2015 Reading List

Thank God for another GREAT year of reading! For more tips on how to increase your reading load, check out this FREE resource.


11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern, and Move Into the Future by Elmer Towns, Ed Stetzer, and Warren Bird
The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers by Johnny Saldana
Leading Change Without Losing It by Carey Niewhof
The Beginners Guide to Building An Audience by Jeff Goins
A Life That Wins by Mike Holt
A Little Exercise For Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke


The Grave Robber by Mark Batterson
The Ten Most Influential Churches of the Past Century by Elmer Towns
The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches, and the Small Thinking That Divides Us by Karl Vaters
Franchising McChurch: Feeding America’s Obsession With Easy Christianity.
Cultures and Organizations by Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, and Michael Minkov
Christian Spiritual Formation: An Integrated Approach for Personal and Relational Wholeness by Diane J. Chandler


Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek by Michael Hyatt
Post-Charismatic 2.0 by Robby McAlpine
Deliberate Simplicity by Dave Browning
Churchless by George Barna and David Kinnaman


Organizational Behavior and Management by John Ivancevich, Robert Konopaske, and Michael Matteson
Teams That Thrive: 5 Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Ryan T. Hurting and Warren Bird
Content Marketing for Churches by Michael Lukaszewski
Christ the Healer by F.F. Bosworth
Do Over by Jon Acuff


Mission Creep by Larry Osborne
Models of the Church by Avery Dulles
Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future by Mark Husbands and Jeffrey P. Greenmail
Desiring God by John Piper
My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda Rousey


The Future Church by John L. Allen
Futurecast: What Today’s Trends Mean for Tomorrow’s World by George Barna
41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush
Church Turned Inside Out: A Guide for Designers, Refiners, and Re-Aligners by Linda Bergquist and Allan Karr
The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time by Tom Sine


Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church by Neil Cole
Multivariate Data Analysis by J. Hair, W. Black, B. Babin, and R. Anderson
The Meeting of the Waters: 7 Global Currents That Will Propel the Future Church by F. Kling
Holy Hush: 7 Things Your Church Won’t Tell You by Regi Campbell


The Pastor Theologian by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson
Small Groups as Complex Systems: Formation, Coordination, Development, and Adaptation by Holly Arrow, Joseph McGrath, and Jennifer Bergdahl.
Serve the Community of the Church: Christians as Leaders and Ministers by Andrew Clarke
Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis


A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership by A.D. Clarke
Leadership Roles of the Old Testament: King, Prophet, Priest, and Sage by M.E. Stevens
At the Feet of Rabbi Gamaliel: Rabbinic Influence in Paul’s Teachings by David Friedman
Groups in Context by J. Gillette and M. McCollom
Dictionary of Christian Spirituality by G. G. Scorgie, et al.

A Work of the Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal
The Making of a Leader by Robert J. Clinton
Redefining Leadership by Joseph Stowell
Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church (Field Guide) by Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson
Spark: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication by Todd Wilson

The Cost of Moral Leadership: the Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders
Sending Capacity Not Seating Capacity: Why a Church Gains the Most When It Sends Its Best by JD Greear and Mike McDaniel
Focus by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson
Revangelical: Becoming the Good News People We’re Meant to Be by Lance Ford


The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News by Tullian Tchividjian
Reveal: Where are you? by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson
Follow Me: What’s Next for You? by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson
The Crusades by Hilaire Belloc
Einstein by Walter Isaacson

The 2nd Chair – Repost

I have a close affinity for “2nd chair” leaders. I spent 5 years in the Army and 5 years on staff at a large church and I know what it is like to be “A” leader but not “THE” leader. In the church world, a 2nd chair leader typically plays the role of associate pastor. For my non-church going friends the associate pastor is typically the grunt who accomplishes a variety of tasks ranging from office work to youth ministry to hospital visits to toilet repair. Obviously, the job description depends on the size of the congregation and the leadership culture of the local church. Nevertheless,  2nd chair leadership can be terribly frustrating at times.  I want to share a few thoughts directed toward the staff/associate person who is struggling in their current role:

1. Take a deep breath and remember – we all work for JESUS first. It doesn’t matter if you are in the Army or on staff at Third Baptist Church of Dunedin, FL. Your boss may be unrealistically demanding, lazy, incompetent or all of the above. Don’t use that as an excuse to not give Christ excellence in your current assignment. Remember who you REALLY work for (oh yeah, you can exhale that deep breath you just took).

