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New Church Growth Strategy: Intentional Ethnic Diversity
Some traditionally white churches and denominations are staving off attendance decline through diversification strategies.

Was Christ’s Death Divine Child Abuse?
You know the answer, but can you explain why not?

5 Things I’m Still Sure About God’s Law
R.C. Jr. with five positive things about the law that he is still positive about.

Kevin Durant’s Father
Almost one in four American children lives in a household without their biological dads. For brown kids, that number stands at about 28 percent. For black kids, it’s a little better than half.

Churches, Cage Matches, And The Schlepp
“One day while lecturing on Gregory the Great’s treatise On Pastoral Care, Professor Davis suddenly stopped, put down his chalk, looked over the class for a few moments and said, “You do realize most of you will labor in small churches and at the end of your ministry you may be hard pressed to think of more than a dozen people you have directly influenced.” He then picked up the chalk and returned to the lecture. Like the rest of the class I was nonplussed. Looking back now I see what was going on”

Should I Be Content With My Singleness?
nd a couple of other family-related posts from TGC. The Child of The Future, and Russell Moore on How Pastors Should Address Divorce And Remarriage.

Thunderstorm Supercell Timelapse in Wyoming
Best fullscreen with the music muted. Watch for your jaw dropping about 55 secs.

My Dirty Little Secret For Happy Knowledge Work

Sometimes I get envious of painters, plumbers, landscapers, carpenters and others who get to work with their hands and have something to show for it at the end of every day, or at least every week.

What do I and other “knowledge workers” have to show for it every seven days?

Virtually nothing.

Or most of it is “virtual” – words that are hidden inside our computers and servers: in files, documents, reports, spreadsheets, and so on. But there’s not a lot of physicality to this.

Some of these words may get posted on the Internet – but effectively disappear off the bottom of the page every few days

Some of the words become sermons which also largely evaporate into the air as they are spoken.

For knowledge workers in general, and for pastors in particular, there often just isn’t anything to show for weeks and weeks, months and months, years and years of mental sweat, blood, and tears.

One answer to this frustrating sense of futility is more faith, to believe that God will bless His Word written and spoken. We sow the seed, another waters, but God gives the increase. Yes, we believe all that – most of the time.

But we’re still human, we still have a basic human need to see some fruit, some result, something to show for all the hours and hours in the study and on our knees.

Another answer is to mow the lawn (or, in Michigan, to shovel the snow in the winter).

I admit it, cutting the grass has become one of the most satisfying things I do all week. It meets that basic human need to have something physical, something visible, something to point to, something beautiful to see and admire.

Apart from that weekly satisfaction infusion, I also try to do one major physical project every year. One year, I laid a patio. This year I built a deck in our yard. It’s something tangible I can point to and say, “I did that!” (with God’s help, of course).

I hope this isn’t too unspiritual, but when I feel I’ve got little or nothing to show for a semester’s work – how do you measure whether Hebrew exegesis lectures really worked? – I cut the grass, paint a room, or go and work on my new deck. I get my muscles sore and hands dirty, basically.

Another pastor I know spends his regular day off doing carpentry. Maybe, some days, the Apostle Paul got a greater sense of accomplishment gluing and stitching tents together than gluing and stitching ripped churches together.

Yes, I also pray for more faith that God will bless my lectures, even though I’m unlikely to see or hear of the results in my students’ future ministries. I pray for fruit from my sermons and pastoral visits in my congregation.

But like many knowledge workers there’s still a little bit of me – maybe it’s a really weak and carnal bit – that I feel just needs the regular wee encouragement of something that I can see and touch. Grass, paving stone, and wood have worked for me. The dirtier and harder the work, the better.

But, strangely, that physical yard work has also motivated, inspired, and energized me to do more spiritual Word work too.

Hope that’s OK.

Check out

The Worst Places In The World To Be Religious
Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Kora, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

The (Mostly Sad) State of Christian College Education
Yep, pretty depressing. “Perhaps it is time that the church step back and rethink the whole notion of Christian education. Is our goal to have our children graduate from college prepared to make a nice middle class household income while at the same time keeping their virginity intact and their Republican voter registration in good standing? Or is it instruct our children for a life of ministry in a hostile world where they may very well have to choose between comfort and truth, between acceptance and affluence or poverty and faithfulness.”

The Washington Post Is Super Confused About Where Babies Come From
The Federalist has fast become a daily must-read. Quality research and writing from a conservative and often Christian viewpoint.

