Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Building Your Leadership Library

My friend Josh Evans recently posted a list of leadership books that he recommends. His list was good (although I haven't read most of them), but I think he left a few excellent titles off. Because of that, I decided to create a list of my own.

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler.

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey.

The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker by Brad Lomenick.

Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley.

Of course, my list and Josh's list don't completely exhaust the topic of leadership. However, our lists are a great place to start if you want to get serious about improving your leadership abilities.

So, Apparently I'm Too Conservative?!?

I found out last night that I'm too conservative. What exactly does that mean? Is it possible for a person to be too conservative?

  • Is a person too conservative if he loves Jesus first and foremost?
  • Is a person too conservative if he puts a strong emphasis on the Bible?
  • Is a person too conservative if he believes there is a certain way to live, according to the Bible?
  • Is a person too conservative if he wants to see people put their faith in Christ?
  • Is a person too conservative if he wants to see a youth group grow and reach other students?
  • Is a person too conservative if he thinks that "the way we've always done it" isn't necessarily the best way?

If the things above make a person "too conservative," then, yeah, I guess I am. And I'm not apologizing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review - The Gospel Call and True Conversion by Paul Washer

Paul Washer is the author of The Gospel Call and True Conversion. This is a book that examines what true conversion looks like. So many are plagued with the “easy belief” that is so prevalent in our society. This is especially true in youth ministry, where too often becoming a Christian becomes nothing more than just praying a prayer and putting on a tie.

Right off the bat, Washer lays out eight characteristics of genuine repentance. These characteristics are:

  • Change of mind
  • Sorrow for sin
  • Personal acknowledgment and confession of sin
  • Turning away from sin
  • Renunciation of self-righteousness or good works
  • Turning to God
  • Practical obedience
  • Continuing and deepening work of repentance

The book is broken into three parts. Part One is The Gospel Call, detailing salvation. Part Two is New Hearts and the Nature of True Conversion. Part Three is New People and the Nature of True Conversion.

I would recommend this particular book, if for nothing other than the opening section dealing with what genuine repentance looks like. As I said above, this is an area of deep concern and necessary focus in youth ministry. This is an excellent resource for helping youth workers understand what true conversion looks like, though it may be a bit over the heads of the teenagers they are working with.

Purchase your copy of The Gospel Call and True Conversion from Amazon.com. The Kindle version is also available.

I received The Gospel Call and True Conversion for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review - Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

From time to time, I like to read books that strike my interest. They can be business books, leadership books, or just interesting non-fiction titles. The book that I just finished reading was Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. This is a book about why certain things die on the vine and other things go viral, even if they seem extremely ridiculous.

Dr. Berger has broken down the idea of going viral into six different areas. They seemed simple, but, as I look back on them, I can completely understand where he is coming from. I guess that is why he gets the big money.

The six areas are as follows:
  • Social Currency - We share things that make us look good or help us compare favorably to others.
  • Triggers – Ideas that are top of mind spread.
  • Emotion – When we care, we share.
  • Public – People tend to follow others, but only when they can see what those others are doing.
  • Practical – Humans crave the opportunity to give advice and offer tips
  • Stories - People do not just share information, they tell stories.
I am reviewing this book here because there are so many implications for making the Gospel go viral. For example, if students are aware of the emotions dealing with their friends and relatives on their way to eternity without Christ, they will be more likely to share the Gospel with those individuals. If they have a story of life change, they will share that story with others.

I realize that Dr. Berger did not write this Contagious: Why Things Catch On for ministry. However, there are so many ideas and tactics in the book that I think it is a must-read for youth pastors and others who want to make the Gospel go viral.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Are You Called to Ministry?

Last week I wrote an article on three things to do if you feel that you are being called to ministry. I came across an article by Dr. Albert Mohler that addresses this issue as well. It was an excellent read on the topic and goes along with what I wrote in my post. Here is an excerpt: Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the Church as pastors and other ministers. Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor, “it is a fine work he aspires to do” (1 Tim 3:1, NASB). Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the Church. How do you know if God is calling you? If you would like to read more, please visit his site for the full article.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homosexuality and Youth Ministry

With the recent Supreme Court decisions about same-sex marriage, the issue of homosexuality is going to be a big topic in the church for quite some time. Because the teenage years are the formative years for sexuality, it is vital that a youth pastor be prepared to minister to the gay teenagers that will inevitably begin showing up in youth group.

Some time ago, I recommended a book written by my friend Shawn Harrison. Shawn wrote Ministering to Gay Teenagers as a resource for youth leaders. When Shawn gave a presentation on this topic at SYMC 2013, the copies of the book sold out quickly.I read it in an afternoon, so it is a quick read, but it is packed with important guidelines for sharing Christ's love. I can't recommend this book anymore highly. It is a tool that every youth pastor must have.

Buy your copy at Amazon.com.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Three Places I Wanted to Visit At Disney World

The Disney World resort is huge. We were there for seven days (five days in the parks) and there was still a lot of stuff that we weren't able to do. I think if we had spent all five days at just the Magic Kingdom, we still wouldn't have been able to do everything. Here are three places that I wanted to visit while we were at Disney World that are at the top of my list the next time we go.

The first place is Casey's Corner. This is a little restaurant at the end of Main Street when you come into the Magic Kingdom. It is right where you come into the big "open" area in front of the castle. Outside the restaurant are statues of old-timey baseball players. I saw a video about the best place to get snacks and Casey's Corner was one of those places. We walked by it, but there was always a big crowd inside, so we were never able to stop and grab a bite. I thought about doing it the night we went for the fireworks and parade, but there were so many people that I couldn't even wiggle or someone would take my spot.

The second place is Tom Sawyer's Island. To be honest, I don't really know much about this spot. I read and heard that it is pretty exciting and you have to take a boat to get there. I really love the book Tom Sawyer and have always wanted to be a part of the Tom Sawyer adventure. We didn't make it over there because our boys had a limited amount of energy and there was a lot they wanted to do. I got them to go on the Jungle Cruise and Pirates, but then it was off to the Dumbo ride (and the really awesome playground) and It's a Small World. Next time, we are definitely going to check it out.

The third place is the Haunted Mansion. I've heard really good things about this ride and I do enjoy a creepy ride from time to time. My kids are pretty small (the oldest is 7), so this didn't seem like a good idea for this trip. Our plan is to try for a trip down in about 2-3 years, so (hopefully) at least one of the boys can ride with me. If not, I'll go by myself. But definitely doing this one next time.

I realize that all of these places are in the Magic Kingdom. There are a lot of other places that I want to visit, particularly in Epcot. I guess I will need to visit Disney a lot in order to do everything.

What places do you want to visit, but never made it to?

A great resource to find out about the Walt Disney resort and all of the wonderful places to visit is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2013. We used it to plan our trip and it was incredible.