. Share this post on Facebook. Make sure to tag me, /benlreed, or /LifeAndTheology.

Deadline to comment, RT, or FB share is Friday, October 12.

And.. go!

 

 

3 free tickets to RightNow 2011

I like you. I genuinely do.

Most of you I know personally because we’ve had conversations either online or in person.

And just to say, “Thanks,” I’d like to give you something.

The guys at Right Now are putting on a conference for lead pastors, student pastors, and young adult pastors. It’s also for anyone who is responsible for casting vision, leading people, and equipping people to serve.

And don’t forget that it’s for small groups pastors, discipleship pastors, assimilation pastors, and anyone responsible for carrying out the Church’s mission through Bible studies, discipleship, or groups.

Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, and Matt Carter will all be there. It’s really a premier conference.

The conference happens from November 2-4, 2011. More details HERE.

And I’ve got 3 tickets to give away! (1 ticket per person)

To enter, just do (at least) one of the following (1 point/action below):

1. Subscribe to this blog. By email click HERE (just follow the instructions…it’s really easy), or by RSS HERE.

2. Tweet or Facebook (or both) this, making sure to tag me: Want to score a free ticket to Right Now 2011? Check out @benreed ‘s blog here: http://ow.ly/6ELRF 

3. “Like” Life & Theology on Facebook HERE.

4. You must leave a comment below, simply telling me how many of these you’ve done (1 for each of the above).

I’ll choose the winners via random.org on Friday, September 30th.

Good luck!

 

My small group awesomeness contest

My small group is way, way better than yours.  Why?

2 words: catfish fry.

Last week, we had our small group, including children, over to our house to fry up some catfish, french fries, and hushpuppies.  We topped that off with roasted marshmallows for dessert.  You. Can. Not. Beat. That.  Even if you get all “holy” and “we-study-the-Bible” on me.

But I’ll give you a chance, in just a moment.

Let me tell you about a new site, Only144.com.  It’s like Groupon, but for churches.  They’re a brand new company, trying to get word out about what they do.  They’ll be offering phenomenal deals for churches on various resources.  This has the potential to really help local churches out in a huge way.

In fact, they’ll be offering some small group curriculum that has the chance to shape your church culture in a huge way.

And in order to help get the word out about their new site, they’re willing to give away $600 worth of curriculum here through my blog!

If you win, you’ll get:

This contest on my blog is super-short…less than 24 hours!

If you’d like to enter, please do at least 1 of the following:

1. Leave a comment below trying to convince me that your small group is better than mine.  Good luck with that.

2. Tweet or Facebook the following: My small group’s awesomer than yours…about to win $600 in resources to prove it! Details: http://ow.ly/5PPaT

In your tweet, mention me using @benreed, or in your Facebook status be sure to tag me so I can find your post and include you in the drawing.

Feel free to enter the contest as many times as you’d like…each time you Tweet, Facebook, or comment, you’re entering your name into the pot.

The contest will end on Friday, July 29th, at 12:00 pm central time.  So hurry up and get those entries in!

 

What’s on your iPod?

(image by Sandy Lee)

I listen to music a lot, especially when I run.  And I change things up quite a bit with new music.

Here’s what’s currently on my iPod:

  • Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
  • The Civil Wars: Barton Hollow
  • Amos Lee: Mission Bell
  • The Black Keys: Brothers
  • Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors: Chasing Someday
  • The Decemberists: The King is Dead
  • Hillsong United: Aftermath
  • The Village Church (Matt Chandler) Podcast

What’s on your iPod, right now?

 

Theological laziness

Image by Redeemer Fellowship

We tend to take the easy road. The one that’s quicker, easier, and microwaved.  And that’s not all so bad with a lot of things.  Emails are much faster than letters.  Cell phones are much faster and more efficient than landlines.  Buying a book on Kindle is faster and cheaper than buying a physical copy and paying for shipping.

But when it comes to theology, don’t do it. Becoming a parrot is much easier than becoming a theologian.  But it’s not helpful for the Church.  And in the long run, it will leave you intellectually and theologically paralyzed.

