12 Best Books of 2012

Making a “Best of” list is always hard – it’s a very subjective process, driven by my personal tastes, professional needs, and plain curiosity.

I’ve always been a voracious reader – a cherished habit passed down to me by my late father. In the past year, though, I’ve been able to ramp it up considerably because of my role as Vision Room Curator.

It’s not only a pleasure to read, it’s part of my job description – how cool is that?

Even so, it’s also hard to narrow it a “Best of” list down: in 2012, my reading included:

  • 127 books checked out from my local library
  • 68 print books purchased
  • 31 books received for review
  • 75 digital books on my Kindle

I also perused dozens of bookstores on my travels, writing down 63 titles for future review and/or acquisition. There are also a lot of late releases just coming out that I don’t have time to take a look at – yet. Be that as it may, here is my list of my 12 favorite books published in 2012.

Outside In

  Outside In

Guest Experiences for ChurchWorld is my passion, and this book by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine will provide churches a “go-to” manual for years to come

 

Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide

Andy Stanley and Northpoint Ministries have a solid model that all churches would do well to study – not to duplicate, but to understand how to impact your community for Christ.

 

Center Church

Center Church

Tim Keller delivers a textbook for doing church; possibly the most important church theology/leadership/practical book in a decade

 

The Advantage

   The Advantage

Patrick Lencioni captures the concept of clarity (he uses the phrase “organizational health”) like no business thinker today

 

The Icarus Deception

   The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin’s most recent book is probably the most challenging personal one I’ve read – and that’s saying a lot!

 

The Lego Principle

   The LEGO Principle

Joey Bonifacio writes in a simple, profound way about the importance of “connecting” in relationships that lead to discipleship

 

Missional Moves

   Missional Moves

Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder in a quiet, unassuming way, illustrate how Granger Community Church is transforming into a community of believers reaching their community – and the world.

 

Lead with a Story

Lead with a Story

Paul Smith delivers a powerful tool to enhance the leader’s skill in storytelling.

 

Design Like Apple

Design Like Apple

John Edson delivers a stunningly designed book that challenges the reader to understand and utilize Apple’s principles of design

 

 

Better Together

   Better Together

Church mergers (and closings) are going to be a huge event in the next decade; Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird give an excellent resource on how to survive and thrive throughout the process.

 

Quiet

   Quiet

Susan Cain writes the book I’ve been waiting for over 30 years – because I am an introvert leader.

 

 

Midnight Lunch

   Midnight Lunch

Sarah Miller Caldicott delivers a powerful primer for collaborative teamwork.

 

 

HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

   HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Nancy Duarte is not just a great writer – she knows how to deliver a great presentation from the first idea to the final applause.

 

 

Okay, it’s not 12 – but it is a baker’s dozen!

Let’s see – there’s still over 2 weeks left in 2012 – plenty of time to find a good book – what do you recommend?

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The Guest Perspective

Along with Network Navigator Jeff Harris, I am onsite this weekend in Houston, TX, conducting Guest Perspective Evaluations for two clients. Jeff and I spent time Saturday cruising the communities around the two churches, conducting a “windshield survey” of the areas.  Even though we have also spent time in the digital world of Google Maps, it’s always great to see and experience first-hand the neighborhoods of the churches we are working with.

On my flight out from Charlotte early Saturday morning, I continued reading Andy Stanley’s newest book Deep and Wide. It’s a great book for a bunch of reasons, but I’m going to pull a few quotes out here for their relevance to what Jeff and I are doing today.

Every Sunday people walk onto your campus and determine whether or not they will return the following week before your preacher opens his mouth. And that’s not fair. But it’s true. The moral of the story: Environment matters.

Environments are the messages before the message. The messages your environments communicate have the potential to trump your primary message.

By the time I (Andy Stanley) stand up to deliver what is traditionally considered the message, everybody in our audience has already received a dozen or more messages.

The quality, consistency, and personal impact of your ministry environments define your church. To put it another way, your environments determine what comes to mind when people think about your church.

I think we should determine the messages our environments communicate. We should choose the messages before the message. It’s our responsibility to shape the way people view our local churches.

The moment a church, or even a group of leaders within a church, catches a vision for capturing the hearts and imaginations of those who consider themselves unchurched or dechurched, environments take on new significance.

The longer you’ve served where you are and the longer you’ve done what you are currently doing, the more difficult it will be for you to see your environments with the objectivity needed to make the changes that need to be made. The shorter version: Time in erodes awareness of.

Every one of your ministry environments is being evaluated every week. Based on that evaluation, some people choose not to return. Additionally, every volunteer and staff member is evaluating the success of his or her particular environment against some standard. If you don’t define what excellence looks like for your staff and volunteers, they will define it for themselves. And when you don’t like what you see, you will only have yourself to blame.

Stanley’s words are a powerful reminder of just how important your Guest Experience is.

I’ve got my talking points for the Guest Perspective Evaluation with the Executive Team:

Environment matters.

Time in erodes awareness of.

Those phrases, with several hundred images and about 5-7 minutes of video, will make for a very interesting time come Monday morning.