Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Review: Sticky Church

I knew I wanted to read Larry Osborne's new book Sticky Church as soon as I read the title. I would guess that that every pastor and every church has wrestled with the question about how to get people who visit their church to not only stay but how to get them connected. As Osborne points out we've tried just about everything but we still see too many of our people leaving through the back door.

The solution for Osborne and the folks at North Coast Church was to help people "stick" by getting them to be a part of their small group ministry. But the small groups at NCC were not your typical Bible study group or multiplying cell group. Osborne details the process that led him and his ministry team to focus on Sermon based small groups. As a result, those involved in small groups at NCC were given an opportunity to make application from what they heard the previous Sunday in the context of encouraging, accountable relationships.

I found Osborne's book to be extremely helpful in developing my own vision and strategy for ministry but probably not in the way Osborne would have imagined when writing this book. I pastor a rural church where we don't have small groups--we are a small group. I found many of Osborne's comments and principles to be very relevant to our situation and the ministry we are trusting God to develop. Osborne covers everything from preaching, to church health, to relationships, and leadership training. I imagine the principles I gleaned will be most beneficial to the way I give leadership to the local church.

My copy of Sticky Church is now marked up and well worn. My goal now is to go back through the book so I can process again the principles Osborne has shared. Let me share one principle that I found worth the price of the book (although thanks to the good folks at Zondervan I was given this copy to review for free!)

Just recently my kids have discover the joy of Legos, a toy that was a favorite of mine growing up as well. On pages 79-81 Osborne explains why we see such difficulty among people to "jell" with others when forming new relationship. The answer: people are like Legos. Like the little plastic bricks, there are only so many connectors to go around. When those connectors get filled up we find it difficult to make any new connections. When I read this and Osborne’s further application (you’ll just have to buy the book) I felt that both a light bulb went on and a weight was lifted at the same time. It’s not so much that the church is full of cliques; it’s that many of us already have our connectors filled (p.80). Brilliant!

Even if yours is not a church of small groups, or small groups are not yet on your ministry horizon this book is well worth reading. It will stay on my shelf and deserves a second read. Here’s hoping that the Lord uses this book to help our churches become even “stickier”.

[this review can also be found at]

Monday, October 13, 2008

The waiting...

According to the doctor's calculations and the counter on my iGoogle page only six days separate our family of four from its latest member. Somehow that counter jumpped from a number in the 200's to under 100 and now to less than a week. It's strange how the time flies but then comes to a screeching halt when we get so close. Of course the bag is packed, the camera battery is charged, and I know my route the hospital, but man, I hope I'm ready. I suppose I'll have to be.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Book Review: The Blue Parakeet

Any book that forces you to stop, think, and reevaluate what you believe is a book worth reading. Scot McKnight's new book The Blue Parakeet is that kind of book.

McKnight uses an odd encounter with an out of place bird (I won't spoil the story) to illustrate the way many people approach reading the Bible. In particular McKnight's concern is that Christians aren't making the effort to understand those passages in Scripture that seem somewhat out of place from the rest. McKnight suggests that there a number of these passages which are not only being ignored because of their apparent difficulty; some passages are even being silenced by Bible readers today.

It's bad enough that Christians might choose to ignore or silence teachings found in God's Word, but as McKnight argues even worse is the fact that the Church is being harmed as a result. McKnight surveys a number of these "blue parakeet" passages in his book, but focuses in on one teaching that he believes is detrimental to the Body of Christ: the role of women in the church.

As I considered McKnight's story there were a number of points he made that resonated with me, especially related to the general level of biblical ignorance that is present in our churches. The book offered some helpful discussion to help Bible readers better under the text they have. There were other times when McKnight's arguments went in directions that I found some discord with. But even in these points of disagreement, McKnight's witting style caused me to at least reconsider that which I believed to be true.

I did feel that the sections related to the topic of women in ministry tilted the balance of the book beyond what the subtitle (Rethinking How You Read the Bible) indicated the book was to be about. I do not think that the example was out of place; in fact it fit well with the other "hot button topics" McKnight pointed to in order to illustrate his point. I wonder if his passion for the subject would have been better served in a separate work. There did come a point in reading this work that I felt as if I were reading an entirely different book from what had come before.

That being said,
The Blue Parakeet is definitely worth reading and will be a helpful tool for anyone who needs to shore up their own understanding of how they approach and read the Bible.

[This review can also be view at]

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