The Tipping Point

Like a worship song that was written in 2000, this book was good, but there were times where it felt as though it’s irrelevancy with today caused doubt to be casted upon it’s relevancy for today.

What do I mean?

First off, let me just admit that this is a well written book with probably a wealth of information that was groundbreaking at the time it was released. It didn’t become a “#1 Best Seller” because it told a story of love that attracted “teeny-boppers” and their mothers alike.

This was a book with great insights to what things can make the biggest difference.

Because there is so much out there in the blogosphere about this book, I won’t waste your time to tell you what every knows is great about this book. What I will tell you is what I’ve taken away from this book – and that’s this:

You don’t have to have a comprehensive plan to make a comprehensive difference.

Have you read “The Tipping Point?”

What were your reactions?

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Deliberate Simplicity by Dave Browning

“The current reformation is not so much a reformation of faith…but a reformation of practice.” Yet for the church – which often institutionalizes its practices – reforms in methodology can prove every bit as epic as reforms in theology. – pg.20

Put simply (no pun intended) the basic premise of this book is that in the equation of church development, less can equal more. Reading this book was both a breath of fresh air, and an affirmation of everything I’ve felt about how the local church could healthily function in a new generation.

In typical “pastor-esque” fashion, Dave lays out what he believes are six principles for leading a “deliberately simple church.”

  1. Minimality
  2. Intentionality
  3. Reality
  4. Multility
  5. Velocity
  6. Scalability

In his book, Dave says things that we already believe as followers of Christ, but in the complexity of what we’ve made church to be, we have somehow moved from them. For instance, he tells about how after talking to a group of people about the missional vision of his church, a woman stands up and asks, “Isn’t the church for those who are believers?”

His response was what we already know, but it spoke directly to the sometimes selfish and self-centered view we take on describing what the church is about. He replied by saying:

“No, the church is not for us. The church is us, but it’s not for us. We are here for the lost.”

For the most part, the book was engaging and thought provoking. The only part he lost me and began to sound a lot like Niel Cole in his book Organic Church was when he began to describe various models of dysfunctional churches. He too jumped on the bandwagon of criticizing “purpose driven churches” and “seeker churches.” It was the only part of the book where I felt he was coming off as he had the answer and that these other models could not attain the same results.

To sum it up, I highly recommend this book – not only to pastors and vocational ministers – but for any believer in Christ. Reader beware…if you like your church in your own “little box,” this isn’t for you.

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The CASHFLOW Quadrant

Financial freedom is a vastly different from financial security.

For those of you who have read Rich Dad Poor Dad this book is basically an extension of the lessons taught in that book. Robert Kiyosaki gives a brief description of his journey as an adult going from a short stint living in his car to financial freedom by taking advantage of tax laws and creating assets that create passive income. (My personal gushings about this book can be found here.)

The title of the book, The Cashflow Quadrant, describes an image that separates people into 4 categories: employee, self employed, business owner and investor. (below)

Many distinctions are drawn in regards to the “left side” and the “right side” of the quadrant and what it takes to be on each side.

Kiyosaki believes strongly in the fact that if you are an E or an S you play an old game that makes sense for governments and business owners because you pay the highest amount of taxes and build large amounts of debt thinking that by doing that you are avoiding taxes through credits or refunds.The left side of the quadrant works the hardest, and is obsessed with going to school to find a job and maintain their “security.” Those who would be considered an S are people who are self employed and lose their income when they are not at work. (doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc.) People on the left side of the quadrant can, and some do, make a lot of money and are very successful. The problem with this success is that the more success you encounter the less personal time you have and the harder you have to work. Again, many people choose this route because they feel secure in the fact that they know where their next paycheck is coming from.

People on the “right side” of the quadrant are not concerned with security and are interested in creating income both as a business owner and investor. Business owners and investors enjoy tax breaks, are seen as visionaries and risk takers and when success comes they are the people who enjoy more free time.

This book is a learning tool for those of us interested in moving from the left side to the right side of the quadrant. Kiyosaki is methodical and slow in his approach and encourages people to keep their jobs while they take “baby steps” towards the B and I quadrants.

This is a very simple break down of a book that I would HIGHLY recommend to anybody interested in owning their own company through the creation of a system and investing. Kiyosaki speaks of creating a system that will continuously grow and can run in your absence. If you are not interested and what I just wrote seems like a conspiracy or the rantings of a person jaded by unemployment you wouldn’t make it through and this book may anger you.

Hope this finds you well.

~jc

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Steering Through Chaos

Change is constant. Sometimes change happens slowly and is missed by those closest to it and sometimes it is abrupt and can have positive or negative consequences.

In Steering Through Chaos Scott Wilson provides a clear path to not only expecting change, but embracing it.

Throughout the book it becomes increasingly clear that we as church leaders, vocational or lay leaders, need to understand that it is God who owns the church and not us. This is especially important for the generation that “pays” for the church because they will often resist change and try to keep the church, that they spent so much time building through blood, sweat and tears, just the way they like it.

There is something very attractive about an organization that has a clear purpose and is driven by its mission. In the book Made to Stick this principle is called “commanders intent” and when employed properly will guide each and every decision made by every member of the organization. In that same vein Scott has clear goals written for the leadership at his church and, through those goals, decisions are made and the church is allowed to ebb and flow with the community as it grows and changes. This is especially important as the church should continuously be moving to better reflect what their community needs.

