Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Transformational Discipleship - Book Review

There seems to be a definite proclivity for a number of Christian authors to title their books with multisyllabic adjectival words. I’m not sure of the motive or origin of such verbosity, but it sure does catch one’s eye.

Such is the case of Transformational Discipleship: how people really grow.

The book is a product of three authors who work minister for LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley and Philip Nation all have had varied ministry backgrounds so there is no question concerning their credentials. It is also the product of an extensive research project by LifeWay Research. Thus there are some references and statistics included, however, the authors do a good job to keep this to a minimum.

(Transformational Discipleship follows on the heels of Transformational Church (2010) by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer also of LifeWay.)

TD is aimed primarily at pastors and church leaders who desire to stimulate Christians to become transformed and committed believers who live to serve Christ as opposed to uninspired believers who pay their one hour per week dues every Sunday. The goal and motivation of TD is admirable. Unfortunately much of the material is not new or unique; it is repackaged inside of a different verbal format.

A couple of thoughts struck me as I read this volume.

1.    Chapter 1, “Deficient Discipleship,” and Chapter 2, “Disciple to Win,” read like sermons. If they were not originally, they would be excellent. (Perhaps even Chapter 3 also.)

2.    This volume is motivational in content with limited practical advice. Like I mentioned, a lot of it reads like a previously preached sermon.

With that being said, there are spiritual golf nuggets to be found in the mine. I found Chapter 6, “The Discipline Lens,” to contain some pointed practical information concerning spiritual discipline which is key to producing transformed disciples.

The final word is this: If you’re a new pastor or just stepping into  a leadership role in the church, TD will serve you well. You’ll gain some motivation insight and practical application.


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by B&H Publishing Group for a fair and forthright review.

Monday, June 8, 2015

A History of Christianity - Book Review

Every Christian, absolutely every Christian, should have some basic knowledge of the history of his faith. He does not need to be a historical scholar, but rather an informed believer. The question becomes from where does one draw that knowledge?

You could scour the internet and peruse a countless number of websites trying to piece together a cognitive history of the faith. But that would be time consuming and surely a bit frustrating. Not to mention who would you trust?

Or you could get into your possession this book: A History of Christianity: An Introductory Survey by Joseph Early Jr. Dr. Early is associate professor of religion in the School of Theology at Campbellsville University. He has a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has dedicated his scholarly research to the field of Christian history.

Dr. Early has provided a concise (if you consider 504 pages concise) history of the Christian faith that includes, within the 504 pages, endnotes, an invaluable bibliography for further research, a name index and a subject index. It is all a believer needs to get a grasp on the history of his faith.

A History of Christianity is a time travel experience from the time Jesus was born right up to the 21st century. Early begins with a chapter entitled “Jesus and the World into Which He Was Born” that starts us off at day one. He then guides us to the Reformation providing insight into how the Catholic Church gradually distorted the true faith. Three chapters then direct us through the development of the Reformation focusing on the major personalities. Dr. Early steers us through the next 500 plus years right to the 21st century.

This book serves two primary purposes. First it provides the believer with the basics of Christian history and second it should certainly whet the appetite of the historically inclined to do further reading on the subject.

The volume is a masterpiece of succinct history and should be in the library of every Christian. It is a must read for every Christian.

Disclosure: This book was provided to me by B&H Academic Publishing for a fair and honest review.