I really enjoy post-apocalyptic movies and books and such and so I’ve gotten into AMC’s series, The Walking Dead. This has lead me to start buying comic books – for the first time in my life – and I’ve picked up two novels now from my local public library. The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury is the second in a trilogy that follows the post-zombie outbreak life of the series’ super villain, The Governor.
This novel follows another band of survivors and how they end up meeting the Governor and staying in Woodbury. The little town is in its beginning stages and starting to set up a lot of the infrastructure and dictatorship laws. It is weird that they seem to have an unlimited supply of gas for their generators and running water for days, but this is still early in the apocalypse, so maybe they are emptying underground tanks from the local Chevron station and slowly emptying the small town’s unusually large water tower.
In total, this book is terrible. Straight terrible. The characters don’t develop, the conflict is imagined, the tension is created out of convenience not plot. At times the book tries to be a story of survival then it takes a sharp turn into existential political philosophy and critique. Then it tries to be emotional and takes a gross turn into erotica. The book has no established beginning and has no relevant ending. It’s like the authors thought up some interesting scenes, wrote them on note cards, shuffled the deck, and made a book.
I got this from the local library and I can’t decide if I should be glad I didn’t pay for it, or upset that my tax dollars did. Either way, I’m glad the book is written at the level of a first grader because that makes it an easy read and the suffering ends quickly. Moral of the story…stick to what you are good at – comic books writers can do movies, but not novels.
Even if you do a google search, you end up with a map and some random church listing websites. