My goal going into this year was to read 52 books. So far, I’m halfway to that goal – a bit ahead of pace. But I already know I won’t be doing this again next year. Every so often I find myself pushing forward too quickly rather than slowly absorbing what I’m learning.
Anyhow, I thought I’d go ahead and share a brief snippet about the 26 books I have read so far in 2018. For space reasons, I will only include the first thirteen of them in this post, and then wrap it up in a couple weeks. As you’ll see, I tend to read a lot of theological books, however, there is a little variety sprinkled in.
When I first began pastoring, I had a pretty defined philosophy on how to lead a church. It was a philosophy that had been formed and shaped in large part by the current cultural trends of modern American church leadership. The components were as follows:
- Do everything (short of sin) that you can do to attract people to your Sunday morning gatherings.
- Your “wins” must be measurable (e.g. “How many were in attendance?” “How many were newcomers?” “How many got baptized?” “How many went through the Growth Track?” “How many people served at the last outreach?” “How many…?”).
- The biggest “win” of the Sunday morning gathering is getting people “saved.”
- You must get people constantly moving to the “next step” (“Now that you said ‘Yes’ to Jesus, have you registered for water baptism?” “Now that you’ve been baptized, have you joined a small group?” “Now that you’ve joined a small group, have you thought about helping to lead a group next semester?” Et cetera.).
There are other components as well, but you get the drift. Now, I hope I don’t come across as being cynical or dismissive. Because any healthy pastor wants people moving forward, and indeed, there are times when tangible, measurable steps are involved. I am not categorically against any of these things at all. My church certainly utilizes several of these components. But…
A little over a week ago, Carrie and I were out of town for a few days. We were looking for a few things to do. A friend of mine had given me a strong recommendation for the movie, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” starring James Faulkner and Jim Caviezel.
I have to confess, I am usually not an enthusiastic fan of “Christian movies” for a variety of reasons. Not to sound cynical, but it’s difficult for me to bear with the usually poor artistic elements. Generally, the acting and the writing are substandard, and the delivery of the message is pretty formulaic and uncreative.
Nevertheless, because this was a biopic of Paul, and because we trusted my friend’s recommendation, we decided to give it a shot.