The practice of flipped learning not only holds the promise of making teaching more effective and more fun but also leads naturally to avenues of productivity in scholarship and service, according to Robert Talbert in his book Flipped Learning: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty. The traditional higher education teaching model presents information in the form of lectures to large groups of students who then go away and undertake by themselves higher-order learning activities involving application, analysis and evaluation. In the flipped model, the students study the information by themselves, and then in group class time they undertake the more cognitively complex learning activities for which access to the teacher’s expertise is much more necessary.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

What kind of leadership would you need to undertake the largest engineering project ever, where success depends on the use of technologies which have not yet even been invented, and where a well-resourced team of experts had previously failed with massive loss of financial resources and lives? Sam Chand explores the issues in his book Bigger Faster Leadership: Lessons from the Builders of the Panama Canal.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

You cannot take your church where it needs to be if you can’t identify where it is right now, according to Chris Sonksen in his book When Your Church Feels Stuck: 7 Unavoidable Questions Every Leader Must Answer. The book describes the various “phases” of a church’s life and then poses 7 key questions relating to mission, strategy, values, metrics, team alignment, culture and services.

It is interesting to compare the book with Tony Morgan’s The Unstuck Church, released at almost the same time. Sonksen’s stages of a church’s lifecycle are launch, utopia, whirlwind, increase, merry-go-round, and slow death, whereas Morgan’s stages are launch, momentum growth, strategic growth, sustained health, maintenance, preservation and life support. Sonksen’s book focuses on seven strategic questions which are relevant regardless of which stage of the lifecycle you are in, whereas Morgan’s book describes the different actions a church needs to take at different stages of the lifecycle. In my view there is value in reading both books.

Sonksen’s book is written through the perspective of a series of consultations provided to a pastor named Jeremy and his church. Although this adds some human interest to the content, I frequently found myself wishing that the book had focused more on the content, perhaps supported by more illustrations from actual churches, rather than on the presumably fictitious story.

There are seven phases of a church’s lifecycle, according to Tony Morgan in his book The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health. These are: launch, momentum growth, strategic growth, sustained health, maintenance, preservation and life support. The book describes the characteristics which help you diagnose which stage your church is in, and it also provides guidance as to what actions you should take to maximise your church’s mission at each stage.

There are a number of other books available advising church planters on the steps they need to take in the early phases of a church’s life, so I suspect that most of the readers of this book will be most interested in the advice applicable to the “sustained health” and “maintenance” phases of a church’s life. I expect that a lot of church leaders who imagine their churches to be in the “sustained health” phase will be upset to discover that they are actually in the “maintenance” phase, but that is where this book is most useful: in helping you to discover what actions you should be taking before it is too late to do so.

The advice provided by the author includes:

  • You should be ruthless about eliminating any division, particularly at the leadership level
  • Foolish churches budget by looking at what came in last year, adding a percentage as a faith portion, and then planning to spend it all; wise churches plan to spend less than they receive, giving them the opportunity to be generous
  • Churches are typically in the maintenance season for months or even years before they realise it
  • Churches in the maintenance phase are often financially healthier than churches experiencing strategic growth, because mature believers give more than unbelievers and new believers
  • When giving is strong but the church has become ineffective at its mission, it is not unusual for them to live in denial
  • The primary barrier to health for an inward-focused church is creating environments designed to reach people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus

In my view this is a very helpful book, and I highly recommend it. There is a companion assessment tool on the Unstuck Church website which provides further assistance to church leaders in diagnosing the life stage of their church.

As a church leader or member, you must pay close attention to the message the children and young adults of your church and community are sending to you. The way the next generation tells you that your church has lost touch with them is simple—they stop coming, according to Lee Kricher in his book For a New Generation: A Practical Guide for Revitalizing Your Church.

The book tells the story of how Amplify Church, the author’s church, changed from a dying church into a growing church, and the author details five strategies which were key to the turnaround success: Adopt a New Mindset, Identify the Essentials, Reduce the Distractions, Elevate Your Standards, and Build a Mentoring Culture.

