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Timothy Keller Center Church Book

In the new book trailer video, Tim Keller talks about how the model for city-center church ministry developed at Redeemer reflect the following components:

  • Biblically Balanced
  • Urban Centered
  • Gospel-Centered
  • Theological Values

60 days left before you can get your hands on a copy!

Timothy Keller’s next book, Center Church is now available for order on Amazon.

Leonard Sweet has a new book out and it looks like it’s going to be a fun one to read.

Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised To Ignite Revival takes up the subject of the God-given desire to know others — form relationships, and the fact that most of the current social-media generation have found a place of belonging outside the organized church.  So how do we bring them together?

Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised To Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet

God came to earth to invite us, personally, into a relationship.  And while Christians at times downplay relationships, the social-media generation is completely sold on the idea.

 

Check out this short video clip where I share how I’m looking forward to sitting down to read the book.

VIRAL: How Social Networking Is Poised To Ignite Revival

by Leonard Sweet // Published by WaterBrook Press

ISBN: 978-0-307-45915-2

240 pages.  Also available as an e-book.

 

So I have one big question for you right now — Does the TGIF generation (Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook) have something to learn from the Gutenburg generation?  Or vice versa?

As we have pushed forward into the information age, ministry has followed suit in many ways. . . ministry work has evolved so that it isn’t strictly about counseling, facilitating discipleship, teaching on a one-to-one or one-to-some basis. Sophistication in communication resources has allowed growth-oriented ministries to find themselves planning, producing & presenting more content, running more outreach programs, serving more people by collaborating in teams and more.

This has changed the daily routine of ministry work a bit for some.

Have you ever had meetings to plan volunteer training, or leadership lunches, or ministry team retreats?

I’m sure you have at some point, if its not already a regular occurrence in your work.

Are you aware that you’ve gotten to the point where you are meeting about meetings?

Today is a Monday, and it’s typically a meeting-heavy day here.  I already know not to schedule any meaningful calls or meetings with new people on Mondays because I’ll be consumed with various standing meetings.   In the end, Monday’s are not really a day where I “get work done.”  Have you ever felt the same thing?

How do you change this? At least for the people you manage and interact with?

Before you figure it out, here’s a great TED talk where Jason Fried discusses “Why work doesn’t happen at work?” to put it into context:

One of my colleagues at work, Rich Birch, has offered up this response:

 

The author, Al Pittampalli, is trying to dig one layer deeper than usual to figure out how to radically change our work habits around meeting and productivity.

Rich has arranged an opportunity for us to sit down internally with Al this coming January, and I’m excited to read his book, READ THIS BEFORE YOUR NEXT MEETING — and then interact with him to see how I can activate some of the insights for my own praxis in year ahead.

I definitely want to ramp up productivity in the next year, what about you?

 

QUESTION: Are you sick of meetings? What do you do *during* your inefficient meetings? Got any tips to make meetings radically useful to everyone that comes? Share your rant or tip below in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing all of it!

If you’re a Christian techie, two of the big names to take note of might be:

  • Tim Keller
  • Google

Well, what happens when they intersect?

Basically you get Tim Keller speaking at Google HQ in their Authors@Google series.

Dr. Keller has spoken there before, and it’s one of the the more popular videos (approaching 200,000 views) on the web featuring Dr. Keller.

The latest book out of Redeemer City to City‘s Content Labs is The Meaning of Marriage.

 

So Google’s invited him back to talk about the book and the Christian view of Marriage.   Take a looksie at the hour long talk . . . Continue Reading…

Last summer, an almost unnoticeable essay was published on the web. It was a simple and straight-forward essay trying to reframe an issue that has been complexified (is that a word?) beyond comprehension to some. Over the last year, that essay by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet has taken on a life of its own — and in its latest iteration has been released today in book form: Jesus Manifesto.  I was excited to get an advance copy to read and more so when I had a chance to interview both Frank and Len about the Manifesto and what they claim in the book regarding the state of the Church.  Enjoy!



