How do you take 13 pages of notes and turn it into a short review of a book? That's the task I have before me. As I've stated in previous reviews, many writers explain what they are trying to say and even describe why they believe what they've written, but good books go even further and show you how to do it. Will Mancini has masterfully written a book that superbly describes the skeleton to the reader, but leaves it to the reader to put his or her own meat and skin on it. The end result of reading this book will be a vision contextualized to your personal situation. Here are four reasons to read God Dreams.
1. You are a leader.
Whether you like it or not, you are a leader. You may only be leading yourself right now, or perhaps you are leading and influencing your family only, but either way, you are a leader. God Dreams was written specifically for church leaders, and even more specifically for senior pastors. However, I found it helpful in verbalizing my vision for the adult discipleship team I lead at First Baptist Rogers. As I crafted that vision step-by-step through the book, I began to realize that Mancini's ideas were inspiring in me not just a professional and organizational vision, but a familial one as well when I thought about where my family was heading. I even found myself jotting down personal goals to take through some of the processes Mancini lays out. So if you are a leader or want to lead other people some day, you need to read this book.
2. Vision statements are so blah.
Let's face it - can you remember your current vision statement? That's probably because it's generic and uninspiring. What if you had a vision story instead - one that had plot lines, epic characters, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles? How would you feel at the end of a story that overcame those obstacles to sail into the sunset? Probably pretty good, right? Would it inspire you to take that journey? The process Mancini lays out will help you develop a visionary plan to get where you want to go.
3. You have a plan, but don't see clearly exactly where that plan will take you.
I remember my first interview in which my soon to be boss asked me where I saw myself in five years. My answer - "I don't really know." In reflecting on myself throughout this book, I've seen a tendency in myself to make a lot of plans and have a lot of irons in the fire. I may plan on twenty different things, take some initial steps to get there, make some purchase, and so forth. But I really have no idea where I'm going. I would bet that's pretty common since Mancini points it out as a problem that this book solves. Hit the pause button for a few days, read this book, start with where you want to go, and then re-evaluate those plans. Mancini will help you prioritize them, eliminate the superfluous, and execute.
4. You see where you are heading, but have no idea how to get there.
I imagine this is also a common problem. On the horizon of life, we may see a few things here and there that we want to head towards, but we don't have a map of how to get there. Even if we do, it may only have landmarks every few years, so we really have no idea what we should be doing right now to get there. Mancini helps with that too by walking you through the process of figuring out steps to take as early as 90-days and as far out as three to five or even twenty years.
A couple of words of caution:
Before diving into this book, you need to know a few things. First, this book was written primarily to senior pastors. Read it anyway. While I wish the book was a bit broader in its intended audience and not every principle will be applicable to your situation, most can be adapted to meet your needs. Occasionally, Mancini even throws in a secular example.
Second, you will read some things that shock you. For example, I was a bit taken aback by the instruction to not use Scripture in developing a vision. Keep reading. Perhaps Mancini could have better communicated the centrality of Scripture to the process of creating a visionary plan, but his point is appropriate. Scripture is for all people, and thus vision statements straight from Scripture will be inherently generic and are often used out of biblical context. Take that Scripture, let it create a vision in you, and then verbalize the vision in a manner that fits the context you are in.
Finally, don't do what I did and read this book alone unless the only purpose for reading it is to lead yourself. If you lead people, you need to read this book with them. You need to follow Mancini's advice and schedule a series of meetings to put it into practice. I'll be re-reading this book with a few other people in the future and rest assured we'll take our time and implement the process he lays out in the book.
"Ministry without clarity is insanity," writes Mancini. I would take it a step further and say life without clarity is insanity. I highly recommend this book!
I was provided with a free copy of this book for the purpose of an unbiased review.
This past weekend, I had the great privilege of spending some time with Dr. Donald Whitney and reading an advance copy of his new book, Family Worship. Many authors have the ability to describe the what and why of a subject, but too frequently leave it there. Dr. Whitney has a knack for adding the "how" of the subject. He does not disappoint when it comes to Family Worship.