At our church (and yours too), we are called by God to reach the lost and build disciples who love him above all else. That was our calling from the first day, and it will be out calling on the last day. But our strategy to accomplish that objective changes over time as God leads us in new directions to touch more people.

This is so important for people both young and old to understand.

If we confuse vision and strategy, we’ll rigidly cling to buildings and programs, and we’ll fail to adjust our sails to go in the direction God leads us.

I would certainly recommend this book to every pastor I know as well as any person that is in any way involved with their church. As a lay person this book provides a blue print on how we can best serve our pastors as well as recognize a great leader within the church. Many people spend their lives looking for the perfect church or feeling like there is something better our there. This book is a great tool for recognizing a leader who will keep the Word fresh, exciting and most important challenging.

Leaders aren’t perfect but they are in constant pursuit of change and recognize what they have to offer as well as what they can work on.

Hope this finds you well.

~jc

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Knockout Entrepreneur

We all know George Foreman in one way or another. He has been the boxing heavy weight champion of the world multiple times, lived and fought through boxings most popular time and reinvented himself as a pitchman for an essential college cooking device.

My advice to George, and others like him, is to stay FAR away from writing books like this. It would be very difficult for me to recommend this book to anyone beyond the earliest conception of business ownership.

The advice given within the pages of Knockout Entrepreneur can be found in thousands of other books written around analogies just like this one. While I appreciate that George promotes “The Good Book” and being ethical, the book seemed to drag on as George continuously talked about the George Foreman grill and fighting and then applying those same principals to being an entrepreneur.

The part that I really struggled with is that George doesn’t have the experience of creating, bootstrapping and building from the ground up. His public reinvention made him millions and made him a household name for a second time and to a second generation but he was the face of a product that had been developed and one that he has since sold his interest in.

While it is convenient to compare preparing for a boxing match and creating a company they are no where near the same. Training yourself physically and having the discipline it takes to do that day in and day out it is mindless work. Creating a concept for a business and bringing it to fruition are eons apart.

I would only recommend this book to you if you love George Foreman or if you are looking for a very simple breakdown of the basic concepts of entrepreneurship.

Hope this finds you well.

~jc

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The Way of the Heart by Henri J.M. Nouwen

“What I found once I started reading this book was that I didn’t agree with 90% of what it is said.”

I was first introduced to this book a little while ago by a member of the staff at Maple Grove Evangelical Free church. This person did warm me that the theological and philosophical perspectives of this author were most likely different than the average evangelical, but I was captured by this passage in the book:

Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry.  Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following.  They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm.  They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be.  This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake.  It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart.  If there is anything that makes the ministry look grim and dull, it is this dark, insidious anger in the servants of Christ.

It was this passage from the book that brought tears to my eyes because I knew that – for me – these words were too close to home.  I have seen pastors who embody this description and I myself have been and know will be faced with the temptation to be the “angry pastor.” So I asked to borrow the book to see if I could find more encouraging and edifying insight for my life.

What I found once I started reading this book was that I didn’t agree with 90% of what it is said.

While much of the book has very interesting “insights”, it was in my opinion one person’s enamored response to an investigation into the lives of what we refer to as the “Desert Fathers”.  And it was this enamored perspective that Henri tries to make applicable for today’s christian minister.

Because the book is very short (less than 100pgs and the size of a gift book), I will restrain myself from going into it much.  Even though it isn’t one I agree with wholeheartedly, I will say that it is a very good read to ponder and think about. So I don’t seem like a “book basher” I will share some of my more positive insights from this book.

Regarding the “busy life”:

“…we are busy people just like all other busy people, rewarded with the rewards which are rewarded to busy people

Regarding setting a time and a place to be with God and Him alone:

“…a real discipinle never remains vague or general.”

A quote I am still digesting is:

“The goal of our life is not people.  It is God.”

So do I recommend it? Sure

Will I personally buy it?  No.

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Revolutionaries by Matt Brown

Many times when I say the I “know” an author, I am saying that I’ve read his or her stuff. When I say I know Matt Brown, what I am saying is that I remember when he was a young high-school kid whose passion for music was only eclipsed by his passion for the Lord.

So when Matt told me about a book he just finished writing, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve always known that God was going to to great things through him – and he has. This new book, Revolutionaries, is simply a record of the men and women God used to advance and build His kingdom.

What I liked about the book is that it is wonderfully organized in sections covering the lives of revolutionary men and women each century from the birth of Christ up to the present. In reality, this book is kind of a Church History for Dummies because of the amount of information it covers.

The format is simple. Matt gives a brief summary of a “Revolutionary” man or woman’s life, then brings application from that person’s life into how we can become revolutionaries. I will admit, that I found some of the examples of people described as “Revolutionaries” was bit controversial. But what I realized at the end of the book, was that Matt wasn’t trying to find the “most perfect” or “best behaved” “most theologically sound” men and women of faith. He was simply telling the story of how God utilized people to accomplish his will.

That truth is encouraging because on any given day I may not feel like a Billy Graham or a Martin Luther – but what Matt’s book beautifully displays is that people like Billy Graham and Martin Luther were not anything more than simple people like you and me, who allowed God to use them extravagantly. And that’s a good enough reason to pick up this book.

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