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Missional Reading | Part 3

June 10, 2010

Mike: So we’ve covered the first 6 books I think all missional leaders should seriously pick up.

You can catch up here if you want to see the others:
Books 1-3
Books 4-6

Book 7 | Good to Great by Jim Collins

Mike: Interesting statistic: Other than the Bible, this is the book pastors have read more in the past 10 years than any other. Now that may say something about the state of the church in and of itself (treating church more like a business organization than a movement of the people of God), but there are some really helpful things in this book that will help clarify, for your community, what you are all about. Particularly helpful are asking…Who is on your bus and are they in the right seats?…What does it take to be a Level 5 Leader instead of the Genius with 1000 helpers?…What is your hedgehog concept?…the Stockdale Paradox…Start/Stop. It’s a really engaging read and the Hedgehog concept pairs nicely with Gladwell’s  10,000 hour rule.

Amazon Review:
Unwavering resolve to do what must be done! Ah — a characteristic of the Level 5 (Good to Great) leader, described in this well researched book that shows the reader what it takes to take a good company to greatness. Personal humility fortified with professional will gives Good to Great leaders the edge on their ego-driven counterparts. Collins makes many marvellous points, the first being that the RIGHT people are your most important asset. By rising above unrealistic optimism, confronting brutal facts and asking questions that lead to the greatest insights (optimal thinking), the leader moves his company to greatness. Good to Great leaders focus on the few things that have the greatest impact (optimal thinking). Collins won me when he said “One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.” Good to Great leaders create a culture where the truth is heard, and where negative thinking is not degraded or scorned (optimal thinking). This book is a must read!

Book 8 | Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

Mike: Another book on Christianity Today’s most influential Christian books of the 20th Century, this is a very practical look at the types of disciplines needed to sustain a life of spiritual breakthrough that leads to maturity. Infinitely readable and insightful, I’d give this to anyone wanting to know how to best develop their Interior life. Ultimately, all of the talent and charismatic leadership in the world won’t produce the kind of life that God can use. Foster really drives home the need for submission and humility and finding the right combination of disciplines for your life so you can actually be a disciple of Jesus.

Amazon Review: Celebration of Discipline is one of the finest Christian books of our time. I read it as an “assignment” with a men’s study group, and at first, was a bit ambivalent about this ethereal-sounding spiritual book from a Quaker. I began it reluctantly, but shortly realized that what I was reading was solid, no-holds barred steps towards maturity in Christ, through discipleship and productive living.

Foster speaks of the “inward disciplines” the “outward disciplines” and the “corporate disciplines” of the Christian life. As I flip through the book, I find myself in need of a tune-up.

It’s that kind of book. It’s one that you’ll never master, but the joy is in the journey, and in following the Savior with the full passion of your heart. He’s calling us to the life of Discipline and discipleship, not to a willy-nilly external Christianity. Celebration is a breath of fresh air in an era of “easy believism” and cheap grace.

Foster has touched a generation of believers with this timeless classic.

Book 9 | The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Mike: That’s right, two books by Gladwell on my list. The crux of what Gladwell is asking is why do some ideas/movements spread and others don’t? Considering we are a movement of disciples with the best “good news” of all time, it probably behooves us to understand how things spread. Like many things that Gladwell writes about, he is able to put things together that maybe you felt you always knew, but were never quite able to articulate.

Amazon Review: Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for New Yorker Magazine, in The Tipping Point, writes a fascinating study of human behavior patterns, and shows us where the smallest things can trigger an epidemic of change. Though loaded with statistics, the numbers are presented in a way that makes the book read like an exciting novel. Gladwell also gives several examples in history, where one small change in behavior created a bigger change on a national level. He also studies the type of person or group that it takes to make that change.

Gladwell’s first example is the resurgence of the popularity of Hush Puppies, which had long been out of fashion, and were only sold in small shoe stores. Suddenly, a group of teenage boys in East Village, New York, found the cool to wear. Word-of-mouth advertising that these trend-setters were wearing the once-popular suede shoes set off an epidemic of fashion change, and boys all over America had to have the “cool” shoes.

Galdwell also examines the difference in personality it takes to trigger the change. For example, we all know of Paul Revere’s famous ride, but how many of us know that William Dawes made a similar ride? The difference was that people listened to Revere and not to Dawes. Why? Revere knew so many different people. He knew who led which village, knew which doors to knock on to rouse the colonists. Dawes didn’t know that many people and therefore could only guess which people to give his message.

There are several other phenomena that Gladwell examines, showing the small things that spark a change, from the dip in the New York City crime rate to the correlation between depression, smoking and teen suicide. If you want to change the world for the better, this book will give you an insight into the methods that work, and those that will backfire. It’s all in knowing where to find The Tipping Point.

Book 10 | The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch

Mike: My buddy Alan gets a second nod in my recommended books. While “The Shaping of Things to Come” is a great introduction to a shift towards missional thinking, it is both a cursory look and great for people in our churches to read. The Forgotten Ways is a bit denser, loaded with statistics and theory looking at the underpinnings of movements and the discipling/missional life, but man if it isn’t worth every penny. He is able to put things together in a way where all the lights on your dashboard start blinking and you say, “Yes! I knew it!”

Amazon Review: It’s a powerful followup to The Shaping of Things to Come. Alan builds on the imagination and passion of the earlier work with Michael Frost to offer a vision for reinvigorating a missional movement that became an unholy alliance with the state under Constantine. With the legacy of Christendom rapidly becoming a piece of history, we have an opportunity to discover our missional DNA (mDNA). What is the dynamic that caused the church to grow from 25,000 souls to 20 million in 200 years? What similar dynamic empowered the Chinese church, while existing underground and outlawed, to expand at the same rate… without professional leaders, training facilities, or buildings? Is there hope for the Church in the west, mired as we are in modernity, in love with our buildings and comforts? Perhaps Roland Allen, in a quote offered by Hirsch, offers us a clue: “The spontaneous expansion of the Church reduced to its elements is a very simple thing. It asks for no elaborate organization, no large finances, no great numbers of paid missionaries. In its beginning it may be the work of one man, and that a man neither learned in the things of this world, nor rich in the wealth of this world.. What is necessary is faith. What is needed is the kind of faith which unify a man to Christ, sets him on fire.” At the heart of the transition toward rediscovering this mDNA established communities made these changes: 1. the basic ekklesial unit becomes much smaller – not mini churches but meta church or house church. 2.not a new philosophy of ministry per se, not renewed vision and values, but a covenant and core practices. 3. each group becomes engaged in a set of disciplines 4. the movement exists in three rhythms – a weekly cycle of house meetings, a monthly tribal meeting and a biannual gathering of all tribes in the network. 5. each group covenants to multiply itself.

Alan is his usual calculating self here.. there are many diagrams and tremendous fodder for the imagination, many examples and diagrams and charts. In short, it’s a sweeping and integrative attempt to reimagine the church around her mission – what a novel thought!


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