This book is fiction – however, the reality that it suggests makes it one of the most meaningful books that I have ever read (click here)…
Category Archives: Book Reviews
Business guru Seth Godin encourages everyone to step up to the plate as leaders – leaders, as he puts it, of their own individual tribes. Tribes are no longer local – the internet has allowed groups to come together easily and organize – people from all over the world. Godin insists that each of us has a niche to lead in this new new world, and that the world will suffer if each person doesn’t figure out what they’re supposed to lead & get busy!
Godin’s writing style is like his personality – a mile a minute, and what ever happens to come to his mind immediately comes out. I liked “Tribes” – it was an easy read, it contained some interesting insights, and it was fun. Before I give my rating, I will confess to a bias towards books (especially if they are of the leadership variety) which have action steps and practical “how-to” ideas. This didn’t really have any (or not many). But it did make me think, so I’m not sorry I read it.
My rating: 3.5
You know, I almost didn’t read this book… I picked it up with a pile of other books from the library one week, and it almost went back unopened. That would have been a very real shame, because this book is one of the best short books on leadership that I have ever read!
Author Steve Farber weaves his truths into a story that is half business fable and half mystery. He tells the tale of a consultant who runs into a strange set of characters and circumstances, as he wrestles with various challenges – both external and internal.
The book is PG in it’s language – this is not a specifically Christian book, and Farber is obviously trying to represent reality in his story. It’s kind of a bummer, because the language doesn’t really make it seem any more real. The “mystery” part is fun, but not earth-shattering. What’s big here is the message – and, to give a hint – it’s all about love!
Solid advice and action steps make this both a practical and philosophical winner – top notch!
4.8 out of 5 stars!
“Integrity” by Henry Cloud
This really isn’t a book specifically about creative worship (or uncreative worship). It’s a book about personal integrity, obviously, given the title. However, the book is also very helpful when you’re thinking about how to plan services – especially why other people are sometimes cranky about your ideas and music choices.It also reminds us of the fact that we’re imperfect people who do not (and CAN not) control the universe.
In all seriousness, Henry Cloud has great insight – it’s a very good book for anyone who leads a team of any sort. It’s really aimed at businesspeople, but the ideas are all transferable. Good audio book version, too. 4 out of 5 stars
“How To Get Ideas,” by Jack Foster, is about…well, how to get ideas. It starts, though, with encouraging the readers to go back to how they solved problems and learned things when they were children – by asking “why?” Foster asserts that we often get stuck by just assuming that we pretty much do things the best way that they can be done, and so we miss possibilities that are right in front of us.
The book is divided into two main sections. The first section is entitled “Ten Ways to Idea-Condition Your Mind,” and it deals with unlearning routines and assumptions that have us hemmed in. Part two – “A Five-Step Method for Producing Ideas” – gets into the nitty-gritty of problem solving. It’s good stuff – lots of practical ideas, lots of grass roots wisdom and lots of real-life examples.
I took the book to Japan this last summer as light travel reading, and found that it was chock full of ideas that I could put to use right away. A key concept that I’ve tried to incorporate with my own team since that time is that for many problems, there is no single right answer – there might be eight right answers, or thirty-eight, or a hundred and eight! Instead of asking my creative team members to come up with an idea, I ask for multiple ideas. It frees up our thinking, and keeps us from getting too possessive about any individual idea (because there’s more where those came from). 4.5 out of 5 stars.
“The Big Idea,” put together by Dave Ferguson and the guys up at Community Christian in Chicago, specifically addresses an issue that I feel is draining the potential effectiveness of many modern churches – scatterbrainedness (or multitasking, if you prefer a more optimistic moniker)! That’s basically the idea that you can be all things to all people all the time, and we all know how THAT all works…
The Big Idea takes things in the exact opposite direction. There’s one primary concept – one. That one concept drives the weekend. In Dave’s perfect world, every element of the worship service would support the Big Idea – music, visuals, handouts, even announcements. As a former teacher, I wholeheartedly agree with Dave’s approach. Teaching “sticks” much better if you get the core concept across first – and sticks WAY better if you are able to come at that concept in a bunch of different ways.
The book also contains some very useful sections on supporting the big idea through advance planning, meeting structures, evaluation and multi-site integration – but back to the big idea of the book… One of the primary reasons that I really resonate with the big idea approach is that it’s centered on what the congregation is interacting with, rather than what we are trying to push at them. People’s worlds are cluttered up enough without us trying to throw ten different things at them in a service! OK, off the soapbox and on to a rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars.
“The Spark,” by Lyn Heward and John U Bacon, is a quick, easy read focused on an organization that should be no stranger to we creative types (us creative types?) – Cirque du Soliel. The mighty Cirque is profiled through the semi-autobiographical story of an average (?) man who is offered the chance to go through the rigorous training that all Cirque performers experience.
The heart of the message here is that creativity isn’t just a gift that God has bestowed upon a few, leaving the rest of us to more mundane pursuits (note that this book is secular in nature, and does not come from a faith perspective). It’s really the work ethic that makes things – even highly creative things – happen: the willingness to just get up and try again and again. The book might be summed up best by it’s quote of cartoonist Al Hirschfield on pg. 112: “Everybody is creative, and everybody is talented. I just don’t think that everybody is disciplined.”
The big picture: An engaging story, an inspiring and personal challenge. 4 out of 5 stars.