To guide your summer getaway book selections, try this formula: E=FB²
The Neighboring Church: Getting Better at what Jesus Said Matters Most
Rick Rusaw & Brian Mavis
Is your neighboring visible enough that if your church vanished, your city would notice? It won’t be unless your church emphasizes practically loving your neighbors. Love them not for the sake of evangelizing them but simply for the sake of being “the best at what matters most,” say the authors, who are co-pastors of a church near Denver. Neighbor-loving is not a church program but a church culture. Don’t make your neighbors fodder for projects or gossip, they warn. But do invite them into your home and life. Make your love tangible. Everyone is a neighbor, and “no one can opt out.”
Conversion and Discipleship: You Can’t Have One without the Other
Hull paints a bull’s-eye on decision-focused evangelism that doesn’t demand discipleship and blasts it with theological artillery for 220 pages. “If a person can’t fail, if there is no risk involved, then it’s not discipleship.” In short, forgiveness and obedience are equally important in the Christian life. Hull insists that you, the ordinary Christian, need to be getting more like Jesus and developing a plan for helping those around you do the same. He’s basically correct, but his account of the relationship between justification and sanctification is imprecise enough to be confusing.
Go: Returning Discipleship to the Front Lines of Faith
Former Eternity Bible College professor Preston Sprinkle is so disgusted with American church-as-usual that he home-churches. His complaints: Your church is too white. It’s probably too stuck on the way it’s always done things. And it spends too much on Sunday worship (one church spends 60 percent of its budget that way). Despite the rhetoric, he makes valid points. Making disciples who make disciples is really the church’s primary mission. While his book tells us what not to do, it offers mostly vague prescriptions. Sprinkle does write that we need the fuel that powers discipleship: God’s grace.
The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: 7 Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle
Bobby Harrington & Josh Patrick
“Disciple making is helping people to trust and follow Jesus.” That motto is emblazoned on the wall of Harpeth Christian Church outside Nashville, Tenn., where the authors co-pastor. They show why disciple-making is the best way to spend your life, describe the step-by-step formation of a discipleship group at Harpeth, and then provide seven much more generalized principles for making disciples. Some are obvious (you need Jesus, His Spirit, and His Word) and some are countercultural (be intentional; don’t bother discipling unreliable people). But their approach demands such high commitment that it left me wondering: Can you disciple someone who’s immature?
In Sing: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church (B&H Publishing Group, 2017) Keith and Kristyn Getty write, “The congregation of a church is the ultimate choir, and it is without auditions—everyone can be in it and should be in it.” We are created and commanded to sing, they argue. “Not to sing is to disobey.” They quote from Matthew to show that Jesus sang: “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” The gospel also compels us to sing: “Saved people are singing people.” In a chapter about singing in the local congregation, the Gettys show how singing helps congregations create unity across generations: “Not all singing churches are healthy churches, but all healthy churches are singing churches.” The book includes helpful study questions and four appendices aimed at pastors and elders, music leaders, musicians and choirs, and songwriters. —Susan Olasky