Q) The essay you both wrote last year – A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century, which was the precursor to your new book Jesus Manifesto (Thomas Nelson) – seems to be a holistic critique against how Christianity is “being done” today, at least in North America. Can you share a little about how this project should be received with respect to this and is your book about the same thing?

A) Frank: I think it was more of a clarion call pointing out that Jesus Christ has been dethroned and devalued in many quarters of the Christian faith, being replaced by so many other things. Jesus has often been boiled down to a footnote or a stamp of approval to some other issue or topic. Our book expands what was in the original essay and seeks to re-present Christ in a fresh and powerful way, showing why He is worthy of having the preeminence in all things. Its aim is to wipe everything else off the table and glorify Jesus beyond the stratosphere. One of the endorsers of the book wrote the following, which I think answers your question pretty well:

“Gandhi once said, ‘Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’ Maybe if we actually knew Christ, we would reflect Him more. Sweet and Viola’s Jesus Manifesto is the quintessential re-introduction.”

Len: One of the most important developmental tasks of every human being is to find their voice, and to speak out of their unique voice. One of the worst things that can happen to each of us is to lose our voice, or to speak out of other voices than our own. Frank and I are saying that the true voice of the church is Christ, and when other voices take over, the church is rendered voiceless.

I am a big fan of Wendell Berry’s writings. I think this farmer/poet/essayist is USAmerica’s greatest living poet. What makes Wendell Berry so special is that his writings are simply the land given voice. The Bible is the Spirit given voice, but the Spirit’s voice is a unique, one-of-a-kind, once-for-all-time voice. It’s not a propositional voice, but a story-telling, poetic voice that carries a unique register and timber and tone: it is the voice of Jesus the Christ. It’s time the church spoke again in its original, true voice.
jesus-manifest-leonard-sweet-frank-viola-book

Q) The subtitle of your book is “Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ” – pointing to an assumption that Christ’s sovereignty has been “lost” or “misplaced.” For me, there seems to be a bit of a difference between seeing the problem as Christ’s Supremacy and Sovereignty being “lost” and one where the is not being acknowledged. Is there difference between the two positions from your point of view?

A) Len: I don’t see a difference. British scholar Gabriel Josipovici shows how the name of God disclosed to Moses, ehyeh asher ehyeh, with its repeated “h” and “sh” sounds, “is as near as we can get in language to pure breath, non-articulation, non-division.”* In other words, with every breath we take, we invoke God’s name. Every child’s first breath, mouths God’s name. Every last breath, utters God’s name. Every word spoken, for words are carried aloft on breath-wings, is an attempt to speak God’s name. Frank and I are saying that God sent us Jesus to tell us the name of God: the name above all names.

Over 300 years ago a German pastor wrote a hymn that built around the Name above all names. I love to sing this song, although it’s seldom sung anymore, because the lyrics are posed in question and answer format. It’s an antiphonal song that comes across as a confession of faith:

Ask ye what great thing I know, that delights and stirs me so? What the high reward I win? Whose the name I glory in?

Jesus Christ, the crucified.

This is that great thing I know; this delights and stirs me so: faith in him who died to save, Him who triumphed o’er the grave:

Jesus Christ, the crucified.

*Gabriel Josipovici, The Book of God, 74

Frank: I think this is merely semantics. We are saying that the supremacy and headship of Christ has been “lost sight of” hence it must be “restored” or “brought back into view,” and more accurately, “restored as a living experience.”
There is a principle in God that He never gives anything, but that He first allows it to be lost. The Lord Jesus said that until you lose something, you can’t really have it. This appears to be a divine principle. God gives something first, then allows it to be taken away, that it may be given again. It’s the principle of death and resurrection, and it’s a recurring truth throughout the Scriptures. Ever notice all of those re- terms in the Bible: Restoration (Acts 1:6; 15:17), regeneration, restitution, recreation, rebirth, renewal, resurrection, revive, etc.

Our Lord is a God of restoration.

