Your Blog Steward

My photo
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 Books for Congregational Leaders

In order to make this list comprehensible, here is what I mean by "congregational leader:"

1) the context of their ministry centers around a congregation of Christians in a particular community.
2) the leader believes in the adage "to be a better leader you become a better theologian."
3) the leader trusts that God's mission (missio Dei) uses congregations
4) the leader reads the Bible regularly and leads authentically from their tradition

If you can buy into this list of 4 characteristics of a congregational leader (and there can be more, I am sure), then these five books that follow I hope would be of some use in your ministry.

Welcoming the Stranger by Patrick R. Keifert.  This book has a lot to offer leaders even after reading it 2 or 3 times. I've been reading it for over 20 years, and I still find new stuff in it.

PastorPower by Martha Ellen Stortz  A leader has to understand power and this work does a good job of handling the issue. Even those who are not "pastors" can benefit from her reflections on power.

The Story of Christianity, 2 vols. by Justo L. Gonzalez.   No Christian congregation lives in a vacuum, and to know the history of our predecessors is vital to keeping us from falling into the two traps of "despair" and "arrogance." Despair is when you think no one has been their before and you are doomed...(there is nothing new under the sun you will find.) And arrogance is when you think no one has thought or lived this way before...(again, there is nothing new under the sun. Chances are there are Christians who believed about God, Jesus, and the Spirit just like you do and they lived 700 years ago, and they didn't have quantum physics...hmmmm.)

Oxford Bible Atlas  It is amazing how much clearer the stories of the Bible are when you can get a sense of where they came from and where they are going.

Studying Congregations, ed. by Nancy Ammerman, et al.  I am a big fan of using economic, statistical, and other social sciences to lead congregations. This book is a decent summary of how to go about analyzing your congregation without having to resort of guesswork about what is going on in the parking lot after a meeting.

I can think of many other books I would add, and this list is clearly based on my preferences. If you have ones you would suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

For me, community, in this case congregations, are not optional if you are to have a Christian faith, a faith from the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth through the power of the Holy Spirit. I think of Jesus himself, hanging on the cross at his last, and saying to his mother, here is your new son, and to his friend, here is your new mother. The guy just couldn't help building community. It's who he is. And I love it!

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

No comments: