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Going Deep
Going Deep
by Gordon Macdonald
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and practical, if a little clunky in style, 24 July 2012
This review is from: Going Deep (Paperback)
I really like books by Gordon MacDonald, almost without fail. This one was no exception, tackling as it does a topic close to my heart. It recounts the story of a church which became serious about disciple-making, a church which decided to release its pastor (MacDonald) and his wife to a deliberate and all-out effort to develop what they chose to call 'deep people'. Yet the book differs from many of MacDonald's other offerings, being written as a reconstruction of conversations and messages which happened between him and others over a period of some two years. It is for this reason that Going Deep is not my favourite of his books; at times it felt a little stilted and even, very rarely, awkward.

But do not hold this against the book! Its passion for the church's primary mandate, its sheer practicality and its depth all more than compensate any weakness of form. It has inspired me to hear of others who are engaged in such work and, furthermore, encouraged me to explore relaunching a similar disciple-making initiative which I implemented with a team some years back. So I think this book has done its work and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who loves the church and wants to get serious about making disciples!

I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in return for a fair review.


The Theology of the Second Chair
The Theology of the Second Chair
by Roger Patterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 July 2012
This book is the companion volume to Bonem and Patterson's Leading from the Second Chair. Its subtitle is about twice the length of the main bit of the title, its binding a bland yellow-beige and its author proudly proclaims his DMin qualification on the front cover. Inside, the text is double-spaced with a plethora of footnotes and you find a 'definition of terms' only three pages in. Without doubt, this has to be the author's DMin thesis and, coming in at about 86 pages, it is probably the thesis in its relatively unedited length.

Yes, I know, it almost certainly says something about me that I chose to read this companion volume first! But I wanted to get to the nitty-gritty quickly, to understand what is the thesis and how sustainable it is. In short, those answers are (i) some leaders' roles are second-chair, that is, to support the first-chair leader and (ii) not very, in my opinion.

I was really disappointed because I suspect that the main popular-level book is probably quite interesting and contains some useful insights for those who have a second-chair/executive pastor type of role in their church. But the theological defence was neither very theological nor a great defence in my opinion. It draws principles from Scripture in a way which would have got me lynched in any exegesis or expository preaching classes, and works through character studies of Aaron, Joshua, Timothy and Titus, with a brief excursus into Elisha to show how second-chairs can sometimes become first chair leaders.

The biggest and most unsustained detour was the attempt to justify second-chair leadership from the suggestion that, because in the Trinity the Father is the source of ultimate authority and the Son and the Spirit are the source of subordination, so this can be applied to lead leaders and subordinate leaders in the church. There is then, sadly, not much more theological explanation concerning how or why some leaders are like the Father and others like the Son/Spirit and how we can apply something which is true of deity directly to humanity!

There also seems to be a heavy weighting on OT examples of such leadership in Israel, although these, of course, are not necessarily directly applicable to the church without some explanation as to how/why; the NT examples feel more forced and don't give voice to the breadth of leadership models which can be found there.

In short, I couldn't help feeling that Patterson came into this thesis-writing exercise with a case to make and he has sought to make it, perhaps sometimes to the detriment of a consideration of the full sweep of Scripture and to the appropriateness of his methodology. If you have the time, you might gain something from reading the book and engaging with his writing for yourself but, otherwise, I suspect the popular-level book might be more helpful given its focus on helping second-chairs to fulfil the role well rather than trying to justify the existence of second chair leadership.


Pioneers 4 Life: Explorations in Theology and Wisdom for Pioneering Leaders
Pioneers 4 Life: Explorations in Theology and Wisdom for Pioneering Leaders
by David Male
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Collection of informative stand-alone articles, 22 July 2012
This book includes article-length offerings from various authors, interwoven with stories from pioneering leaders engaged in grass-roots level church and evangelism. The articles are generally well-written and informative; they include an assessment of the contemporary scene by Graham Cray, insights from Paul and Acts by John Drane and Richard Bauckham respectively, as well as contributions from Mike Moynagh and George Lings. However, it was the selection of stories from practitioners which most caught my imagination! Details about some very exciting pioneer work are recorded here and these would be an encouragement to many others who are working at the coal-face of such ministry or contemplating a call to do so.

If you are interested in pioneer ministry, this book will be worth your while, both for its Biblical and theological thinking as well as its stories. It also includes a helpful list of web-based resources for pioneers which would help you explore this topic further.


The Art of Mentoring: Embracing the Great Generational Transition
The Art of Mentoring: Embracing the Great Generational Transition
by Darlene Zschech
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom in bite-sized portions, 22 July 2012
This globally-known singer-songwriter, who has an amazing track record in leading a large and celebrated worship team, is well-placed to write a book on the art of mentoring. She has put together a resource from which anyone can learn. It comprises chapters which focus on fourteen `values', including encouragement, humility, excellence and people. Because of its structure, it is a good book for reading in bite-size portions; each chapter stands alone as a reflection on its own subject. The writing is laced with Scriptural references and stories from Zschech's own experience, which is plentiful when it comes to raising up the next generation of leaders. If you are interested in mentoring, this is worth a look because, although it does not give great attention to the mechanics of mentoring, it does convey something of the heart which is foundational to being a good mentor.


Mondays with My Old Pastor: Sometimes All We Need Is a Reminder from Someone Who Has Walked Before Us
Mondays with My Old Pastor: Sometimes All We Need Is a Reminder from Someone Who Has Walked Before Us
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 12 Jun. 2012
I loved this book. I don't say that often, mostly because I'm jaded when it comes to popular Christian literature. But I really loved it.

