Friday, November 25, 2011

What's A Church to Do With Men: "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow

David Murrow asks a valid question in his title. Why do men hate going to church? What do you do about the gender gap in the church? He spends the first half of the book defining his terms, proving there is a gap and pointing out the church's failings in focused detail. Has the church become a ladies club? Have we given up on the risen Christ as a "real man?" Is there any thing to do about it.

The second half of the book gives concrete help in amending church structure and style to appeal to boys and all ages of men.  My only critique of the book is the assumption that we can simply bend the shape of the church and be overrun with men.  This is not as easy as leaving out hugging or going with a solo "Man Up" style. Men are important and neglected but are still a part of the church's whole. We cannot control all of the cultural reasons that the church has this gender gap and we cannot leave the women out.  Murrow does, however, give an extensive list of things that are in the church control to be and become a "Church for Everyone."

The author also includes bolsters the book with an excellent presence on the web. His site, offers helps that are consistent with the book including a helpful pop quiz or "Guy Friendliness Test". He also has a speaker's board.   My church,deep in cowboy country in Texas, and I failed this text.  I am a real guy, ok?  This book opened my eyes to the guy repelling habits that I have and our church pays little attention to.  The hugging thing, getting the scriptural Jesus's story right, handling prayer, basics of ministry to and other things are fairly simple to fix.  This can be done without minimizing women and the holistic ministry of the church too. Murrow puts ministry to men on the "front burner" and then tells us ways to attract them.

I recommend this book highly to pastors, all age level ministers, Christian educators and worship leaders. This would help a Godly and frustrated wife or mom to understand her men.   "Why Men Hate Going to Church"  would probably not be a small group study but that is guy repelling anyway.  It would be a super staff study and focus book for any Men's Group or ministry.  

Would you like some application and additional thoughts.  This topic is a big concern of mine and you can read this and some extra notes on my other blog,

Tyndale publishing gave me this book through their BookSneeze program for free in exchange for this review. They expected and received my honest evaluation.  Thanks to them for the opportunity to read it and thank you for reading my review.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So Very Tired of the Trivial: "Going Deep" by Gordon MacDonald

Going Deep is a book for those who are weary of mind candy.  On the surface this is a leadership geek book for pastors but there is more going on here.  Gordon MacDonald and his wife Gail are an amazing pastoral couple and give us a book with two threads.

 First, a process of leading a congregation from the pastor's (Gordon's) great idea to cultivate leadership to the congregation's  purpose as the church. This process begins with the plea for an "Elevator Story" by an exective at a ball game, was filtered through a time of prayer, went to a church already accustomed to being "cultivated,  on to dreaming, informing, reflecting, selecting, cultivating, casting, adjusting, healing and building.  The end result is not a linear process but a culture that expects the cultivation of spiritual depth by the entire church.  This is the end of most leadership material but keep reading.

Second, "Going Deep" offers an almost magical look into a pastoral leader's thought process.  There are no punch lists and few bullet points.  The book offers a glimpse into the mind of a deep thinker as he journeys from the birth of a prayer borne idea to its evolution and application.  Written in a narrative style, it is both a teaching and learning experience experience by a lot of people.  The journey begins with a trip to West Point on to a conversation at a Red Sock's game, through the city dump, a rabbi's office and then through various levels and gatherings of the church.  The end result is not the end but a community of Cultivated Deep People-who happen to be Christ-Followers.

These are the main teaching points that I want to apply to my life and ministry.

  • Pray for God to give you an idea and not merely ask a blessing on your idea. Trust God for your starting point.
  • The time and talent of the pastor must be invested in the idea. PASTOR must make a stand. Have relationships with members deep enough to go to the ball game with.
  • The time and talent of your pastor must be invested in the idea.  The CHURCH must likewise make a stand.  Have a deep enough relationship with your pastor and take him or her to the ballgame.  Allowing this level of focus by taking extraneous duties away makes this process a success.  And no, most of us don't have all of this staff and will stand alone to find this focus
  •  Take your time and allow an idea to develop on the spiritual foundation that you have laid..  Most leadership books try to be instant-this one took two years and is still evolving.  
  • Groups have a life.  The grown-up members are kicked out into the world at about 40 weeks.  The key is independent and interdependent disciples.  
  • Recruit core leaders who are teachable, grow-able and able to mentor.  Don't collect those that need to get involved to feel better or deal with a spiritual crisis.  
  • Listen to all of your voices; executives, corporate trainers, rabbis, and various group members.  All are your counselors.  God's voice comes from the strangest places-don't forget to listen to member in the "corners", children and youth.
  • Remember to let scripture guide and Journal.  There is power to writing down the journey. The Bible teaches powerfully in a narrative and so does George MacDonald.  Journaling a narrative during a long term project allows for feedback, correction and definitive assessment.
  • Expect depth.  The author pushed courageously for depth and   "Depth comes before competence".  Too often we try to keep everyone comfortable-God tested and so should his church.  
  • Keep current with technology-surround yourself with young people and young at heart.  There is nothing pious about being backward.  
  • Finally, trust your people.  MacDonald's leadership let him lead and his diverse CDP (Cultivating Deep People) team members were trusted to follow and then lead.  He communicates the wonder of a deep thinking group of Christians sharing the same Christ led vision and watched as they wandered and discovered.

I was blessed by this book.  Any pastor, administrative leader, evangelism leader and Christian ed. leaders will be provoked to a new way through its subtle lessons.  Thanks to Tyndale's Book Sneeze program for giving me this book in exchange for this review.  They expected and received an honest review.  Thanks for reading TheThoughtfulPastor blog.  

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