This was a fascinating book. The book is about these three untruths in our culture. This is a book about three Great Untruths that seem to have spread widely in recent years: The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people. You see the world changing around us. Like you have a new "call out culture." When someone disagrees with you, instead of opposing, there is a shaming that takes place. It might be about the conduct or the person's attitudes. People will write about how judgmental someone is, instead of dealing with the issue. There is public shaming of those who disagree with them. The authors state, "Social media has channeled partisan passions into the creation of a “callout culture”; anyone can be publicly shamed for saying something well-intentioned that someone else interprets uncharitably." There is a lot that is happening, but instead of making people stronger, we are becoming weaker. When people disagree, instead of healthy interaction, it is now called hate speech quickly. Here is another thoughtful insight. "There is a principle in philosophy and rhetoric called the principle of charity, which says that one should interpret other people’s statements in their best, most reasonable form, not in the worst or most offensive way possible." Instead of assuming someone is judgmental or hateful, think that the person has good intentions. Another great insight is how we "other" people. We see people as "us" and "them." This thinking always causes increased polarization. There is talk about victimhood too. Overall, this is a thought-provoking book and makes a lot of excellent points — an excellent read to be better at dealing with us and understanding the current culture.
This book was fantastic. The author does an excellent job of writing about the theory of evangelism and the practical "how to" of evangelism. The book was thought provoking and helpful in dealing with people in this current culture. Over and over again, I found myself interested in the material and gaining new thoughts into how to evangelize others. This is great up to date book about evangelism. The only downside of the book was a couple of chapters about delivering an evangelistic talk. This is because the author wrote a book about preaching, but the sections on preparing an evangelistic talk felt like an add on, instead of staying connected to the flow of the book. Looking past those couple of chapters, everything else was super helpful. I could give a few of the insights from the book, but I want to note something. He does not come up with some new idea, but he talks about ideas that have worked and are working. Sometimes in evangelism people are searching for some magical program for evangelism, but often our approaches are simple. The difference between them working or not is from people doing evangelism instead of people talking about doing evangelism. This is a great book.
Yesterday, I was reading about a question that Warren Buffett would ask a Presidential candidate. He would want to ask about a view that the majority of the people that would be comfortable voting for him would disagree with. Buffett would desire to see if the individual has the ability, to be honest, or attempt to tell him what he believed Buffett would want to hear. This is an excellent test for character.
To purposely disagree is to have two character traits. One is courage, and the other is creativity.
To Have Courage
The world is creating echo chambers because of filtering. One can pull up the internet or social media and have the articles and advertisements curated to fit that person's perspective. Curating one's experience can lead to even more profound, more radical thinking because the counter positions are removed from the person's skills. We tend to seek that which confirms ourselves instead of challenging ourselves.
There is also the human desire to be liked. Humans want to fit into the tribe. Because of this natural inclination, people will take on views that cause them to fit into the majority. So in an interview with a preacher or with an eldership, ask "what view do you personally take that the group does not agree with?" Usually, there is little fun in being disagreeable in a group. But with this approach, you see two things. The level of Biblical knowledge. You have to be creative enough to know enough to take a view on a topic that might not be readily discussed. Also, you have to see if the group can handle constructive disagreement in which the best ideas win out instead of groupthink.
To Have Creativity
In asking the question about which matters that you individually hold that the group might disagree with, you can see the depth of thought. If the answer is some pat response, this could be an indication of shallow Biblical knowledge. Does the person have the ability to think outside the box? Can the person think for themselves or does the person disagree with the standard points of contention in a church? You can see the level of self-defining the person has.
A healthy group is seeking the best path forward, not always the easiest route. Will an eldership or preacher disagree in a group? If this is hard for the individual, it is a sign the person could be overly concerned with fitting in. A good leader wants to hear the truth, not what makes them feel good.