For this reason, church historians have used the “restoration” motif for a long time. It’s been said that God used the Reformers to restore justification by faith when it was lost sight of. God used the Holiness movement to restore personal holiness when it was lost sight of. God used the Moravians to restore missionary outreach when it was lost sight of. He used the Pentecostals to restore the power of the Spirit when it was lost sight of. Right or wrong, we feel that we are living in a day when the supremacy and headship of Jesus Christ needs to be restored in the life of the church.

Q) A central part of the argument for how we are to re-center our faith is found in the statements, “Knowing Christ is Eternal Life. And knowing him profoundly, deeply, and in reality, as well as experiencing his unsearchable riches, is the chief pursuit of our lives, as it was for the first Christians. God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.” I agree that the Christian religion has dangerously become more about things that really should be subordinate to Christ or on the periphery as a result of knowing Christ. But I wonder if defining the “chief pursuit of our lives” in the way that is being presented and/or seeing God’s purpose as restoring our fallenness still keeps us – humanity – erroneously at the center of the story, and not God. North American Christianity has surely become consumeristic, but your article individually-focused emphasis on Christ seems vulnerable to similar outcomes. Would you be willing to put these claims in the proper context according to the lens you are seeing the issues at hand?

A) Frank: My books Reimagining Church and From Eternity to Here take dead aim at the individualism, independence, and consumerism that seem to be in the drinking water of Christianity today. This is not just a Western problem; it’s quite universal as Western Christianity has spread just about everywhere.

I don’t know what version of the manifesto essay you’ve read, but there’s an entire section on how that the pursuit of Jesus Christ is not an individualistic pursuit. But rather, it’s a corporate journey (see below). We dedicate an entire chapter to this point in our book, Jesus Manifesto. Here is point 9 of the essay:

“Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his church. While Jesus is distinct from his Bride, he is not separate from her. She is in fact his very own Body in the earth. God has chosen to vest all of power, authority, and life in the living Christ. And God in Christ is only known fully in and through his church. (As Paul said, “The manifold wisdom of God – which is Christ – is known through the ekklesia.”) The Christian life, therefore, is not an individual pursuit. It’s a corporate journey. Knowing Christ and making him known is not an individual prospect. Those who insist on flying life solo will be brought to earth, with a crash. Thus Christ and his church are intimately joined and connected. What God has joined together, let no person put asunder.”

Len Sweet Jesus Manifesto BookLen: The relationship of the WE and the ME is one of the most important subjects we can talk about. Like Frank, I have addressed this in a couple of books before: The Three Hardest Words to Get Right, 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Live Without, and Jesus Drives Me Crazy. Part of that unique “voice” of Jesus I referenced earlier is that Jesus always is heard in surround sound (I used to say “stereo”). If you only hear one thing, it’s likely not to be Jesus (Alpha/Omega, Lamb/Lion, Prince of Peace/Sword of Truth, etc.). It’s like the body of Christ has two lungs, and two brains (left/right), and . . . The Gutenberg world majored in the ME, the I, the left-brain, partly because the book is the most anti-social technology ever invented by the human imagination. The Google word is WE or right-brain dominant. We need both brains. God gave us two brains for a reason.

Q) Separate from the actual content of your essay, it is curious that both of you as authors who embrace technology and the Internet, chose to pursue a printed book which is a commercially sold medium opposed to releasing a free, viral-friendly electronic document such as an Seth Godin idea virus. If this Manifesto is a prophetic wake up call for the Christian community at large, doesn’t this go against the movement’s objectives or potential toward mass exposure and adoption to require the purchase of a book?