At points in my life, I’ve felt pigeonholed into giving the right answer, quoting the right author, and listening to the right preachers.  Learn to think, talk, and write like the good guys.  Sure, I was encouraged to read the other writers/pastors, but just so I would know their side of the argument.

But we need to think for ourselves.  Read.  Study.  Listen.  And arrive at our own conclusions…not just haphazardly arrive at the same conclusions as the popular conservative, conference-speaking, book-writing pastors of our day.  Because we can read the Bible for ourselves.  And we can think for ourselves.  And we can develop theology ourselves.* We don’t have to consult other men and women when we are articulating our theology.  And when we consult them in place of thinking for ourselves, we miss out on a great benefit of study: discovery.

God still speaks

Call me crazy, but I still think that God speaks today, and He’s not just speaking to the popular pastors.  He’s speaking to me.  And you.  And all other believers.

Standing on the shoulders of giants is different than standing behind them yelling, “Yeah…what he said!”  Standing on the shoulders of giants means that we learn and grow from those who have gone before us.  Standing on their shoulders means we don’t simply lay hold of their conclusions…the ones it took them years to arrive at.  That borders on intellectual thievery.

Most people tend to take the easy way out.  When it comes to theology, don’t short-circuit the work on God in your heart.

Have you ever been lulled into taking the easy way out when it comes to understanding the things of God?

Disagree with me?  Leave a comment below and let’s discuss it!

*Hear me correctly: I’m not trying to divorce myself from our church fathers.  There’s a depth and richness to their writing that’s difficult to find today.  And there’s great wisdom in learning from those who have gone before us, and who are continuing to presently pave the way.  I’m just not linking myself so tightly with them that I can’t use the brain that God has given me to actually do what it was intended to do.  Think!

 

Follow Friday

I’m convinced that Twitter and social networking are operating on the cutting edge of society.  Not necessarily the platform itself, but the opportunities it opens up for the spread of ideas.  What used to take hours to reach the print is now being spun out in real time.  What you used to have to wait for the evening news to see, you can now see instantly wherever you are.  What used to take months to get to to the print press as a book is now updated daily.

But social media is so large, now, that it can be tough to find those people that you’d like to follow.

For a while now, Twitter users have been promoting their friends using the hashtag #FF (which stands for Follow Friday).  Basically, on Friday, you mention a few people that you enjoy following on Twitter, and encourage others to follow them, too.  (by the way, if you need a crash course on the language of Twitter, read mine HERE)  Here’s an example:

It’s kind of like Facebook’s “Suggest” button.  Mike suggests that people follow these Twitterers.  Make sense?

I’m taking this concept one step further.  I’ve been on Twitter now for about 2.5 years, and have stumbled upon some great leaders.  To save you the time of reading their updates and visiting their blogs to see if they’re worth following, I’m handpicking the best of the best.

Not on Twitter?  No worries. Even if you don’t use Twitter, you can follow people on Twitter. Just open up a Google Reader account, and subscribe to their RSS Twitter feed. (that sentence lose you? Don’t fear. My explanation of Google Reader is HERE)

Each week, I’ll present a different crop of Twitterers that you need to be following.  This week, I give you 5 people who are influencing me right now.  You should follow them…immediately.

5 people influencing me:

Seth Godin - Seth Godin is a entrepreneur, author, and speaker.  And he’s a marketing genius.  His books are helping shape the way I think about leadership and influence. Follow him on Twitter, @ThisIsSethsBlog and find him on his website HERE.

Matt Chandler – Pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, TX.  I often listen to Matt’s sermons when I run…which means I laugh, I’m convicted, and when I’m done running, I have pages worth of notes in my head.  My small group is also going through his Philippians study.  Follow him on Twitter, @mattchandler74

Michael Hyatt – Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael is a prolific blogger (blog HERE) and Twitterer.  His content is consistently helpful and insightful for me in my area of leadership.  With my love of leading and writing, I don’t miss one of his posts.  Follow him on Twitter, @michaelhyatt

John Burke – Pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. His book No Perfect People Allowed will mess you up. Follow him on Twitter, @johnburke_, though he’s not a prolific Twitterer.

