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Communicating for Change…not just for sermons…

16/03/2013 Comments off

Thank you christianaudio.com for the opportunity to review this work, and as always for investing in my spiritual walk.

Communicating for a Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones, Colorado Springs:
Multnomah, 2013. AudioBook narrated by Lloyd James.

When you communicate is it for change or wasting oxygen?  If you could only have one point and confine it to one point could you do it?  What if everything you have been taught about putting together a sermon (discipleship, teaching, public speaking, or just dialoguing with someone) was wrong?  This 2010 book finally made it to audio and bring to life story and application in two parts.  First, a pastor wants to improve his Sunday delivery and he meets a trucker that will change his life.  Second, Andy and Lane outline the principles in application for those who need lists.

I found this audio interesting in that I am not preaching every Sunday, but yet I am dialoging with folks all the time and this really challenged my thinking in this area.  It challenged my desire to fire hose people and instead focus on one point.  Whether it is in engaging in good questions or communicating for change.  This audio enlightened me in thinking that just because I wasn’t preaching, I could benefit from a critique of my communication methods.  I don’t know if I am asked to preach again, if I would put the outline together like this, but it would definitely influence a one point fallen-condition-focus in my next one.  

I felt like for the first part of the book reading the One-Minute Manager, which caused me to rewind and listen multiple times, however I picked up more in the second half of the audiobook as it focused on application. 

The outline of the method being described is:  Determine your goal; pick a point; create a map; internalize the message; engage your audience; find your voice; start all over (Me, We, God, You, We).  I would also add that the next step…implication is going to take some mediation, thinking and asking good questions for the dynamics I have in my life.  For 196-pages of the book, Lloyd James did an excellent narration which was presented in a cohesive and yet appealing manner.  This book although mentioned scripture and had some sprinkled through it was not an exegesis.  The most gracious comment I could share about the work would be that implications were made that pointed to Christ sharing one-point versus bulleted-sermons and handouts.  Would I recommend this book to others?  Maybe.  It is not a MacArthur or Jay Adams work on preaching with a purpose, but it does give novices something to think through before ‘studying’ homiletics. 

525140: Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible  Communication Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
By Andy Stanley & Lane Jones / Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Speakers and preachers—follow this instructive parable to keep your message alive and your audience alert! By knowing your destination before you leave (identifying the major premise you want to communicate), using your turn signals (transition ahead!), and employing five other practical points, you’ll be on the road to success—and drive your message home! 176 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Toxic Charity Book Review–thank you Metanoia (Bill Stanfield)

05/05/2012 Comments off

This is the a rare review without an assignment from a publisher, this book was referred to me by Bill Stanfield of Metanoia, who is DOING (James 1:22 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F59001022(ESV) what this book talks about, I was referred to him through numerous non-believers in the Charleston area that are struck by what he is accomplishing (1 Timothy 3:7 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F54003007(ESV), and good book referrals are an evidence of God’s grace in a world of 140 characters of less.  Thank you Bill!

I heard someone say, we are so busy with our meetings, service projects, outreaches, and programs that believers cannot ever truly make an impact with their neighbor.  A few years ago I was convicted through reading When Helping Hurts, that there is something wrong with the way ‘ministry’, ‘charity’ or ‘benevolence’ work is done.  What I have realized since then, is that good intentioned believers may read a work like this (Toxic Charity or WHH) and like my years with trying to engage other believers with the presupposition of true biblical counseling, the eyes are opened for a short while, but later with the pressures of ministry, congregations, and depravity, it is back to the way we are used to doing it.  Back to the ‘Christian’ programs, back to the ‘Christian’ food banks, back to the short, quick fix, did-my-good-deed-check-my-box without a commitment.

Although TC is not as saturated with scripture as WHH and tends to be a little more caustic, it is still a new book in my arsenal of removing the haze from their eyes when it comes to rethinking making an impact with others.  This book was interesting to me, it challenged me, and enlightened me, that this topic is not going away.  Other believers are trying to wake up Christians as well, and it appears that maybe a few are listening? I think the thing that strikes me the most about these works is that many of the foundational principles are already in effect because of common grace, but in many instances, non-believers are convicted, apply, and see the implications better than routine believers.