A) Len: Media is not a zero sum game. How’s your “paperless office” doing? Almost every website seems to be selling books, a bookstore (even churches are bookstores through their websites, thanks partly to Amazon.com’s franchise program as well). Books will flourish even in this iPad, Kindle future, but our experiences of books and the books we keep will change. When my original publisher refused to break up the text with inserted quotes and use background images on some pages, I pulled one of my first books, Quantum Spirituality, and set up my own publishing company (Whaleprints). I also do a weekly podcast called Napkin Scribbles, am one of the “Twitter Elite,” have a top-ranked Facebook site, post a sermon a week on sermons.com—there’s always a Sunday coming for me—and am writing more books than ever before. By the way, Frank and I “posted” the Jesus Manifesto first on the web—partly inspired by the German word that is used to describe what Luther did with his 95 Theses: not “nailed” or “mailed” but “posted” on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church in 1517.

Frank: Many years ago I started self-publishing my books. For the first two years, I gave them away free of charge. When the time came that I could no longer afford to pay for them (it costs a pretty penny to print a book), we started to sell them to cover our expenses. Believe it or not, once we began to sell the books, a lot more people were interested in reading them.

Right now on my website, most of my writings are available free of charge. This includes two free eBooks at the moment. One would think that an electronic book that’s free of charge would disseminate more widely than a book sold by a publisher. The truth is, it doesn’t. Not even close. For whatever reasons, published books are read by far more people than free eBooks or give away copies. (That’s been my experience anyway, and we’ve been tracking it for years.) I don’t understand why, but it just is. I wrote about this recently on my blog in fact. And that’s why I’ve agreed to have my books published.

Thomas Nelson is the largest Christian publisher in the world right now. And they are getting behind the book in a huge way. So right or wrong, we felt it was best to go with them to get the full message of the Jesus Manifesto to as many people as possible. They have allowed us to make available free sample chapters and I suspect the same will be true for the audio version.

Q) Finally, what is the best case scenario if this call is heard properly by the Christian community? What does the hope that the both of you have after writing this book actually look like?

A) Frank: Calvin Miller (author of The Singer and many other works) wrote this just after he read the book:
Jesus Manifesto is the most powerful work on Christ I have read in recent years. The Christ of the Empty Tomb is back among us. Sweet and Viola have beckoned us to return back to Olivet and renew our souls. I was hushed by its welcome authority. I found a lump in my throat as I read through page after page of Biblical witness to the one and only, incomparable Christ in whom alone is our Salvation. You must read this book. All of us must, and then we must believe in this book, rise and advance on our culture with the truth we have lately backed away from in our faulty attempt to play fair at the cost of our God-given mission.

My hope is that this same sort of response will become so widespread that we will all drop the religious “stuff” we are chasing and fall down on our faces in the presence of the greatness of Jesus Christ, making Him central and supreme in our lives, our ministries, and our churches. In a word, my hope is that Paul’s statement in Colossians 1 will become a living, breathing reality instead of black letters on a page – “that He might have the first place in everything.” It’s one thing to parrot that sentence; it’s another to be so captured by Jesus that it becomes our biography. But this will never happen unless our eyes are opened to see His greatness. And with the Holy Spirit as our help, that’s what we are seeking to do with our book.

Len: What can I say but “Amen” to Frank.

Kenny: Thank you both for taking the time out to share some of your thoughts behind Jesus Manifesto.  I’m looking forward to seeing the conversations that will undoubtedly emerge from the book release!


Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ (Thomas Nelson) releases Tuesday, June 1st and will be available on discount from Amazon.com that day.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

I have recently been mulling over a few concepts in order to publish a book over this next year and recently met Jeff through Twitter and blog. For many reasons, I believe self-publishing is a great option for those wishing to further their reach and influence. I asked Jeff if he could help introduce the concept of publishing a book to the pastors and ministry leaders who haven’t even considered it to begin with. Here’s his guest post — I’m interested in your thoughts regarding pastors publishing books…please read this post and then leave a comment below!


With the start of the new year, agents and publishers alike are being deluged with record numbers of query letters and book proposal packages. But while publishing dreams are at an all-time high, the cold, hard truth is that not everyone will make the cut into the ranks of the commercially published. But that’s no reason to give up hope, keeping your message under wraps.

