Book Reviews

Top 10 Books for 2016

In this year end podcast, Gene and Kelly each discuss the top 5 books they read in 2016. Here is the list of 10 books. Click on the title of the book and order your copy today.

  1. THE 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling 1. Focus on the wildly important. 2. Act on the lead measures. 3. Keep a compelling scoreboard. 4. Create a cadence of accountability.

  2. INSTINCT by TD Jakes Giraffes eat from tree tops and rarely drop their heads for anything but water. Cousins to the Camels, if they dropped their heads more often they would lose their balance. They don’t get their nourishment on grass level with turtles. They learn to avoid the clamour of what’s happening at ground level.  In leadership it’s best to eat from higher thoughts than lower ones. Leaders with a limited level of sight can’t be expected to see what leaders with a higher level of sight gain in perspective and wisdom.  Our opinions and vision is usually based on our perspective.Whatever stimulates us gives us energy and helps us be our best. Feed on what feeds your dream. We must live to unpack our inventory of uniqueness.

  3. THE SPIRIT CONTEMPORARY LIFE by Leon FontaineThe thing to realize as you pray for people is that when Holy Spirit works, it’s not really about you. It’s not about your ability or lack thereof. The more you realize that, the more free you will feel to step into other’s lives to help, and the more you will communicate and act in a way that effectively reaches others.Being Spirit Contemporary isn’t hard. All you really need is to do two things: respect people and follow Holy Spirit’s lead.You can be Spirit Contemporary and change the wrapper (how you share the message) while leaving the gift (Jesus) intact.Being Spirit Contemporary isn’t about pleasing people so they will like you. It’s about being so confident, strong, and secure in your identity as a child of God that people notice the difference in your life and are attracted to you as you direct them toward Jesus.

  4. UNTHINK by Eric Wahl An “artist” Is anyone who challenges the conventional wisdom and inspires change that creates new channels of problem solving and innovating.5 things that help us rediscover our creative genius: 1.  Curiosity - As a child you had two things on your agenda: exploration and creation.  2.  Discovery - is the Holy Grail of childhood 3.  Conviction - the sooner we start working with the conviction that we can be creative, the sooner we recapture our sense of wonder. Don’t live wearing the mask of other’s  the convictions. Ask yourself: What makes me come alive? People unite behind people of conviction. 4.  Acceleration - Jack Welch said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” 5. Spontaneity -  Spontaneity inspires. Spontaneity is the bridge to mystery…and mystery opens our eyes to new possibilities.  Spontaneity counterbalances your left brain’s cry for safety and predictability. Our left brain tells us that our days are easiest when we know what to expect.  But our right brain reminds us that our days are inspiring only when we venture into the unknown.

  5. THE IDEAL TEAM PLAYER by Patrick Lencioni  Ideal team players possess adequate measures of humility, hunger, and people smarts. They have little ego when it comes to needing attention or credit for their contributions, and they are comfortable sharing their accolades or even occasionally missing out on them. Ideal team players work with a sense of energy, passion, and personal responsibility, taking on whatever they possibly can for the good of the team. Finally, they say and do the right things to help teammates feel appreciated, understood, and included, even when difficult situations arise that require tough love.

  6. TALK LIKE TED by Carmine Gallo    “The great truths of the world have often been couched in fascinating stories.” ~ Dale CarnegieThe ability to tell a personal story is the essential trait of an authentic leader. Make it personal.  Take the audience on a journey. If you want to be quoted, tell a story. An audience wants someone or something to cheer for. They want to be inspired. Captivate their imagination with a story. We can only reach minds if we first touch hearts.

  7. UNQUALIFIED by Steven Furtick    This is a book about understanding your identity in light of who God us. It’s a book about coming to terms with the good, the bad, and the unmentionable in your life and learning to let God use you.

  8. THE WRIGHT BROTHERS by David McCullough   The Wright Brothers believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it would change the world, they imagined that it would benefit everyone else if they were successful. It was the Wright Brothers passion that took them where no one had ever gone.

  9. THROUGH THE EYES OF A LION by Levi Lusko    The best book I’ve read on how to handle grief. The story of Pastor Levi and Jenny and the loss of their young daughter Lenya 4 years ago and how they learned to anchor their faith in God despite a devastating tragedy.

  10. FAILING FORWARD by John Maxwell“The difference between average people and achievers is their perception and response to failure.”

