June 2010


I’m a bit of an overachiever when it comes to reading.  Oh sure, I believe that it’s entirely possible that I can read the entire thirteen volume series of A Series of Unfortunate Events over the course of commercial breaks of NBC Nightly News, but my actual reading time often gets interrupted by church emergencies, falling asleep on the couch with a book in hand, and the occasional land shark attack.  Nevertheless, I fully intend to tackle these books this summer.  That’s right: ten books in ten weeks.  A veritable decabyte of reading.

Editor’s note: Perhaps you should make #11 a dictionary.

Here they are, in no particular order…

  1. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change, Paul David Tripp. The title alone used enough ink that the publisher had to charge 28% more.  But I started Tripp’s book last year and had to put it down after two chapters due to a land shark attack.  I would explain what it’s about, but I’m paying by the word and the book’s subtitle used up all the availab
  2. Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional, John G. Miller.  The author of Question Behind the Question is back with a great book on improving the performance of your business, church, etc.  This book has been taunting me from the shelf, whispering for me to pick it up and peruse ever since I bought it.
  3. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, Andy Stanley.  The megachurch pastor’s pastor always delivers.  Can’t wait to see where this path takes me.  Pun intended.
  4. What to Say to a Porcupine: 20 Humorous Tales that Get to the Heart of Customer Service, Richard S. Gallagher.  I know nothing about this one, but it looked fun.  And it was on sale.  And any book with the words “porcupine,” “humorous,” and “customer service” is okay by me.
  5. Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion, Wayne Cordeiro.  I don’t feel burned out.  I don’t particularly smell burned out.  But I’ve heard enough people say this book is money that I need to read it just in case I ever get burned out.
  6. Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim, J.D. Greear.  The Summit’s lead pastor may or may not have promised to fire me if I didn’t read his book and give it a very positive review.  So I can say in advance faith: “five stars, two thumbs up, I laughed…I cried…much better than Cats.”
  7. The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You, John Ortberg.  I’ll admit that I feel like I should be drinking a cappuccino, wearing a beret, and playing a lute while typing that title, but a trusted friend gave it to me and he swears it’s good, so I’ll bet it’s good.
  8. Autobiography of George Mueller, George Mueller.  I refuse to explain further.
  9. Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck.  These guys have a good track record (they also wrote Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be).  No land shark in the world will keep me away from this one.
  10. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, David Platt.  I felt like hot pastoral stuff when the publisher sent me an advance preview copy in the mail.  Not many people got an advance preview copy of this particular book, mind you.  It was just me…and 16 other members of our staff…and people who used to lead small groups in the 80’s…and a guy named “Big Stu” whose official mailing address includes the description “cellblock 157.”  So even though I’m not as hot as I thought, I’m still readin’ it, because free is good.

Did I miss anything?  What would you say needs to fit into my ten-week reading marathon?

It’s time once again for the Official Annual Danny Franks Recommended Book Reading List for Summer, or O.A.D.F.R.B.R.L.(f)S., for short.  If you fancy yourself a good beach read and are looking for something slightly more intriguing than a medical textbook and slightly less lascivious than Danielle Steele, I’m your guy.  Here are my top seven picks that ought to be in your canvas book bag this year…

Personal Spirituality:

  • The Beautiful Fight, Gary Thomas.  The author of Sacred Marriage is back with a great book on pursuing holiness in our everyday lives.  If you’ve never read any of Gary’s stuff, this is a good place to start.  I reviewed it here.
  • A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, Paul Miller.  I’m about to pass a church-wide law, complete with punishment for the disobedient, that everyone should read this book (you’ll remember we talked about it quite a bit back in December).  You say, “A book on prayer sounds boring with a capital BO.”  I say you’re full of beans and need to repent.  Read it…good stuff.
  • The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges.  Bridges takes us on a journey to discover that personal holiness is not simply the responsibility of the Holy Spirit, it’s our responsibility as well.  It’s a short little book that will help you rethink personal disciplines.  Plus you feel wicked smart after reading a book with a title like that.

Ministry:

Leadership:

  • Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, Kerry Patterson et al.  I just finished this book a couple of weeks ago.  The think tank authors weave incredible stories of social experiments into the real world of how we can leverage change in our own lives and the lives of those we lead.
  • Sticky Teams, Larry Osborne.  Possibly my favorite book on leadership in the last two years.  Larry is the pastor of North Coast Church in California, and the book is full of decades of wisdom on leading your board, your staff, and your volunteers.  If you get one, buy an extra copy for me…I spilled Goo Gone on mine and it disappeared.

Now in full disclosure, seven is the number of perfection (I’m pretty sure that’s a Bible verse somewhere), but ten is the number of OCD, which I have.  So what are the other three books you’d recommend?  Comment below.  (Overachievers can check out last year’s list as well.)

Coming tomorrow: my personal reading list for the summer.

We continue a several-week series called Topical Tuesdays, where you pick the topic and I make up answers.  You can add your topic / question to the list by commenting on this post.  Today’s question comes from “Anonymous” (not his real name…I don’t think). You can read the full question of “Anonymous” here.  But here’s the edited version:

If I give 10% of my income every month, that leaves very little to go into savings.  As the head of my household, isn’t it my responsibility to provide for my family?  As a husband and father yourself, can you share anything that you have learned through the years that might help navigate these types of decisions?

Anonymous, I’m going to quote a past president on this one: Walk tall and carry a big stick.

