It is my intention to read one book a week for the entire year. Here is my reviews of some of the highlights from the first half of 2017. These reviews come from my Goodreads page, which I attempt to keep current.
Urban Hinterlands: Planting the Gospel in Uncool Places by Sean Benesh
The book is not great. It is like watching a snake eat it's own tail sometimes. The author keeps on retreating into his own arguments, and keeps on reminding us the reader about what he is trying to say vs. just saying it.
But, there are moments when he finally starts saying things that I found myself sitting up and taking notice. The book is short enough that an almost great chapter pays for the price of admission. Chapter 9 of this book is where the meat is. It is observation and interpretation and the giving of an opinion.
If you are thinking about planting a church, or if you are thinking about moving somewhere in America to find yourself, this may be a book worth reading before you put down roots.
Scandalous by DA Carson
I love Jesus Christ. And I love digging into the Bible to see more of him. This collection of biblical examinations was well researched, well written, and well chosen. Carson looks at 5 passages that really examine the meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection. From Matthew to Romans, it was a great read. Now, it not devotional in nature. So, the truths are meant to be inspiring in themselves. Carson is making no attempt to couch them in self help language to make the reader feel better about themselves. This is not clever. It instead is true. And that is my kind of reading.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead us by Seth Godin
It's alright. I can imagine this being life changing for some people. Some people need to be told to stand up and do something. To try. To have faith. The book is set up like Colin Powell's Leadership Axioms. Little clever observations to live by. So there are no chapters in this book. It's a bunch of snack size candy bars. But I like eating the King Size. So. Not awful. Not great. Some may love it. An easy read for an afternoon.
The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson
This was a very uneven read for me. I am an artistic sort, and I like a good meandering walk through a life. But I guess if a life is small, I want it to be paired with the most beautiful of prose. And this had neither.
There were times when the author would speak about his views of reality, and then I would sit up and take notice. His observations were astute and had some real conviction behind them. So much so that I thought the book was going to be a meditation on the life in the pastoral ministry. And sometimes it was. And other times it was just a person meandering through the world smelling flowers.
And I guess that is his point. That the pastoral life is just a life. But the way the book was arranged I found myself loving the parts about the work, and being bored with the parts that were just "living." I guess I had a different expectation.
If you like travel fiction, reading journals, or meandering through the written word, then you may very well love this. But if you enjoy your stories with movement, conflict, revelation, and drama... then this is not going to be for you.
So... not awful. But not great either.
Biblical Eldership by Alexander Stauch
This is the single greatest book I have ever read on church governance. After years of reading the Bible and knowing there was something there, but I have never had the time nor energy to take all that truth and ask the question; how did God intend the church to be led? I have always felt uneasy with the models I have seen used throughout my life. The book is Biblical. It is well researched. It is well written. It is true. And I am thankful for it. It has given me a new commitment to lead the church I belong to in a more biblical and God-honoring way. I look forward to not being a king, and instead being one among many leaders.