2. The Bible says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I know you have good ideas. I know you are crazy gifted. Don’t let it get to your head. Stay humble. Don’t be disrespectful. Honor your leader and God will honor you.

3. EVERYTHING you are dealing with now can be used as a great learning experience…if you let it. Perspective is everything. I constantly draw on lessons I learned both good and bad from my years as a staff pastor and lower enlisted soldier. I might not have appreciated those situations at the time, but I am better off because of them.

4. You are not just some underling. You are not a slave. You are not the hired help. You are called, chosen, and empowered by God to lead. Let that truth be the source of your job satisfaction. I’m not saying there won’t be days that you will want to quit. What I’m saying is that when those days come, remember who you are and who God has called you to be. There’s an army of us out here who believe in you.

Let’s get to work.


Sunday Thoughts – Monday Edition

1. I hope you had a GREAT Christmas Day!

2. The books for my final semester of PhD course work arrived last week. Merry Christmas to me!

3. I’ve been soaking up every minute of my downtime. Movies, games, rest, and tons of food.

4. Yesterday GraceLife Church gathered for our last service of 2015. Praise God for a great of year struggle, growth, health, and new life!

5. Don’t wait until next week to attack your goals. Get busy TODAY.

6. Yesterday was further proof that this NFL season is insane. All I know is that if the Chiefs and Redskins make it to the Super Bowl I may have to take a year off…from everything.

7. Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas (Eve)

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:2,6-7

No one is poor who has family and friends.

No one is born to be a failure.

It’s a wonderful life because in Christ we have life, peace, and purpose!

Have a GREAT Christmas!

Parenting by Putting Feet to Faith – Repost

I love the phase of life that I’m in. I have a teenager who is learning to drive and a 5th grader who is going on 20. I love being a father!

However, parenting is tough. It’s not tough because of the cliché issues associated with raising respectful, God-loving kids. It’s tough because every encounter with my children brings me face-to-face with my own shortcomings.

When I give a lecture on the importance of being honest and open, the Holy Spirit reminds me to practice what I preach. When I blow up over something relatively trivial, the Holy Spirit gently reminds me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. When I hand out discipline via the removal of a privilege or blessing (TV, video game, etc.), I am forced to confront my propensity for works-based theology.

Parenting forces us to put feet to our faith. If we aren’t living it out at home, we are probably not living it at all.

Jiu Jitsu Journeys

This year I competed for the first time in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I invested a lot of time and sweat getting ready for these two events and I felt very prepared both physically and technically. However, there is one thing that can never be replaced on the training mats or during a conditioning circuit: Experience.

It is hard to replicate the flood of norepinephrine that washes over your body before a fight. The loss of hearing…The tunnel vision…The almost Instagram-like filter that alters the colors around you…What a fascinating and fun experience!

Here’s what I learned:

If you are comfortable in worst case scenarios then there are no worst case scenarios. Confidence does not come from “points”. It does not come from having everything figured out. It comes from keeping it simple, trusting in your training, and believing that the one in you is greater than the giant attacking you.

I faced 3 stronger and larger opponents. I was put in some dangerous positions. However, with the exception of my first competition, they did not finish me. I survived…and for a 36-year-old preacher/professor with more battle wounds then I can count…I call that WINNING! 10 years ago I was medically discharged from the Army with back issues and an intestinal disease that should have permanently sidelined me. 4 years ago I weighed well over 300 lbs and I was a physical mess. Yeah, I’d definitely call Saturday a HUGE victory for me and my family! To God be all of the glory!

No regrets!

For more on my BJJ journey or my health journey, check out these posts:

Training Camp

Still Fighting My Fight

7 Lessons From Training Camp

You Win or You Learn

10 Things I Have Learned From Jiu Jitsu

How to Get and STAY Healthy

Good Gains


Sunday Thoughts – Monday Edition

1. GraceLife Christmas was a HUGE success!

2. Thanks to our GraceLife Kids team, the worship team, and everyone who brought food and helped us have a GREAT Christmas service and party!

