Friday, November 19, 2010

Books I'm Digesting

Next Generation Leader (Andy Stanley): I'm not sure how I managed to miss one of Stanley's first books, especially a book on young leaders in the church. Filled with practical leadership principles and ideas that focus on emerging leadership, this book is quickly becoming one of my favorite leadership books. Stanley writes with a simple-yet-profound accessibility that makes for a quick and memorable read. I can already see how his five principles for next generation leaders--competence, courage, clarity, coaching, and character--are all extremely necessary for my own growth as a young leader. Let's just say that I underlined a lot and wrote quite a bit in the margins.

Adam (Henri Nouwen): Nouwen's final book before he died is part biography, part theological musings about the life of Christ. This is Nouwen's reflection on the life of Adam, a severely handicapped man and one of Nouwen's closest compatriots in the L'Arche community. Nouwen makes numerous comparisons and parallels between Adam's life and the life of Christ, showing how we find God in our weakness and vulnerability instead of strength or relevance. It's not my favorite Nouwen book, but its strength lies in portraying spirituality as a place of authenticity and vulnerability, a place where we are loved by God simply for who we are, not what we necessarily accomplish.

The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer): Having read Bonhoeffer's Life Together earlier this year, I was driven to finally read this 20th century spiritual classic. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister during World War II and was part of a plot to assassinate Hitler, only to end up dying in a concentration camp just weeks before the Allies' victory. This book is his treatise on following Jesus with every we are, not settling for what he calls "cheap grace," but embracing a "come and die" lifestyle in the name of Christ. Much of the book is Bonhoeffer's commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, much like another of my favorite books on discipleship--Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy. Both books are highly recommended.

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger): This was one of the only books I read in my high school English classes that has stuck with me over the years. I picked it up again recently, having seen it sitting on my bookshelf and having the spontaneous desire to read a classic novel. The implications it has for youth ministry are astounding. Holden Caulfield is the epitome of adolescent identity crisis as he longs for the more innocent days of childhood while indulging in adult activities all around New York City. This is a classic for a reason; it feels very ahead of its time for being published in 1951. (If you haven't read this book before, be forewarned: Holden has a potty-mouth). One of my favorite novels.

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