Thursday, August 25, 2011

With under a week left to blog 31 times in August, I'm going to have to step up my game.

The other day I got an email from the library, reminding me that my two books were due back this Saturday.  At first I thought, well this means I need to get reading.  I had already promised (sadly 10 days ago) that I would have a review for one of the books, The Pillars of the Earth, soon.  Well, last night I finished the first chapter, and then fell asleep for another 12 hours.  Don't get me wrong, it is an enjoyable book so far...I am just not reading it as often or as quickly as I would like.  Still not sure what prompted me to sleep for that long.  In this scenario, I am neither an early bird nor a late night owl.  I guess I will have to settle for being an afternoon...lark.
So this morning, after feeling particularly unproductive, I decided that I would go check to see if my textbooks were in the mail, and then head to Starbucks to sip my coffee and read (I am less likely to fall asleep while sitting at Starbucks and reading.  Not sure if it is because of the coffee, the fact that I am usually sitting upright, or that falling asleep in public (outside of riding on an airplane or a bus or a train) is generally frowned upon.  By me.).  My plan B, if the books weren't there, was to head to Starbucks and read the Bible for class, and then maybe blog about it.  For my class on the Holy Spirit, some of the reading that needs to get done before the first class is to read through the book of Acts, while thinking about the question "Who is the Holy Spirit?"
Well, my books did arrive in the mail (hooray!  I love to get books in the mail!)...but in addition to my textbooks, I also ordered a non-textbook (though still thought-provoking and educational in nature), one that had been recommended at the conference I attended in June.  So of course I chose to take that book to Starbucks to sit and read (not my textbooks.  Not my Bible.  Not the library books that are due on Saturday (though I did just renew them, so I can procrastinate for two more weeks)).
It is so refreshing.  I have only read the first chapter so far, but I will probably sit and read more as soon as I am done writing this blogpost.  What's the book called, you ask?  Well, thank you for asking.  It is called Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples, by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger.  So far they have introduced that research (strongly) suggests that thriving churches are those that follow a simple plan...providing people opportunities to be the church....and churches that are merely offering a ton of programs are dead...they are offering people opportunities to do church.
Here are some quotes I liked from the first chapter:
"At thirty thousand feet Pastor Rush is thinking of people in his church. He is praying and thinking. Some tough questions are emerging. Are the people in his church being transformed? Is his church making real disciples, the kind of disciples Jesus made? Or is everyone just busy?" (Page 7)
"First, we are not suggesting that the simple approach to ministry is a change in doctrine or conviction. Thom has written several books on the primacy of sound, biblical, and orthodox doctrine in growing churches. On that issue we do not compromise.
Second, we are not saying that churches should become simple because it is in style or culturally hip. A revolution goes against the cultural grain. Churches that are simple are not mirroring the culture. They are not mimicking the world in order to reach the world.
In fact, the opposite is true. You must get this." (Page 14-15)
"Something must change, but Pastor Rush is struggling with where to begin. He understands the what. He has a sense of what the church should be doing. He believes the church should be committed to evangelism, prayer, helping people build relationships with believers, seeing people grow deeper, serving, and worship.
He also has a sense of why. He deeply desires to see God glorified. He struggles with the how. One burning question has entered his mind: How can we structure all of this to come together to make disciples?" (Page 22)
"To have a simple church, you must design a simple discipleship process. This process must be clear. It must move people toward maturity. It must be integrated fully into your church, and you must get rid of the clutter around it.
It is much easier to write and read that paragraph that to make it happen." (Page 26)

After I am done reading this book, maybe I will have another blog post about it...but don't hold your breath unless the book turns out to be super-awesome (hopefully it will be!).

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