So how do you get attention in an attention deficit world? How do you get your message across in a society that is competing for time and eyeballs? It is a cut-throat game. So in the realm of evangelism, how do we spread the gospel of Christ in this current age? This book is a good read. It talks about how stuff becomes viral or popular. One solution is to create a scandal. Here is the fundamental principle of the book. "This is the first thesis of the book. Most consumers are simultaneously neophilic—curious to discover new things—and deeply neophobic—afraid of anything too new." To gain attention, you have to stay within these walls. A lot of the material is good insights for a sermon. Finding the balance between new thoughts and old thoughts can be profoundly connecting to the hearer. Another useful idea is that the new favorite topic online is the readers themselves. Putting the place as the subject is the best way to get views. This book also helps you to know which stories will connect and which ones will fall dead. It is a good book for leaders and communicators. It helps you to see what is behind gaining the attention of others. What tactics work and which ones will fall short. It is a good read and a good help for communicators.
So what would happen if a gunfighter, a teacher, and a baby walked into a Church? What would happen? Conflict happens. It happens at home, offices, and even in Churches. People disagree. Correction occurs, defensiveness erupts, and feelings are hurt. There are typically three mindsets that church members can take on in a conflict. Here are the three:
The Honor Mindset.
The “honor” mindset should be pictured like an Old Western gun fight. Someone has insulted another party, and there is some sense of needing to defend themselves from the slight. There is no way the person can overlook the offense. The family name, the position in the congregation, the reputation in town, whatever, has to be defended with swift revenge. The desire to protect one’s “honor” is a must. So when a person has an “honor” mindset, conflict is escalated. You can see this in ministers when someone questions them. He goes on a tirade. Elders can fall trap to this too when someone questions their authority. That person is put in their place. Members leave over honor being questioned. Having the “honor” mindset means that every fight has to be answered. Sometimes we channel the inner Saul by being hurt that a David has killed more men.
The Dignity Mindset.
The “dignity” mindset is healthier than the "honor" mindset. Instead of feeling the need to fight at the “drop of the hat,” the “dignity” mindset can overlook a slight because of the inherent respect the person has for themselves. The mature person can be patient with a slight. People will say inappropriate and rude stuff. In a Church, Office, or even a home, there are numerous mean spirited comments given, and people are socially posturing to gain a “one up man ship” on another. Having the urge to fight back is minimal. One has enough self-respect to overlook “put-downs easily”. The “dignity” mindset has confidence that is rooted in the Lord. Jesus did not need to fight back to those who mocked him because he knew his Father loved him.
The Victim Mindset.
The “Victim” mindset is a "poor pity me" perspective. Someone has hurt your feelings, and instead of moving on with grace, the person desires for others to feel sorry for them. People with the “victim” mindset cannot take correction. Instead of growing from experiences, the “victim” mindset believes that the world should adapt to them. Minsters can have this when getting negative feedback from members. Oh, it is so hard to be a preacher. Members can feel that the church is not treating them right. Whatever happens in the “victim” mindset’s life is outside of their control. The person is at the mercy of others. There are too many Jonah’s sitting on the beach whining about what God needs from them. People with a “victim” mindset rarely grow in the faith because instead of taking ownership of behavior, these people blame everyone else for all the problems.
So how do we host a gathering? This could be a small party or a worship service. As a minister, we are always gathering people together. This could be a lectureship, a dinner party, or a meeting with members. The art of coming together is much more critical than we typically think. We believe that gathering comes organically, but in reality, hosting a good event is an art form. This is a book about how to be a host. The book provides a ton of helpful and practical suggestions for bringing people together. It also is too long. It is a longer read, and maybe I did not need all of the information, but I could see perhaps the wisdom behind all of the research and stories. The book is packed full of advice. Some of this information includes the size of a group and the goals, how to start and end well, how to be inclusive to protect a group gathering, how to host, and how to handle the business of a meeting. As a leader or a gatherer of people, this book is excellent. I will recommend it to leaders.
Sometimes people in the Church can look around the community and feel defeated. How can a tiny congregation in a massive community create an impact in the town? The list of hindrances can add up significantly. We do not have the resources, we do not have the hours, and we do not have the people to make a meaningful difference. One can become downright cynical about the possibility of creating an impression for Christ in the town. Sports, entertainment, Rotary, and Netflix all compete for the attention of the world. How can a little Church even have a speck of "care" in such a crowded space?
