So how do you pass the time while driving across the country for over 16 hours? You read a book out loud to the driver and discuss its content. This is what Steve and I did on our way back to northern IL. From cover to cover we shared our thoughts about Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. Some of you may read that and say, "That's great! Andy Stanley is my hero!" Others want to know why I would read a ministry book using yet another baseball analogy. The truth is, these are the kinds of books I have to force myself to read, and are the books I actually need to be reading.
The Puritans, theological works and books on piety are things I am always enthusiastically working through. But I need help thinking through much of the organizational aspects of ministry, and books like this can be a great help.
Of course Steve and I can't read through a book like this without wincing at some of the ways things are said. But that does not mean I can't learn from the leadership of these authors on many principle levels. 7 Practices proved to be an encouraging and thought provoking book as we talked through its pages during the long car ride home.
Of course, it is not a book establishing the foundational theology necessary to build a healthy church. It is not a book the gets into the nature of worship or discipleship. It is not devotional. It is a book that forces you to ask a lot of probing questions concerning what is happening at your church. Of course it lays out some helpful, general, practices that can compliment and improve the ministry of even some young, reformed, missional, pastors who are struggling in the 'burbs. I plan on revisiting the book next week and may share a few thoughts.