fridea: a book or two

Howdy, friends! It’s Friday, so it’s time for another Fridea – a ministry idea for summertime or anytime.

I figure some college ministers out there have a little easier schedule in the summer, PLUS we’re all thinking through what next school year’s ministry should look like. If that’s the case, one of the best ways to impact your own ministry could be to read a ministry-impacting book this summer.

[I’ll throw out some thoughts on books you might wanna read at the end of this post.]

I don’t get as much time to read as I would like (that’s pretty much what everybody says, right?), and certainly book-reading moments are in short supply during this trip.

However, my own Collegiate Ministry philosophy has probably been most influenced by God directing me to key books at certain critical points in my 9 years of college ministry. I’m not an avid book-reader, but it’s neat how God still plops specific, needed impact in your life at the perfect moment!

Without burdening yourself with a whole “reading program” or a list of “15 books to read this summer,” is it possible that even one or two well-chosen books could take your ministry to a new level of impact? Absolutely! Book-reading is a form of collaboration, and even small collaboration moments have the power to bring new thoughts, new tensions, and new ideas. How much more reading a book – especially one that has proven to impact many other people?

So, if you’re thinkin’ about reading a book or two, I’m sure you can find good suggestions from lots of people. But in case you’re wondering, here is my list of some of the books that have most impacted the way I view Collegiate Ministry.

You may notice this list is pretty varied, coming from several fields – but that’s a good thing, right?

the book thoughts

Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson. Peterson here urges long-term faithfulness to our callings, including loving and working the soil we have been given. While his focus is pastors, I long ago was dramatically impacted by his outlook on ministry and people. And I refer back to certain chapters quite often.

Disciples are Made, Not Born by Walter Henrichsen. While I actually haven’t read this book all the way through, much of my own view of disciplemaking comes from people who have. It’s a classic for a reason, and it presents a strong case for basic, one-on-one disciplemaking.

Good to Great and its companion “Good to Great in the Social Sectors” monograph by Jim Collins. While it has become almost cliche to mention this book because of its outrageous popularity, it might not be seen as a go-to book within Collegiate Ministry. I know for me, at least, it spoke directly to my hopes for a purposeful, effective, efficient college ministry.

But, a caution: it’s tempting to read this book, remove its “easily-remembered concepts” from the context and wisdom of the book, and think you’re truly applying Good to Great principles (I’ve seen it happen). I would encourage you to read for understanding and not just “tips,” and to spend time in re-reading prayer and thought about applying these concepts within your context.

Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger. Rainer and Geiger focus on churches, but most anything they say can also be applied to specific ministries. Reading this in combination with Good to Great helped me immensely in Spring of 2007 as I was pondering next steps for our college ministry. This book, too, is widely heralded – and as a result is often, like Good to Great, handled clumsily. When that happens, people and ministries can be hurt – so read with wisdom, and pray like crazy!

Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This secular book on helping people remember messages has obvious application for any teacher, advocate for college ministry, etc. After reading it once last year, I promptly began reading it again. Very helpful.

And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler with Patricia Purvis. Honestly, I may include this book in my most influential only because I haven’t read a whole lot of missions biographies. Still, this simple, profound, and powerful book by a Wycliffe Bible translator pushed forward my understanding of Collegiate Ministry-as-Missions. Since it was assigned reading for a missiology class, I do have to figure it’s one of the better ones. Bonus: you can finish And the Word in one sitting – and once you start reading, it may be hard not to do that!

Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. I actually went through the workbook (which I like better), but the book and workbook have fundamentally the same concepts. While this is a (classic) book on knowing and doing God’s will for anybody, the ways it discusses knowing God’s will in the church as a whole (in the later chapters) can be applied directly to specific ministries, as well.

Like I said, those are some books that have impacted the way I think about ministry. I’ve been impacted by other books, of course. Still, if you’re looking to read a book or two this summer (and I hope you can!), these are some that might be worth checking out!

Written from “home” in Herndon, VA (in the Washington, D.C. area)

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