While those five strategies were obviously crucial to the turnaround, they do not in themselves explain what it is that made the church so attractive for children and young people. A crucial preliminary step seems to have been locating one or more other churches which are successfully reaching children and young people, and identifying key elements which can be copied or adapted to the local context. This preliminary step seems to have been vital both to giving the church’s leadership confidence that a turnaround was possible and to providing inspiration for creating environments which are compelling for children and young people.

There is absolutely no reason upstart digital companies have to supplant established firms. There is no reason new businesses have to be the only engines of innovation. The problem, according to David Rogers in his book The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age, is that—in many cases—management simply doesn’t have a playbook to follow to understand and then address the competitive challenges of digitization. This book aims to fulfil that role, helping you understand, strategize for, and compete on the digital playing field.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

If we’re not intentional about the vision, we will lose it. We will end up going somewhere we don’t want to go and becoming something we don’t want to become, according to Shawn Lovejoy in his book Be Mean About the Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters. On the other hand, maintaining the vision over time leads to success. Everyone starts out with a vision, but few finish with one. This book aims to describe how to finish with vision.

The book describes the importance of vision for Christian ministry, and church leadership in particular. Aspects of vision discussed include:

  • How to have a holy wrestling match to discover your God-given vision
  • How to keep the vision alive in yourself and in others
  • How to identify a vision hijacker and keep the vision from being hijacked
  • How to get things back on track when the vision is not working out
  • How to finish well and release the vision to a new leader gracefully

Many of the author’s concepts will be familiar to those who have previous familiarity with the work of Bill Hybels and Jim Collins, but the book as a whole provides a new perspective on the vision lifecycle of a church leader. I found the advice on finishing well to be particularly helpful, and I would warmly commend this book to any church leader.

Christians are tired of being the laughingstock of late-night television; they are also angered by the poor results the church is seeing as it seeks to be a transformative presence in society, according to Neil Cole in his book One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love. This book aims to offer  an alternative that is biblical, effective, subversive, and loving, all at the same time, to Christians who are tired of being characterized by the world as angry people known only for what they are against.

The author compares the Corinthian church, which was infected by immorality, divisions and class distinctions, with the Galatian church, which was well-behaved but a little too legalistic, and argues that Paul was much more strident in condemning the sin of the Galatians than the many sins of the Corinthians. The greater sin is in fact that of attempting to fulfil God’s promise with our own ingenuity and effort, or what the author calls “do-it-yourself spirituality”, something that plagues the church today.

The second half of the book discusses what Jesus said and did about wealth, welfare, women in crisis and worship:

  • Being less that generous is irresponsible and lacks faith.
  • Jesus did not help people who deserved it; instead he gave grace – unmerited favour – to those who did not deserve it.
  • Jesus brought lasting change to the way women were perceived in society.
  • Jesus struck hard at the religion of his day without pause or respect, trampling on their practices and denouncing their leaders.

This is an original and thought-provoking book, which highlights a number of sins and dysfunctions of modern churches and Christianity as it is currently practised. There are enough revolutionary ideas to make any reader uncomfortable.

Fewer than 1 percent of CEOs participate in CEO peer advisory groups, yet most of the high-performing CEOs who are members of a group say their experience has lifted their organizations and changed their lives beyond measure, according to Leon Shapiro and Leo Bottary in their book The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth and Success. While the CEO’s life can be a lonely one, it does not have to be.

My full review of the book is available at my business book reviews website.

If a fraud occurs, the church will lose more than just money. Donor confidence will rightly be weakened, and they may decide to reallocate their contributions to other organizations. Further, the reputation of the church and its pastor in the local community could be permanently damaged, according to Rollie Dimos in his book Integrity at Stake: Safeguarding Your Church From Financial Fraud.

This short book provides a useful discussion of a subject which most church leaders are reluctant to think about, but which can lead to devastating consequences if not dealt with appropriately. The first section provides a brief discussion of some risks faced by churches and Christian organisations, including risk management, controls, how to recover from an instance of fraud, and tools to reduce the risk of fraud, and the second section provides twelve different cases studies of actual instances of fraud.

The book does provide an appendix on how to perform a fraud risk assessment and another on performing an internal audit, but it is not a comprehensive resource on financial integrity in churches. In my opinion the book will be most useful for its case studies  providing cautionary tales which should inspire church leaders to implement appropriate risk management measures.