The self-publishing model is nothing new. From Martin Luther to Joyce Meyer, writers of all stripes have stepped up to take matters into their own hands in sharing their work with the world. And with the current array of technology to help both produce and promote their books, aspiring novelists, business owners, and yes, pastors too, are increasingly seizing upon a quick, efficient, and cost-effective way to reach their target markets.

pastors-publish-book

While there’s no question that taking the traditional route over the self-publishing route garners an added level of prestige — no matter how imagined — the lines between approaches are increasingly blurred. In fact, there’s really only one core question separating the two: who fronts the money?

Here’s how it works: with the traditional model, the publisher, e.g. Thomas Nelson, commissions a team to have a book written, edited, designed, printed — and to some extent — marketed. The publisher pays an advance to the author on estimated future book sales, and in return, the publisher reaps 85-90% of the profit. And when you think about it, why shouldn’t they – it’s their investment!

In the self-publishing model, however, authors come up with their own funding for book production, promotion, and distribution, and as a result, stand to make 100% of the profit – depending on the company and services being utilized.

Granted, we’ve all seen material on the racks that we consider “not ready for primetime.” But that’s certainly a matter of opinion. With respect to your own work, you’re now empowered to make that call for yourself. If you believe in your message, and you invest the proper energy and resources to do it right, the self-publishing path can be a tremendously rewarding experience. And it’s especially true with pastors.

Here’s an introductory Q and A that may help you understand the process:

Is self-publishing expensive?
Not really. Any legitimate self-publishing service provider will offer reasonable rates for their services and expertise. In fact, we offer a special discount to pastors to help defray the costs.

Can pastors use existing sermons as source material for their books?
Absolutely. Many pastors are excellent orators, and we highly recommend playing to those strengths. We offer a transcription service to capture the message from a recorded sermon, which we then use to repurpose the content into book form.

Where is the best place to sell my book?
Congregations are often a great source of initial book sales. The book can also be used as an entryway to guest speaking engagements at other churches. Many large churches even have in-house bookstores that will carry a pastor’s book.

Bottom line: If you’re a pastor interested in spreading your message in 2010, self-publishing a book should be among the top methods on your list of considerations.

Have you ever thought about publishing a book? Leave a comment and share what you are thinking of doing next!


Jeff Smith is a writer and publishing professional with Smith Publishing & Communications in Colorado Springs. He can be reached via his company website at www.smithps.com or via email at jeff@smithps.com.

Todd Rutherford and Ryan Sheehan of Yorkshire Publishing (www.yorkshirepublishing.com) also contributed to this article.

It’s almost here. . .Tim Keller’s next book — Counterfeit Gods.

If you’re like me, you’ve already been to Amazon.com’s pre-order page for the book which gives the best deal ($13.46, 33% off now $11.66!) if you’re comparing prices including S&H.  Especially if you have Amazon Prime free shipping like I do.

tim-keller-counterfeit-gods

http://www.flickr.com/photos/djchuang/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

But waiting for October 20, just isn’t good enough for some.  Here’s something for you guys that are in this bucket — a free pdf download from the soon to be released book: Continue Reading…

The constantly nagging question for the Church is where should it focus and what are the measures for success?

The old model has clearly been the ABC model for doing Church: How large is your attendance?  Are you building out the physical plant of your church? Are you drawing people into your buildings?  Are you creating ministries and programs that reinforce your church as the fundamental epicenter?  How are you attracting people to your church? And are people giving out of their wallets? Tithing? Sacrificing for the offering plates?

The big trap is when the Church- literally – is the focus, purpose and intention of the ministry.

Let’s make sure we’re packing the pews the more people!  Is this program or that program supporting our objective to position the church (its vibrant programs and ministries!) as the center of attention and focal point of the community?  Are we successfully teaching people to empty their wallets into the offering plate so that we can plan more programs?

But some are arguing for a new old model.  Leonard Sweet’s latest text, frames what the body of Christ was called to do within a simple, yet beautiful M-R-I model.

leonard-sweet-mri-model

The intro chapter of So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church gives a taste of Sweet’s message. . . Continue Reading…