Rick Warren – To be honest, when the Purpose Driven Life craze was in full swing, I was not on that bandwagon.  Not because I had anything against it…I just hadn’t bought in yet.  Or read it.  Which explains why I hadn’t bought in.  On top of that, early in my ministry career, Rick Warren was lumped into a category of pastors who were seeker-friendly at the expense of the Gospel.  I’ve learned that that category is far from fair with Rick.  His short Twitter updates strike to the heart. Follow him on Twitter, @rickwarren

Who’s influencing you?

 

Matt Chandler & Philippians

I’ve recently picked up a copy of Matt Chandler’s new small group study on the book of Philippians.  It’s published by The Hub (formerly song of solomon).

I have to admit: I’m a Matt Chandler fan.  I stumbled onto his podcast a few years back, and have really connected with his preaching.  He’s easy to follow, funny, and engaging.  And to top it all off…his sermons are biblically saturated.  He preaches expositionally in a way that isn’t boring, and if you’ve spent much time under an expository preacher, you know that I’ve just given a huge compliment to Chandler.  For some reason, I feel like I connect with Matt’s style better than I do other big-name preachers.  Needless to say, I was intrigued by this study.

But great sermons and great preachers don’t always translate well into small groups.

Positives:

1. Chandler uses the same style of preaching in this video as he does on Sunday mornings. Like I said above, I have found it easy to connect with his preaching style.

2. There are very few questions. One of my critiques of Abide was that there were too many questions.  It’s easy to throw a plethora of questions into each week’s discussion.  The difficult part for writers (and editors) is choosing the best questions that draw out the most thoughtful, heart-searching answers.  They have limited themselves to a 10-question max, and the questions that they’ve presented are really on-point.

3. There’s very little required homework. I try to consistently encourage those in my small group to spend time daily with the Lord.  This curriculum gives them a natural place to start each day.  But the next week’s questions aren’t built upon the prior week’s homework…and that’s a good thing.  If you happen to miss a week, or get busy and don’t have time to look over the Scripture passage, you can just show up and immediately jump into the discussion.

4. “Diving deeper.” There’s a section each week that gives people the opportunity to go “deeper” in their own personal study of the passage.  I like when a curriculum gives flexibility to differing levels of spiritual maturity.

5. The memory verse. I’m not great at memorizing Scripture.  Ok…that’s a lie…let me try again.  I don’t try very hard to memorize Scripture.  But this study takes a verse from the passage that Chandler is preaching about, and encourages the group to memorize it.  I love how this study integrates the discipline of Scripture memory.

6. The Scripture passages are right there in the book. I like to take notes when I hear sermons, and having the Scripture passages right there in the book allows me to take notes right alongside the discussion questions that the group will be talking about.

Negatives:

1. The sermons are 30 minutes long. I’m not opposed to 30 minute sermons, but the problem that groups run into is that sermons of this length can eat into discussion times.

2. This curriculum is 12 weeks long. In my opinion, that’s too long.  If it doesn’t connect with your group, you could be stuck with it for quite a while.  But wait, you say…if my group doesn’t like it, couldn’t we just tank it and pick up another study??  Well… (see below)

3. It’s really expensive. The DVD set alone (3 DVDs) is $149.95.  That’s Beth-Moore-expensive.  I get it…Chandler and the team put a lot of time and effort into this series.  And it’s probably worth every penny.  But this price point keeps it out of a lot of people’s hands.

All-in-all, this is a great study.  I’ve gone back and read (in my personal study time) the book of Philippians, and have found a greater depth and richness to my study after having gone through this series.  This is really a 12-week immersion in the Bible.  You hear it preached.  You read it.  You memorize it.  You learn how to interpret/understand it a little better.  You discuss it.  You’re challenged to live it out.

Your small group needs to pick this study up.