What do I mean?  I think quotes will help with that;

Dependency.  Destroying personal initiative.  When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them. (3)

Our memory is short when recovery is long.  We respond with immediacy to desperate circumstances but often are unable to shift from crisis relief  to the more complex work of long-term development. (6)

Everywhere I looked, I observed the same patterns, from overseas church mission trips to the inner-city service projects of campus organizations.  Wherever there was sustained one-way giving, unwholesome dynamics and pathologies festered under the cover of kindheartedness. (35)

Churches want their members to feel good about serving the poor, but no one really wants to become involved in messy relationships. (57)

Relationships built on need tend to be short-lived. (60)

The local church is an institution with institutional needs.  It is important to understand this.  It begins with an informal group of like-minded people who come together for fellowship and worship, it evolves into structured organization with budgets and staff and buildings, and finally it matures into an enduring institution.  It functions like all other institutions—with stated mission and an intrinsic motivation to preserve and protect its own interests.  The lion’s share of church budgets are spent on meeting the needs of the congregation, not for the needs of the outside communities.  To earmark mission-trip expenditures as primarily for spiritual benefit of members would be in keeping with traditional church budgeting.  It is important to understand this so that we will not be disappointed by unrealistic expectations. (70)

And the number of church members volunteering in outreach programs measures only activity, not outcomes.  (76)

When leadership is committed to outcomes rather than activity, to measureable results rather than budget size or number of engaged members, changes in mission focus can be navigated with an acceptable level of disruption. (78)

For disadvantaged people to flourish into their full, God-give potential, they must leave behind dependencies that impede their growth.  Initiatives that thwart their development, though right motivated, must be restructured to reinforce self-sufficiency if they are to become agents of lasting and positive change. (102)

Experienced microlending organizations have identified three essential elements for successful microloans:  The borrower must have (1) an ingrained work ethic, (2) a demonstrated entrepreneurial instinct, and (3) a stable support system. (120)

Is your church engaged in community development ministry?  All answered in the affirmative.  But when asked to name their target neighborhood and there transformative goals, none was able to give a definitive answer.  All were in engaged in community service of various sorts, but none were focused on transforming a specific community. (133)

What is required to transform a deteriorating neighborhood is a geographically focused vision with measurable goals over extended time. (133)

In short, become an expert in your community.  Immerse yourselves in every aspect of community life.  Volunteer as appropriate, but make no long-term commitments.  Be interested, supportive neighbor for at least six months before attempting to initiate any new activity. (160)

Is there a way we can bring more human dignity to the process of exchange rather than simply using one-way giving?

Can we increase our personal involvement with those in crisis to assist them with housing, day care, or other support while they get back on their feet? (182)

Robert Lupton (author) does make you think about your activities with charity.  The material was well laid out, held my attention (lots of great application stuff in it as well), and the information was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner.  I think more scripture, possibly from a creation, fall, redemption and consummation perspective might bring some more convicting applications, but also driving home implications of what is being suggested.  I would highly recommend this book to ANYONE (believers and non-believers)

076205: Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
By Robert D. Lupton / Harpercollins Publishing

Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren’t enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton. In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it’s meant to help.

In his four decades of urban ministry, Lupton has experienced firsthand how our good intentions can have unintended, dire consequences. Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environment. We fly off on mission trips to poverty-stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways-trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in "turning my people into beggars."

In Toxic Charity, Lupton urges individuals, churches, and organizations to step away from these spontaneous, often destructive acts of compassion toward thoughtful paths to community development. He delivers proven strategies for moving from toxic charity to transformative charity.

Proposing a powerful "Oath for Compassionate Service" and spotlighting real-life examples of people serving not just with their hearts but with proven strategies and tested tactics, Lupton offers all the tools and inspiration we need to develop healthy, community-driven programs that produce deep, measurable, and lasting change. Everyone who volunteers or donates to charity needs to wrestle with this book.