The Real Proverbs 31 Mom
David Prince: “She was a new member of the church and asked me how she could get more involved. I mentioned several things including women’s ministry and when I did her countenance changed and she said, “I just cannot take another Proverbs 31 study!”

8 Tips For Getting Anything Done And Homeschooling
How does a homeschooling mother of eight get anything done? Here are some tips.

Paralyzed Bride Walks The Aisle

Top 10 Leadership Books

As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Other posts include:

Today I’m listing the Top 10 Books on Leadership. Although not specifically Christian books, when read through the spectacles of the Bible you can read these books with great profit for every leadership role, including pastoral ministry. I’ll follow up with a separate list of books on Christian leadership.

These are the books I encourage my teenage sons to read to set them up for maximum usefulness in their homes, workplaces, and the church.

You may also want to see the leadership resources here:

After this Top 10 list you’ll find a poll where you can cast three votes for your favorite books and help others choose the best books on the subject. Click on “View Results” to see what books are most popular.

You can also add any book not on the list by writing the title in “Other” or in the Comments  I’ll add these to the end of the post under “Reader Suggestions.”

1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by Dave Allen.

Still the go-to book for organizing to-do lists and maximizing time-management. You’ll probably not implement all the details of Allen’s system, but you’ll learn principles and practices that you can apply to whatever role you are in – from homemaker to pastor to house-builder to CEO.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Steven Covey.

I re-read this book quite regularly and always learn something new from it. Covey starts with personal management before moving on to personnel management, character before conduct and contact – a vital order.

3. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker.

Some overlap with Getting Things Done, but simpler and more focused on decision-making.

4. Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud.

Deals with the unpleasant but vital area of letting people (and plans) go when they are not working out. Some outstanding advice on how to decide who and what is working out or not. Takes a persuasive positive approach by arguing the benefits to everyone of “necessary endings.” I previously summarized chapter 7 in this book in Wise or Foolish? One Simple Test. See also Cloud’s Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No

5. Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence by Erik Qualman

So important for anyone with any leadership role to understand the powerful influence of using digital technology well. Heres A Digital Dictionary For Leaders and 10 Digital Commandments I gleaned from this book.

6. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

Might seem like an odd choice for a list of books on leadership, but Shawn Achor makes a compelling (and entertaining) scientific and statistical case for the productivity of happiness.

7. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

So important when interacting with and managing other people. Way more important than IQ, and most encouragingly can be developed and grown. See also Goleman’s Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

8. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky.

So many churches could do with a good dose of this book. We usually have plenty of visionaries and dreamers, but how to get there….? This book is about execution, execution, execution.

9. Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern.

This book is about managing your space, your desk, your office, your files, etc. Time Management from the Inside Out (also by Morgenstern), applies the same principles to managing and organizing time. And her Never Check Email In The Morning takes a closer look at managing email.

10. View From the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World by D. Michael Lindsay.

This book is the result of a remarkable 10-year study of 550 top American leaders from all walks of life. It provides a wealth of fascinating statistics, a treasure trove of personal anecdotes, and some priceless quotations from well-known leaders. I was astounded by the access granted to Lindsay and by what he was able to draw out of his normally hyper-cautious interviewees. If you want to know how the most influential people in our culture got there, and how they think and operate, you will love and and profit from this book.
Now you decide, what are your favorites? You can cast three votes and write a book in “Other” if it’s not on the list and I’ll add it to Reader Suggestions below.

Reader Suggestions

What would you add to the list and why?

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box

Check out

Blue Collar Man
Author Ted Kluck writes about financial struggle and the new challenge of having to do hard physical work for a living.

Dinesh D’Souza Might Be Going To Jail
How should conservatives respond to the news that an anti-Obama film-maker has admitted jail-worthy criminal conduct in financing a political campaign? Rod Dreher says we should support any verdict and sentence even if the law has been selectively applied.

Preaching Proverbs 6 – Getting Started
Dan Phillips gives us a valuable peek behind-the-scenes at his sermon preparation, especially at how he uses Bibleworks.

Research To Lose Sleep Over
A Harvard student’s research reveals that sleeping more might improve your B+ to an A-.

If Newspapers And Magazines Think Life Is Tough Now…
Fascinating article and graphic. Here’s what media the different generations would miss most. TV is dead, long live the smartphone!

Why Libraries Matter
A day in the life of New York libraries (if you can tolerate the 30 sec commercial at the beginning).