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I just finished reading It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It. I picked up a copy at the conference I was at last week, on the recommendation of one of the presenters.

Wow.

On the heels finishing up unChristian last week, this was a great follow-up read. The conference I was at last week was a leadership conference designed for church leaders and the session I was in where this book was recommended was a session about transforming Sunday morning groups from ordinary to extraordinary. I signed up for that sessions because I believed that it would be beneficial with my Sunday School class. It was, and I left the session (and the whole conference) incredibly enthused about the work I do at church and eager to step up my game. Hopefully soon I'll find the time to write up about the conference. But for now, I'll write up a quick book review.

It is a passionate call for ministry leaders to seek that something (the author call it "it") that makes ministries special. It's really hard to describe, partly because the author insists on calling it "it" through the whole book -- there is no attempt to more precisely define it. A big reason for that is that it is incredible difficult to define, and much of the argument comes from a spiritual and emotional perspective were precise definitions don't necessarily make sense. I struggled with that a bit, as I really like to order things logically. Once I was able to get beyond that and open myself up to the book, it really took a hold of me.

I read most of the book on the plane rides from Kansas City back to Greensboro. It's a quick read. I'm hesitant to say it's an easy read because the book is very challenging. I was confronted with my need to honestly step up my game as it relates to ministry. I've been involved in groups that have "it" and I know that it's good. This book helped me refocus my desire to chase "it" and get "it" back.

I know this review probably sounds scatterbrained. I'm just having a hard time finding the way to express how glad I am to have read this book. If you're involved in leading any kind of ministry, I highly recommend it.

I'm on a reading kick right now and really enjoying it. And just as I finished reading It, I'm happy to come home and find that the copy of Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices that I won showed up today. So far, I've read the prefaces and introductions and the first couple of paragraphs of the first chapter. It looks very interesting.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
naqerj
Oct. 8th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
I haven't read the last book you mention, but looking it over at Amazon, it seems like yet another in the long line of arguments built on the "Great Apostasy" theory—namely, that the Apostles' mission failed and that Christianity went wildly off track early on. Coupled with this is probably the Hellenizing pseudomorphosis theory of historian Adolf von Harnack. Harnack's thesis, that early Christianity was corrupted from its "pure" Semitic form and Hellenized by philosophers, is pretty easily discredited by any serious student of the Church Fathers.

It's probably sufficient to mention that most serious historians of Christianity, no matter their confession, don't support these ideas. There are plenty of books which detail the origins of Christian worship and theology, such as works by Hugh Wybrew, Dom Gregory Dix, and most especially Jaroslav Pelikan's Christianity and Classical Culture. I also recommend the work by Methodist Philip J. Lee, Against the Protestant Gnostics, which addresses a lot of late modern church practices and worship and connects them not to paganism but to Gnosticism.
christtrekker
Oct. 8th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
Very much looking forward to your review of Pagan Christianity. And happy for you that the conference was so rewarding!
neebs
Oct. 8th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
Hey, if you want to bring this with you when you're here, I'd love to borrow it!! =)
drmellow
Oct. 8th, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
I'll try to remember to put it in my bag!
jameseriddick
Oct. 9th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
"It" was a fantastic book. I first came across 'It' and the author at the Willow Creek worship conference this summer.
Craig Croeschel was a fantastic speaker. Some of the most profound ideas to me were those based on "Planned Abbandonment" in churches.... he says that he woke up one day to find that he and his church were doing all of these many ministries.... but he didn't really know WHY they were doing them exactly. He also began to question how effective they each really were. A big part of this problem-that we see in church body's everywhere is that you have a church that wishes to do 388 differenct ministries.... but only 10-20 people who are actively involved in any of them. So then, it's like butter spread on too much toast. He and his church set out on a mission of planned abandonment-basically going back to the basic roles of the church. Awesome book man, thanks for the review!

james
(Anonymous)
Oct. 10th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
Pagan Christianity
I've read "Pagan" and thought it was insightful and right on target. It is controversial, but sometimes it's necessary to shake things up a bit when the Body of Christ has veered off course. (Think Martin Luther).

Thought you might be interested to know that the sequel to “Pagan Christianity?” is out now. It’s called “Reimagining Church”. It picks up where “Pagan” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org. It’s also available on Amazon.com. Frank is also blogging now at http://frankviola.wordpress.com/ . Also, have you seen the spoof video for "Pagan"? Very funny. Check it out at http://youtube.com/watch?v=hslswIal9u4 .
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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