The Explicit Gospel–by Matt Chandler & Jared Wilson(Audiobook Review)

02/05/2012 Comments off

Thank you christianaudio reviewers program for the opportunity to review this work, a blessing indeed!

In a culture of moral relativism, Christians have been spiraling into another worldview, that of “moral therapeutic deism,” Matt Chandler, new president of Acts29, thoroughly covers the biblical meaning of the explicit gospel confronting this ‘new’ Christianity.

The audiobook is divided into three parts, "The Gospel on the Ground" (which covers God, man, Christ and response or systematic theology topics) which refers to the gospel as it applies to specific individuals. The second part, "The Gospel in the Air," (discussed through the lens of creation, fall, redemption and consummation or biblical theology) which seeks to reveal that these individual salvation stories are part of God’s sovereign plan to bring all things to consummation in Christ. The "explicit gospel" holds these two perspectives together as mutually interwoven and complementary.  Finally, the book continues with applications and implications (what does this look like both bad and good).

I have been listening to Matt Chandler for a few years, so I was very excited with the opportunity to listen to this audio.  The gospel is always interesting to me, and Matt’s illustrations, humor, and contextual couth language brings the explicit to sobering reality.  This book was and will be very challenging to those who who think heaven is like in tom-n-jerry, or even warm-n-fuzzy prosperity.  This book will inspire too, in that, there is more to the gospel than doing stuff (going to church, reading the bible, etc.) it is about a savior who died.  The implications of fully understanding this, is what is explicit compared to the vague gospel so rampant in many churches today.   As I was listening to this, I was thinking about folks who would benefit from this.  Does your theology include loving God with all your mind?  Does God hold your attention?  Then this audio, to include the narrator, presented this work in an cohesive, yet appealing manner.  I also appreciated that Matt and Jared saturated this work successfully to convey deep Biblical truth in easy to understand language.  I would highly recommend this book to all, especially to those who have been ‘Christians’ for a while.  This audio would also be good for a new believer in that it might prevent the performance based routine of faith that many of us get into when we forget the gospel.

Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem

25/03/2012 Comments off

Thank you to christianaudio.com’s audio reviewer program for the opportunity to review this audio.  A humble blessing as usual!

One of the things that has always caused consternation with me about ‘church’ was the separation between ‘leadership’ and ‘laity’, or the professionalization of the ministry.  I will never forget driving to a ministry commitment with a newly invited friend, and about half way to our location, he started weeping.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “no one has every let me get into the game, thank you.”  Somehow it had been communicated to my friend that unless he was a pastor, went to seminary, and a part of ‘leadership’ he could never ‘get into the game’ of doing real ministry.  Given that 99% of the population is not in ‘full-time’ ministry as felt by my friend and many others, a treatise reminding us that business can be done for the glory of God is a refreshing change.  On top of that, renown author Wayne Grudem is one that can cause us to take a moment and pause on this topic acknowledging that scripture makes no divide between sacred and secular.

Does the Bible teach on the moral goodness of business?  Can I have a business, work for someone else, or do business with vendors for the glory of God?  Is business, employment, making a profit, competition, and meetings, something that can be done for the glory of God?  Wayne Grudem captures this misnomer regarding business and points us back to scripture.  An apt legitimizer of our secular days which can be redeemed looking toward restoration.

This book when it was originally released (2003) so moved me that I also invested in the Logos version so that I could readily share it with and invest in others.  Having this in audio form was a refreshing reminder to take application onward to implications.  The narrator was interesting, coherent, and enthusiastic about the material and author.  It was evident in inflection, timing, and meditative pauses to get you thinking.  Due to my current employment and being part of a team, it has been a good mission field to take study, prayer, and ‘church’ to real life and join Christ in what He is already doing in the day-to-day. 

  
This work was interesting to me, it inspired, and enlightened me in many ways.  As usual, Wayne Grudem makes you think, holds your attention, while presenting in a cohesive and yet appealing manner.  Refreshing also in that Grudem successfully conveys Biblical truth into the everyday.  I would highly recommend this work to others, with all world-views.

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