FAILING BACKWARD Blame others Repeat the same mistakes Expect never to fail again Expect to continually fail Accept tradition blindly Limit themselves by their past mistakes Think to themselves:  “I’m a failure” Quitting

FAILING FORWARD Take responsibility Learn from each mistake Know failure is part of a process Maintain a positive attitude Challenge outdated assumptions Take new risks Believe something didn’t work Persevering

No matter how difficult your problems are, the key to overcoming them is not changing your circumstances, but changing yourself.



The 30 Books Every Pastor Should Read

I love to read! I try to maintain a 1-book per week pace, and because of that, I am often asked "what's the best book you've read lately?" So here you go! Here's a list of the 30 most influential books I've read to date that have helped me as a pastor and a leader. If you click on the title of the book that interests you it will take you directly to where you can order a copy of your own. Remember, leaders are readers. Enjoy!

My top 30 in alphabetical order:

  1. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley

  2. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

  3. Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels

  4. Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven System for Building Your Own Team of Champions by Daniel Harkavy

  5. Church Planting: God's Plan for Transformation by George Hill

  6. Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley

  7. Covenant Relationships by George Hill

  8. Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration by Dr. Sam Chand

  9. Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley

  10. Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracey

  11. Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth by Dr. Sam Chand

  12. Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community by Donald Clifton

  13. No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church by John Burke

  14. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller

  15. Passing the Leadership Baton: A Winning Transition Plan for Your Ministry by Tom Mullins

  16. Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren

  17. Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger

  18. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

  19. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team And Staff On The Same Page by Larry Osborne

  20. Surprising Insights From The Unchurched And Proven Ways To Reach Them by Thom Rainer

  21. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John Maxwell

  22. The Big Idea: Aligning the Ministries of Your Church through Creative Collaboration by Dave Ferguson

  23. The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma

  24. The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy

  25. One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard

  26. The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness by Stephen K. Scott

  27. Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrows Success by John Maxwell

  28. Visioneering: God's Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision by Andy Stanley

  29. Volunteer Revolution by Bill Hybels

  30. Winning on Purpose: How to Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission by John Kaiser

The Top 5 Books I Read in 2013

Well, today in my home town, we are experiencing a "snow day." Over the last 24 hours we have had three or four feet of snow dumped on us and therefore it has become nearly impossible to drive anywhere. So, instead of going to the office today, I am stuck at home. This has given me some time to reflect on this last year and in particular on some of the amazing books I've read and the impact they've had on me in 2013. Here is a list of the top 5 books I read in 2013:

1. GREATER by STEVEN FURTICK51Ie-DS2stL._SL75_This book is a fantastic study on the life of the prophet Elisha. Steven Furtick does a masterful job of making the life of the old prophet come alive while at the same time making the ancient story relevant to the call on each of our lives. If you are needing to clarify your call or need to come alive in your purpose and destiny again, this is a must read! Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

2. JESUS IS by JUDAH SMITH41APHFT0zoL._SL75_Jesus Is is an amazing look at our Savior and what Christianity is really about. There are many interpretations of the Bible and of the life of Jesus, and many of them are not flattering, but this book looks at the life of Jesus and His message in a raw and real perspective. This book is a must read for anyone who loves Jesus or is exploring His amazing life and teachings. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

3. CRUCIAL CONFRONTATIONS by KERRY PATTERSON512wXQ+I4bL._SL75_Crucial Confrontations may have been the most impacting book of the year for me and my staff. I have put the teachings of this book into practice nearly everyday since I read it. The results have been amazing! In my opinion, this may be the most important communication book you will ever read. It is must read for every leader! Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

4. GREAT BY CHOICE by JIM COLLINS419oM1kcjBL._SL75_Jim Collins book Good to Great was a massive hit and while it took a while, this sequel well worth the wait. With over 10 years of data to back up his finding, Collins delivers a masterpiece for leaders and businesses that explores why some companies survive uncertainty, even chaos and others do not. This is a much read for every business or church leader, because we all have to navigate rough waters from time to time in our unpredictable, fast-moving society. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

5. UNTHINK by ERIK WAHL418WTA5VFuL._SL75_Unthink asks a lot of tough questions for us analytical people. Erik Wahl explores creativity and in particular how to find a balance between logic and artistry. While most of us tend to lean toward one bend or the other, Wahl describes vividly how to bring out the best of both in your daily life and giftedness. This will unlock a side of you you forgot you had and will bring creativity to life in your every day experiences. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

Question: What were some of your favorite books in 2013? Please leave a comment in the Leave a Reply box below. Thank you!

The Top 5 Books I Read in 2012

Here is a list of the top 5 books I read in 2012.

  1. deep&wideDeep & Wide by Andy Stanley.

    Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley may be the most amazing book I have ever read! In a very vulnerable way, Stanley tells of how Northpoint Community Church began as a split from his father's church to become one of America's largest churches. I ordered this book for all of my board and staff and we are using it as a playbook for much of our systems and structures. Truly a must read if you desire to create a church that attracts the unchurched. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

  2. culturebookCracking Your Churches Culture Code by Dr. Sam Chand.

    Culture is more powerful than vision and it even trumps mission. In a very simple and clear way, Dr. Sam Chand describes what culture is and how to create and manage a healthy culture in your church. If you have ever been frustrated when a new vision does not take off or gain the traction you envisioned it would, you have to read this book. Again, this was one that I ordered for my entire staff. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

  3. stickyteamsSticky Teams by Larry Osborne.

    Sticky Teams was recommended to me by my associate Pastor, John Albiston. He recommended it as a great book to deal with the board/staff relationships. And he was right. This book did not disappoint! In a very blunt and honest way, Pastor Larry Osborne delivers clear instruction on how to create unity and focus among a board and staff. We went through this book with our board and it has made a marked difference in our team dynamic and in the quality of our meetings. Every pastor and their board should read this book. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

  4. goalsGoals by Brian Tracey.

    I have yet to read a book that clarified how to set goals, and why they are vital in the life of every human being. This book made a huge personal impact on me. I read it at the beginning of 2012 and as I look back on this past year, I can honestly say it was one of my most productive and effective years ever. And I largely credit the principles I learned and applied from this book. Every one should read this book! Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

  5. 5levelsofleadershipThe 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell.

    I have long been a fan of Dr. Maxwell's leadership books, but The 5 Levels of Leadership is by far his best to date! Every leader or aspiring leader should read this book. I ordered this one for each of my staff and we took more than 2 months going through it as a team in our weekly staff meetings. It transformed the way we lead and resulted in a much deeper pool of leaders in our organization. I highly recommend reading this book and going through it with your team. Get a great price and order your own copies today by CLICKING HERE.

Question: What were some of your favorite books in 2012? Please leave a comment in the Leave a Reply box below. Thank you.

The Books I've Ordered for My Staff (and why you should, too)

Every once in a while I will read an amazing book that I feel will greatly benefit our team. I have made a habit of ordering a copy for each of our staff and some of our key volunteers. Often these books speak directly to an issue we are facing and the benefit of reading a book all together is that we can exponentially speed up the process of coming to a consensus solution. Sometimes we will walk through chapters of the book together in our staff meetings allowing for ample discussion time. This is a great way to grow together. I'd highly recommend this as a great team growth strategy.

Here are the books I have ordered for my staff to read this year:

  1. Simple Church by Thom Rainer One of the best books written on the systems of discipleship. This book enabled us to get on the same page when it came to creating a simplified process of discipleship. We were struggling with our hand-offs, especially in getting our new believers to the next step of discipleship. How to create movement was our primary aim and this book delivered a phenomenal plan to do just that.
  2. Goals by Brian Tracey A dream without a goal is simply a fantasy. We definitely had a dream for our church, but our team needed help in setting specific and accurate goals. Tracey's book is the absolute best book I've ever read for goal setting. It helped me immensely in my personal goal setting and I felt that it would translate well to setting more accurate goals as a church. To date, the results have been amazing. We are right on target with our 5 year goal and this has given us tremendous focus and confidence in our corporate decision making.
  3. 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell In my opinion this is the best of Maxwell's writings, and that is saying something! After I read this book, I knew this was one our team could definitely benefit from. We needed more leaders, and we needed our team to be reproducing leaders. In our staff meetings we focused on teaching levels 3 and 4. Level 3 leaders produce results but level 4 leaders produce other leaders. This is what we needed. After reading this book and teaching through these chapters, our team immediately expanded and each of our key leaders began mentoring others.
  4. Cracking Your Church's Culture Code by Samuel Chand This book describes the power of culture. It's more powerful than vision. When I read this book, I felt like it was written just for us. It described step by step the transitions we had been going through. I felt it's main benefit was giving us patience with the time it takes to develop a strong, healthy culture. It also put a language to some of the cultural battles we were continually facing and this helped us more easily identify the problem and therefore solve is more quickly.
  5. Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne I ordered this book for our board. This book does a great job of explaining the often complicated relationship between the board, the staff, and the congregation. Although I feel it comes too strong from a congregational style leadership approach, it does contain great insight and ideas that will help develop strong covenant relationships between the key leaders in your church.

To order these books today, simply click on the title and you will be taken to where you can place your order immediately.