THE EMERGING LEADER: STEPPING UP IN LEADERSHIP
Peter Shaw & Colin Shaw
I had two reactions on reading this book: in one sense there’s nothing new here (it’s the sort of advice your granny might have given you); yet at the same time, I intuitively started writing another book in my head describing many leaders I have known who, by ignoring the sort of common sense advice offered here, have messed up their organisations and often destroyed their own lives. So while much of its advice focuses on social skills that everyone should have (whether or not they are a leader), a book like this has much to offer the experienced leader as well as those emerging into leadership.
Each chapter offers examples and questions to help you apply it to your own situation ? some of them taken from church life, though it is not specifically about churches or Christian organisations, but is intended for leaders more generally. It covers the foundations of knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and how to identify them in others, and encourages you to think strategically about making progress in leadership.
You won’t find religious buzzwords such as ‘servant leadership’, or their secular equivalents. Instead, the father and son team offer unadorned advice grounded in real-life scenarios aimed at enabling you to become a reflective leader. Church structures often marginalise effective leadership with an overemphasis on committees and consensus, and this will be a useful resource not just for individuals but also for group study. It will help readers to understand leadership and facilitate a practical consideration of how leaders and their teams can operate harmoniously. JD
A STORY OF GOD AND ALL OF US
Roma Downey and Mark Burnett
Hodder & Stoughton
At a time when biblical ignorance is high, isn’t it good that we have products that entice people into considering biblical material? Well, yes ? to a point.
This novel, based on the ten-part mini-series, The Bible, broadcast recently on Channel 5, expands the internal and relational lives of the Bible’s heroes in a way which helps you enter into their struggle as they play out the biblical drama. If the job is to make the Bible read like a novel, it is done quite well. But it’s also a game of ‘spot the difference’, with many changes made for no apparent artistic reason: such as Moses confronting Pharaoh, Daniel in the lions’ den, Nicodemus meeting Jesus. The ‘divine’ Jesus and the ‘human’ Jesus have different feelings and views about his impending death, and the martyrdom of all the apostles bar John are recounted as fact, when historians are not certain.
Hopefully this book (and the TV series) will encourage people to read the Bible. But when they do, they may wonder why the authors would leave them in such ignorance about what the actually Bible says. AP
THE DATING DILEMMA: A Romance Revolution
Rachel Gardner and Andre Adefope
Single people may search the Bible in vain for specific advice on how to conduct modern-day relationships, but in this book Rachel Gardner and Andre Adefope apply principles that hold good for everyone, whether dating or not; the need to put God first in our lives and to be faithful and loving in all our relationships.
Gardner and Adefope give plenty of practical advice on honouring God when dating and don’t shy away from tackling the tricky topic of saving sex for marriage. Their stance may be seen as idealistic by some, yet their obvious commitment to the principlesand boundaries they espouse is very engaging.
My one criticism would be that in an attempt to reach a diverse audience, they try to cover too much ground. Some of the frequently asked questions about dating non-Christians and how to end a relationship would have benefited from further discussion, yet it’s already quite a solid book.
It is probably most appropriate for the student and young adult age group. For those who want to consider the issues in more depth, there are links to further information and some great questions to ponder at the end of each chapter, though I’m unsurewhether most readers would take the time to wrestle with them. The way Gardner and Adefope tackle their subject matter is both refreshing and direct, however, and I’m certain that this book will be a great help to many single Christians and those working with them. CN
JESUS MYTHS DVD: Volume One
I believe in the use of film and DVD to argue for faith in Jesus. I believe a well-created bit of video can catch people’s hearts and minds, answer questions and grab their imaginations. When I picked up this DVD I assumed that those who had created it felt the same way.
If I’m honest, it was the most awful piece of work in this area I have seen for years. The menu gave a list of options of ‘myths’ about Jesus. The subjects of the video clips were the kind of questions Christians want people to be asking, but actually very few British people are. The videos were a series of middle-aged men who looked like academics (all but one American) telling the listener that they were stupid if they didn’t believe in Jesus.
I agreed with the content but simply wanted to scream, ‘Who are you to tell me what to think?’ HA
BIBLE 60: GOD’S STORY IN 60 SNAPSHOTS
Do we really need another overview of the Bible? That was my first thought, but actually this one comes with a difference: 60 days for 60 snapshots from scripture, in biblical order. There are 30 days on the Old Testament and 30 on the New, with the idea that it is as we understand the person and purpose of Jesus that we understand the whole Bible more clearly. Each day we are encouraged to read a passage of scripture, followed by Andy Peck’s commentary, in which there is one broad question toreflect on the theme of the day.
This is much more than just a devotional book; Peck’s reflections are written with a wealth of research, theological and biblical understanding and depth. It is thorough and informative without being too dense to retain a sense of spiritual application. The book also includes helpful introductions to the Old and New Testaments and a timeline showing where each book fits into history. LH
HA - HUGO ANSON ? director, Grassroots Trust
LBJ - LUCINDA BORKETT-JONES ? deputy editor, Christianity magazine
JD - JOHN DRANE ? theologian & author
LH - LISA HOLMES ? lead minister, Skipton Baptist Church
JL - JONATHAN LANGLEY ? journalist & former DJ
CN - CAROLINE NEWBOLD ? chaplain of Lady Margaret School, Parsons Green & associate minister, St Stephen’s Church, Ealing
AP - ANDY PECK ? tutor, CWR