When the "woe is us" thinking starts to take over, we need to remind ourselves that the great commission was given to just eleven people. Yes, eleven, remember that Judas departed from the core. So when Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, he is speaking to only eleven men. These eleven disciples were the ones that started the tremendous work of evangelism the world--not just in the community of Jerusalem, or Galilee, and even Rome, but the entire landscape of the earth. Two thousand years later, the majority of people across each continent have heard about Jesus Christ.
Too often congregations feel that size is everything. If we only had a bigger budget or more members, than we could change this town for Christ, but this is human thinking. Instead, God can take only eleven people that were dedicated to the cause and spread his message to the remotest regions of the world. God does not need numbers; he needs hearts. The God that whittles down the army from 22,000 to 300 to prove His ability to do all things is the same God that can use eleven average disciples to change the world.
So the next time that evangelism seems too big, too complicated, or too threatening, remember that God started with eleven—and think about what He accomplished through them. Imagine what he can do through your tiny group also.
This book is old, and just as relevant for today is the current New York Times Bestseller. The longer I am in ministry, the more I see dysfunction, stress, pain, unhealthy in ministry couples. It is incredible the amount of pain that couples in ministry carry around. This book was read to continue to understand the dynamics of being in ministry. The book is numerous stories that are true from couples that experienced a wide span of crises. It might have been money issues, transition issues, affairs, conflict in leadership, and working with other ministers on staff. What I loved about the book was that the stories hit home. You see the pain and the process of overcoming the situation. The stories would end well or poorly, which is pretty standard in preaching. At the end of the chapter, a counselor would reflect on the stories with helpful advice. The book is short and super helpful. For those in ministry, you will relate to the stories, and find help and hope for the future — an excellent book for preachers and couples in ministry.
This was a great book. If you have ever wondered how people operate, this is a book for you. It does with the idea of overconfidence, how people are bad at predicting what they will do in the specific situation, how the state of mind influences you, and how stereotypes can create problems in reasoning. It talks about getting over yourself too. This book is full of great stories that would work great for illustrations. So often we create stories in our minds that we want to believe. Without facts, we make them up. You see a lot of advice on how to think better too. Sometimes when people do not agree with us, we believe we are right, and they are biased. Instead of looking at the facts, we will label them biased or judgmental. When we do this, we see ourselves as the right ones and those who do not see it as we do, as jaded in some way. We also make people think about something in our minds. We are terrible at reading people. There is much more than I could say about this book, but you got to read it. It is going to be in the top five for the year.
Years ago, I read "Power in the Pulpit," and it was fantastic. This book is not. "Power" really created a whole system of preaching, while this book felt more like the authors were making comments about the direction of preaching, or current developments in preaching. It was more like essays on the art of preaching. Of course, this does not mean there was not valuable wisdom in the book. The authors make some needed and astute observations. These are two men who are truly students of preaching. These guys too have the advantage of age and wisdom. Numerous times the authors push back on some of the forms of preaching that glorifies the speaker and not the Savior. One of the needed pieces of wisdom is the hypercritical nature of preachers. Sometimes we are the hardest on one another. Preachers will tear down others to build themselves up. Another good insight was the nature of the feedback we get. Sometimes it is over the top nice, and other times it is over the bottom negative. Usually, we are in the middle. This is a good book for thinking through a few areas of preaching, but if you are going to read one book from these guys, stay with "Power in the Pulpit." That book is fantastic. This book is good.
Matthew is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. He has a beautiful wife named Charity and two precious children named Gabrielle and Noah. He has graduated from the Brown Trail School of Preaching, Heritage Christian University with his Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies, Lipscomb University with his Master’s of Arts in Biblical Studies, and Freed-Hardeman University with his Master’s of Divinity degree, and Harding School of Theology with his Doctorate of Ministry degree. His articles have appeared in the World Evangelist, the Highway to Holiness, The West Virginia Christian, The Christian Echo, The Firm Foundation, Church Growth, the Gospel Advocate; and the Rocky Mountain Christian.