At the end of last year, I asked the rest of the staff here at WestWay for some lists of what had impacted them over the past 12 months or so. I intended to make it sort of an end of the year summary, but that went the way of most of my family Christmas letters and was unfinished until now. Instead of just giving you a list of stuff we read, maybe this can open a discussion in your own life. What's God been showing you lately? What's He using to do that?
I asked each of the guys, "What authors/books stood out to you from this year's reading? How did God use them to shape your heart and your ministry? What speakers is God using in your life right now?" I want to share with you below some of what God has been showing us. Some of these resources would be a great place for you to continue your own growth as well. Get a few friends together and dig in.
Joe replied that he'd enjoyed an online audio series on the book of Revelation. The series was led by Shane Wood and can be found here in the free audio resources section. I also know that Joe enjoyed Mark Moore's Acts series that can be found at that same site a while back. If you're looking for some great teaching about the early church, and what it means to us 2000 years later, this is a great place to start. Joe also spent some time this year listening to messages from Francis Chan and Mark Driscoll, and he commented that "Their love and passion for taking Christ to the lost is contagious."
In his reading this year, Joe mentioned Soul Cravings from Erwin McManus, Elijah from Charles Swindoll, and Max on Life from Max Lucado. He noted that what stood out in these books was how God is in control and we can be willing even when we don't understand all the details of what He's doing.
Willie noted Max DePree's Leading Without Power, Jim Putman's Church is a Team Sport, Mike Cope's One Holy Hunger, and Juan Carlos Ortiz's Disciple. He said he was also encouraged or challenged by messages from Shane Philip of The Crossing in Las Vegas, Andy Stanley of North Point, Steven Furtick from Elevation Church, Erwin McManus of Mosaic, Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill, and Tom Gerdts of Rockingham Christian Church.
Shane said that 4 books came to mind:
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning was a great reminder that God's love and grace are so much bigger than our self-doubt and hate and shame. He desires the best for us.
Radical from David Platt and Sun Stand Still from Steven Furtick were both used to teach that God is strong and mighty and desires us to join Him in His holy plan. We need to follow and obey to the best of our abilities and depend on Him for the impossible.
Activate from Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas was a very practical book in planning for small groups ministry.
Marshall said, "I only read the red letters." Just kidding - he didn't say that at all. He did mention Celebration of Discipline from Foster, which he called the "best spiritual growth book I have studied," and Terry Bowland's Make Disciples (which offered some help understanding some steps to grow in our own discipline & help others at the same time).
For my own part, I'd put Platt's Radical at the top of the list. I haven't commented much about this book here because I'm still chewing on the implications, but this was definitely the highest impact book I read this year. It's very challenging to someone like me whose grown up in the church and just accepted as normal some things that Jesus would probably rather do without in His church. The American Dream has blurred the vision of the North American church in ways that we have to correct. Now. What kingdom are we working to build? This is a great book that you should read.
I also liked 10 Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing from Geoff Surratt. If you're serving the church in any kind of leadership capacity, it's a good look at some things to avoid. I posted more about it in a series of posts
I didn't ask about it, but if I had added film category, Love Costs Everything would be at the top of my list. It's an eye opening look at what it's like to follow Jesus in parts of the world where doing so is not the norm, but rather is a dangerous & persecuted act. We'll be showing the film here at WestWay on March 11th.
"Love Costs Every Thing" Trailer from CIY Move on Vimeo.
If I had to pick a theme from all of this from our staff, it would be digging in to the question of what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus. Pray with me that in 2012 we'll continue digging and finding what God wants to show us.
So, what's God teaching you?