Perhaps it is because it deals with a topic which feels ever close to my heart - the self-care of pastors. Perhaps it is because of its unremitting focus on the cross of Jesus as the centre of all ministry. Or perhaps it is the refreshing style of the writer, who presents his teachings with the simple touch of a storyteller.

Yet, whatever the reason, this book touched my heart. If you are in ministry and want to protect against the dangers of burnout or have perhaps already succumbed, I think that it will touch your heart too. I found it beautifully written and it held my attention as each chapter recounted yet another meeting between the young pastor protagonist and his `old pastor', with yet another teaching holding high the cross of Jesus. I wish I had read it more slowly, more thoughtfully. But I didn't because I could hardly stop reading it!

I don't really know what else to say about this book because nothing I say will quite capture what it did to me.

It was simple. It was beautiful. And it caught me unawares.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for a fair review.


I am follower
I am follower
by Leonard Sweet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I struggled with this one, 30 May 2012
This review is from: I am follower (Paperback)
Sweet's book, I Am a Follower, was one which I chose because of my interest in leadership. In an attempt to debunk the idea of leadership, Sweet hits on the idea of followership and, more specifically, 'first followership'. I'm just not sure of the point of this and am not convinced that there is an arguable difference between being first follower and leader: all I can say is that I rather suspect that such a distinction depends on how you define leadership and I am not sure that I support Sweet's definition!

Yet I recognise that in writing this book Sweet is trying to react against much which has become current in writings on leadership and I did consider the book to be quite interesting with a lot of valid reflections by the author. I particularly appreciated the questions at the end of each section which encourage deeper reflection; I think that, in many ways, these were the most valuable part of the book as they provided stimulus to some further thinking.

I must admit to struggling with Sweet's writing style. I have since read a couple of other books of his and realised that this is not specific to I Am a Follower but is true for me across the board: I find the style a little too disjointed and bumpy to hold my attention. This disjointedness also seems to extend to the book's structure: it comes in four parts (headings for these parts are place, way, truth and life), but I am not entirely sure how these parts differed from one another in any notable way. The endless subheadings also did not help my sense of the book's overall direction. However, to be fair to Sweet at this point, I was reading an e-copy of his book and perhaps I would have felt differently about the whole feel of the book's structure had I been reading a hard copy.

All of this leads me now to a confession. I am lost somewhere in the last part of the book. It's almost unheard-of for me not to finish a book but, having read almost all of this one, I lost the will to finish it a few months back. Perhaps this time the lack of motivation to finish the last few pages has been exacerbated by a frustration with the e-book format in this particular case; it is certainly not only due to the content, although that too has played its part in my reluctance.

Honest opinion? I think you might have to try it for yourself. In hard copy!

I received a free copy of this book for review from BookSneeze.


Out of Deception
Out of Deception
by Nathan Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.07

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A short and engaging read, 11 May 2012
This review is from: Out of Deception (Paperback)
This true account of the deception of a young Amish man, Wil, and his family tells of a charismatic leader called Wilbur Lee Eash and the cult which he forms around him. Written in the first person from Wil's perspective, this book tells of his confusion about the nature of faith and particularly the truth of the gospel as Lee Eash twists it beyond recognition. What begins as a freeing description by Lee Eash of salvation by grace in the place of the legalism of the particular Amish community in which Wil and his family were participating descends into the demented ramblings of a madman who eventually denies the resurrection of Christ and believes that he alone has the true revelation.

Although the story is a sad one with much ensuing pain for Wil and his family, this is also a story of hope as Wil, and eventually many of his family members escape the control of Lee Eash and his cult and discover the truth of a gospel of grace for themselves. The book is engaging and I was able to read it in an afternoon.

I received a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.


Call of a Coward
Call of a Coward
by Marcia Moston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging read, 11 May 2012
This review is from: Call of a Coward (Paperback)
What if your husband returned home one afternoon after a mission trip with the conviction that God was calling you to serve in Guatemala? And what if you had known that he was going to say that because God has told you the same thing while he was away?

Moston recounts the disruption to her middle-class lifestyle as she and her family move to Central America to serve God in a way that she had never expected. She also tells of all that follows as they end up leaving Guatemala and move to serve God in yet another completely unexpected context.

I enjoyed this book. It encouraged my faith and reminded me that when God calls a person to something he walks with them in it. This is a great Sunday afternoon read!


Sifted (Exponential Series)
Sifted (Exponential Series)
by With Francis Chan and Larry Osborn Wayne Cordeiro
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful and engaging, 11 May 2012
Sifted' is a popular-level exploration of what it means to be faithful when surrounded by trials and disappointments. It focuses particularly on Cordeiro's experiences as a church planter and is written with the help of Francis Chan and Larry Osborne and their contributions are interspersed throughout Cordeiro's text. There were elements of this book which I found quite helpful and encouraging at a time when faith was difficult; although there is nothing here that could not be found elsewhere in Christian writing, this is nevertheless a book worth reading, in part for the heart, character and wisdom of the author, which are apparent from the writing.


The Church's Other Half: Women's Ministry
The Church's Other Half: Women's Ministry
by Trevor Beeson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and informative, 11 May 2012
Beeson writes in an engaging style in The Church's Other Half about the lives and ministries of certain outstanding women throughout the history of the church in England. Amongst those spotlighted are some who are well-known, such as Evelyn Underhill and Florence Nightingale, but many are names that I didn't know before. It's not a book which I would choose to read from cover to cover but instead is something to dip into from time to time. This book would be ideal on a coffee table for guests to read a few pages but it is more than a coffee table book; it is a fascinating education into many strong women who have stood for God in their own unique situations. Despite the title, this is one which both men and women will enjoy!


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