3. Special thanks to the setup and teardown crew for serving in the trenches week in and week out!

4. 2015 was a record breaking year for GraceLife in so many ways. Thank God for growing His people through discipleship via the local church!

5. This is my favorite week of the year. Time to reflect, decompress with the family, and eat!

6.On another note,  I admire Steve Harvey. It is so easy to mock the mistakes of others behind the safety of our cowardly keyboards. Give the man a break.

7. Merry Christmas!!

Love All

IMG_3622I love this time of the year! Everyone loves a good party and what better reason to celebrate than Jesus! This Sunday GraceLife Church will get our party on! At 10am we’ll wrap up our Advent Conspiracy series, enjoy a special presentation from GraceLife Kids ministry,  and afterwards we’ll celebrate Jesus with lunch and Christmas music. Come hungry and ready to celebrate!

The Church, the Trinity, and Growing Up – Repost

How does the Church “grow up?”

We can learn a lot from the Trinity. In fact, Trinitarian authority has huge implications for the future of church practice. Willimon argues that the Trinity stands as our example for community and mutuality. In the Trinity, one witnesses the perfect execution of multiple roles within a singular body. For example, the Holy Spirit is simultaneously a “witness”, comforter, counselor, and conduit of power. The Son is savior, healer, intercessor, and Lord. The Father is creator, ruler, and almighty. All three have distinct roles and yet all three are equal in their divinity. The Spirit flows from the son and yet does not “serve” the Son in the way that one serves a master. One could argue that the various functions of church life and leadership demand the same type of Trinitarian community that is found within the Godhead. For example, a pastor must lead, but not at the expense of equipping and empowering others to lead and make disciples. In the Godhead, we see no place for the centralized lordship of an individual church leader.  Each of the various “duties” of the church leader must work together toward the mission of the Church: the making of disciples. In fact, the leadership gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-13 seem to reflect a  balanced interaction that must take place within the framework of God’s sovereign mission for the Church.

So, how do we “grow up” in Christ? Shared power, responsibility, and accountability may be a great place to start.

Kariatlis, Philip. Affirming koinonia ecclesiology: An orthodox perspective.” Phronema 27, no. 1 (May 2012): 51-65.

Willimon, W. H. Pastor: The theology and practice of ordained ministry. Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2002.

Church Leadership Reflections Part 3 – Repost

Church leaders may function as accountants, business leaders, planners, therapists, mediators, and public speakers.[1] However, that is not “what” or “who” ecclesial leaders are. Church leaders are not just professionals. The ecclesial tasks of prayer, administering the sacraments, leading worship, and serving the Bread of Life via preaching and teaching are too big for “professionals” to accomplish on their own.[2] These tasks require a supernatural in-filling and a divine call in order to carry them out faithfully.[3] To stray from a biblical ecclesiology is to lose sight of the source of ecclesial anointing. More than that, the church belongs to Jesus, not pastors, elders, deacon boards, or voting congregations. It is His church and we are His people. It seems that the farther the church moves away from a biblical ecclesiology, the more confusion exists regarding whose church it really is. Ephesians 4:11-13 encapsulates both the “team” nature of ecclesial leadership and the Christological underpinning of biblical ecclesiology:

 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”[4]

Thus, church leaders are called to work together (APEST) and equip the church as we all grow in Christ-likeness. Simply put: “it” is not about us.

Since ecclesial leadership as a science is relatively new, there exists much room within the growing field for both exegetical research and practical teaching that may aid the next generation of church leaders. In the last 30 years, it seems as if the proverbial pendulum swung from one extreme (no leadership theory) all the way to the other extreme (secular based theory). The future of ecclesial leadership is poised for a healthy return “to center.” I am humbled that I get to play a small part in the process.

[1] W. H. Willimon. Pastor: The theology and practice of ordained ministry. (Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2002.) 862-944.

[2] John Piper. Brothers, we are not professionals: A plea to pastors for radical ministry(Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 259.

[3] J. Oswald Sanders. Spiritual leadership: A commitment to excellence for every believer. (Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2007), 525.

[4] Ephesians 4:11-13, ESV