Notes from the leadership journey!

Category Archives: Books

“Breaking the Missional Code”

I recently read Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. The book aims to help churches become missionaries in their communities.

According to the authors, “breaking the code … means discovering the principles that work in every context, selecting the tools most relevant for your context … and then learning to apply them in a missionally effective manner. It means thinking missiologically” (2).

For many churches, “missions” simply means supporting missionaries and ministries in other countries, but “missional thinking means doing missions everywhere” (3), including our local communities, as well as other countries.

Our local communities in the United States are becoming greater mission fields. In all mission fields there are barriers that have to be crossed. Stetzer and Putman state, “Breaking the code means that we have to recognize that there are cultural barriers (in addition to spiritual ones) that blind people from understanding the gospel” (4). Breaking the code is about finding ways to bridge those barriers.

Bridging the barriers begins with love. If we’re going to reach our communities with the good news of Jesus Christ, we must love people.

You cannot grow a biblically faithful church without loving people and preaching the gospel. But loving people means understanding and communicating with them. Preaching the gospel means to proclaim a gospel about the Word becoming flesh—and proclaiming that the body of Christ needs to become incarnate in every cultural expression. (15)

The part of the book that will stick with me the most are the four phrases that describe the church’s mission. The authors state, “Jesus gave four directives that outline the missional mandate of the church” (30) …

  • We are sent (John 20.21)
  • To all kinds of people (Matthew 28.18-20)
  • With a message (Luke 24.46-48)
  • Empowered by the Spirit (Acts 1.6-8)

Indeed, we are sent to all kinds of people with a message, empowered by the Holy Spirit!

“Finding Our Way”

Earlier this year, United Methodist leaders published Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church, edited by Bishop Rueben P. Job and Neil M. Alexander. Several bishops each contributed a chapter, including … Enforce (Gregory V. Palmer) Emend (Hope Morgan Ward) Disobey (Melvin G. Talbert) Disarm (Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.) Order (J.…Continue →

“Replenish”

Two years ago, I started reading Replenish by Lance Witt. I chose the book because of my experiences with stress (see Hitting the Wall, which includes links to other parts of the story). The Leadership Team at Centre Grove also spent several months reading and discussing the book. There’s a lot of helpful content in…Continue →

Character, Competence, & Chemistry

I’ve been familiar with these terms for a while. These three Cs—Character, Competence, and Chemistry—are critically important for teams, including church ministry teams! I was reminded of this again lately as I’m reading slowly through Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels. The book includes brief sections on 76 different concepts, including a chapter…Continue →

“Shaped By God’s Heart”

I recently read Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea. I should have included this book in my doctoral dissertation (how leaders shape missional culture), but I missed it! Minatrea’s definition of a missional church is … a reproducing community of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent…Continue →

“The Externally Focused Church”

I just read The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson (2004). It’s a good book about the church in action through service. Rusaw and Swanson suggest, “Externally focused churches are internally strong, but they are oriented externally” (17). They are “convinced that good deeds and good news can’t and shouldn’t be separated”…Continue →

Moving From ASAP to ALAT!

One of my favorite books is The Circle Maker. That should come as no surprise. I’ve written seven posts about the book (last one here, with links to the previous ones). In the book, Batterson writes … Maybe one of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach. When our prayers aren’t…Continue →

“The CEB Study Bible”

I grew up in a denomination that only read and approved the King James Version of the Bible, and viewed other translations with a great deal of skepticism. But in seminary, I began to read, enjoy, and prefer modern translations (that was also during a time when several translations were developed, including God’s Word, the…Continue →

“The Seed”

The latest book by Jon Gordon that I’ve read is The Seed (see previous posts on The Energy Bus and Training Camp). The Seed is about helping you find your purpose in life and at work. The book is a fable centered around Josh, a talented young man who has lost his passion at work.…Continue →

“Direct Hit”

Several years ago, Paul Borden consulted with the leaders of the Susquehanna Conference. The Matthew 28 Initiative, a strategy for transforming congregations, developed out of that experience (read more at Growing Effective Churches). I’ve written about Centre Grove UMC’s experience with Matthew 28: see Transforming Congregations Through the Matthew 28 Initiative (the before) and The…Continue →