Oops.  Wrong past president.  I meant to say: I feel your pain. (Lip clenched. Thumb protruding slightly.  Big Mac bulging from coat pocket.)

First, a disclaimer and a few key thoughts.  Disclaimer: most of these lines in this blog were stolen from Dave Ramsey.  Key thoughts: tithing is not your “I Hope God Will Love Me More” card.  God’s crazy about you already.  It’s not like he’s sitting in heaven warming up a lightning bolt that’s directly tied to 10% of your W-2 form.  (He saves that for bigger sins like watching The Bachelor.)

But you asked my opinion, and that’s what you’re going to get.  As a Christian, I believe that I have a mandate to give generously (Malachi 3:10, Deuteronomy 15:11).  Further, the Summit teaches “grace giving.”  In other words: 10% is the floor, not the ceiling.  Merriem and I have practiced tithing throughout our marriage, and in recent years we’ve been able to add “grace giving” to the mix.  Is it easy?  Nope.  Is it convenient?  Nah.  Fun?  Pain-free?  A walk in the park?  Nyet, nada, no way Jose’.

But it’s a step of obedience.  And our obedience has resulted in the fact that we’ve never had a need.  Oh, we’ve had our share of wants – right now, I want a car that has working AC when it’s 142 degrees outside (that convenience happened about three weeks ago just in time for pitting out season).  But our needs have always been met.

Don’t hear this as a health-and-wealth message.  I didn’t say that if you give God your Honda, he’ll give you an Escalade with a built-in espresso maker.  I’m saying that when I took a step of faith and gave God what’s rightfully his, he’s taken care of me.  Sometimes he’s freaked me out while he’s doing it, but he’s always come through.

What I think you’re talking about, Anonymous, is a situation of priority and focus.  I fully agree with you that you should provide for your family (1 Timothy 5:8).  I also think that there’s tremendous wisdom in having money set aside in savings (Proverbs 21:20, NIV).  But I think that it’s possible to work towards those things and still give as the Bible describes.

I’ll tell you my journey in a nutshell: a couple of years ago we got sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Although we didn’t have a balance on our credit card, we did have a sizeable payment on a vehicle that was dropping like a rock in value.  And so we followed the plan of the aforementioned financial guru Dave Ramsey: we set aside 1000 bucks in a starter emergency fund (that took a few months).  Then we aggressively paid off the vehicle (that happened a couple of months ago after two years’ worth of pretty decent sacrifice).  And now we’re building a full emergency fund of three months’ worth of expenses, while at the same time saving to purchase a replacement car with cash (let’s hope our rate of savings whips the rate of crappiness on the car).  During that time we held off on contributing to retirement (some people said we were stupid) and there were lots of “wants” we did without.  But we were focused, and now we’re realizing the reward of that focus by not having the payment from H-E-double-hockey-sticks looming over us.

And throughout that time, we’ve attempted to give generously.  Holding back our tithe would have meant that we could have easily paid off the car or built an emergency fund much sooner.  But it would have also meant that we weren’t engaged on the heart level in what God is doing around us.  And before any readers get self-righteous and make a snide comment about what kingdom engagement means, check out Matthew 6:21.

Anonymous, the two resources that I’d recommend to you are The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, a great little book that will rock your financial mind.  I have a few extra copies and would be happy to give you one.  I’d also recommend my friend Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.  (I’ve never actually met him, but since I’ve quoted him several times in the blog and just tried to sell a copy of his book, I’ll bet he likes me.  Maybe I’ll give him a ride in my A/C-free car.  This winter, of course.)

Today’s blog post is specifically for pastors or church staff people.  If you’re not one of those, you can go back to watching Dog the Bounty Hunter, or whatever it is that unpaid Christians do in their spare time. (Personally, I memorize chapters of Amos, but maybe that’s just me.)

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I heart guest services in the local church.  This spring, I’ve been very fortunate to spend time with some of the most talented guest services practitioners in the country.  These are people who toss out terms like “guest touch points” and “volunteer on-ramps” like Dum Dum pops in a Main Street parade.  I’ve learned a tremendous amount from them and gotten a glimpse inside how they do first impressions at their respective churches.

The network was the brainchild of Mark Waltz from Granger Community Church, the guy who literally wrote the book on First Impressions.  Mark brought together 13 of us for some intensive and insightful conversations on the role of volunteers, guests, and community within the local church.  The experience had a profound impact on me, and I walked away as a stronger leader and with a greater vision for my role here at the Summit.

(And a pocket full of Starbucks gift cards, but that’s another story.)

Why am I telling you all this?  So you’ll be overcome with jealousy and spend the rest of your days wishing you could walk in my shoes.  No seriously, I tell you because Mark is doing it again this fall.  That’s right: you’ll benefit from the guinea pigs that were known as “our group.”  But if the movie career of Tracy Morgan has taught us anything, it’s that being a guinea pig ain’t too shabby.

If you’re a lead pastor or guest services director, or you’re a lead pastor who oversees a guest services director, or you’re a guest services director who has a teddy bear of a lead pastor, you need to be there or get your person there or lavish empty praise on the teddy bear…um…lead pastor in order to get there.  I’ll be honest: if I didn’t look so sketchy in a mullet wig and aviator sunglasses, I’d go incognito and attend all over again.

So get into the conversation.  Learn, grow, stretch, and figure out what’s next.  Registration for the fall opens in the next few weeks, and you can keep your eyes peeled to Mark’s blog for more details.

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