2014 Book Reviews

I didn’t read a lot of books in 2014. For the latter half of 2014, I have been involved in searching for a new pastor for our church, and helping to lead the church through that process. Consequently, I spent some time reading specifically about the search process and lots of resumes. Some of these books were very short; which actually seemed quite appropriate for the subject. Here are the books I read (at least partially), roughly in order of preference:

The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen – This book received a lot of attention in its genre, so I started to read it. I haven’t finished this book yet, but I have been very impressed with it. I came to the book with a bit of skepticism about the difficulty of showing that criminal justice work can really compete with other charitable efforts in efficacy of helping the poor, but I will certainly admit that I found Haugen’s statistics, research, and arguments are very compelling. This is naturally a subject where it is very hard to precisely determine cause and effect, but the stories of outrageous injustice against the poor, and the case for providing a better legal system (that we take for granted) is powerful.

Pagan Christianity – I read this book, as we were in the midst of a church transition, and I wanted to re-examine some of the foundational ideas of how church works. This book provides some provocative critiques of practices of the modern church, and how they have likely originated more from various cultural (and even pagan) traditions, than from scriptures. While I think we can positively redeem many of modern church practices that are criticized, the critiques and suggestions are indeed very valuable for shaping a church around Biblical guidance instead of just cultural expectations.

When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search: Biblical Principles and Practices to Guide Your Search – This is a longer book about finding a pastor, that was helpful for specifics of things like handling resumes and coordinating a candidating visit. I had some chuckles at how this book was obviously written specifically for Calvary Chapel churches and their culture, including addressing topics like whether or not you could ever consider a pastor who has given a topical sermon at some point in their life (fortunately grace can be extended for such a grievous sin). However, beyond these rather amusing idiosyncrasies, the book offered some good practical details on many of the processes involved, which was certainly beneficial.

Overrated by Eugene Cho – The core message of this book is certainly important and noteworthy: that we need to be engaged in living sacrificial lives, and not just talking about it. However, I didn’t really enjoy the style of this book. The author seemed to be trying too hard to be trendy in his references to social and popular media. The author transparently offered some good life experiences learning to live out his faith, but the core message didn’t really take that long to say, and almost felt like a greatly expounded tweet.

The New Breed – Second Edition: Understanding & Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer – I read this with church leadership to consider how to recruit more volunteers. This had some good tips on how to engage and encourage with different generations, but overall wasn’t particularly memorable.

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