Dr. Whitney begins persuasively demonstrating that family worship is a practice that originates in the Old Testament and has been practiced until today. He traces the history of the practice from Abraham to John Piper and Don Carson. In doing so, Dr. Whitney begins to outline the basics of family worship. He gets into the simple meat of how to do family worship by describing how it has been done in the Bible and history - reading the Bible, praying, and singing. He discusses several other possible activities of family worship before answering some basic objections or circumstantial questions about the practice. He closes by encouraging families to take up the practice immediately regardless of the circumstances.
What is clear from this book is that family worship must be practiced. As Matthew Henry said, "here the reformation must begin." Dr. Whitney explains, "the reformation that we long for and pray for in our churches also involves the home. Since the church is comprised of family units - from singles to large families and everything in between - if the homes are changed through family worship, the church will be changed." If we want revival in our land, we've got to do more than pray. We can't stop praying, but revival must start in the mini-churches scattered throughout our neighborhoods. It must start in the family.
Dr. Whitney does not disappoint with this easy read on an important practice in Christian spirituality. I recommend this book for any who aren't practicing family worship. I recommend it for those who do it inconsistently. In fact, I recommend it for those who are doing it consistently. Seeing the practice of family worship since Abraham was a motivating reminder to engage in this ancient practice with so many immediate benefits for the family and the Kingdom.
Family Worship will be available on January 31, 2016.
The author provided no compensation for this review.
This weekend, Donald Whitney will be on campus at First Baptist Rogers. He will preach at our Pleasant Grove campus on Saturday night at 5:00 and Sunday morning at 8:00, 9:15, and 10:30. He'll be back Sunday afternoon for the 2016 Grow LIFE Group Leadership Conference. Here is a short preview of some of the things we might discuss.
Launching LIFE Groups Together
Part of what we do at First Baptist Rogers is launch LIFE Groups. We can't over emphasize how important this is. Launching LIFE Groups gives others an opportunity to lead and exercise their spiritual gifts. It gives current leaders the ability to disciple other leaders and reproduce themselves. It increases spiritual growth by keeping LIFE Groups small enough to facilitate good, open, and honest discussion about real issues in life. It creates more space in individual LIFE Groups for growth. It creates more "boats" for Jesus to fill with fish. We need to launch more LIFE Groups!
Bible Intake Together
In LIFE Groups at First Baptist Rogers, we teach the Bible. Nothing more, and nothing less. By doing so in small groups, people have the ability to hear the Word of God. They have the opportunity to think about it as engaging questions are asked and discussed. The Bible is and must remain central to everything we do in LIFE Groups.
It would be very difficult to pray for every person in the church every day. However, when we get in small groups, we can pray very specifically for the people around us. We can go to the Father and petition Him to meet our needs according to His purposes together. We must be praying for one another together in LIFE Groups.
Evangelism and Service Together
"Sunday School" (what we now call LIFE Groups) was originally created as an evangelistic organization. We shouldn't lose that aspect of life together just because we changed the name from Sunday School to LIFE Groups. We should come together to serve our community for the purpose of showing them the love of Christ and building relationships through which we can share the good news that Jesus Saves.
Encouragement and Accountability Together
Most of us probably get involved in relationships for the purpose of encouragement to a certain degree. There is a comfort in relationship that builds us up and refuels us in some way. But part of encouragement in the Christian life is accountability as well. If we encourage one another in sin, we're not encouraging one another to good works. We also have to hold one another accountable to those good works, loving each other as spiritual siblings and co-heirs of the universe with Christ.
We need all current and future LIFE Group leaders, including our preschool, children, and student leaders to attend this annual leadership conference. I'm looking forward to seeing you there!
I follow Christ. I have a beautiful wife Megan and three wonderful children, Harrisen, Rebekah, and Carter. I am a candidate for a Ph.D. in ethics from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, have an M.Div. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a JD from the University of Arkansas, am licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts, and live in Rogers, Arkansas. I write a blog and produce a podcast. And I do it all that others may know Christ.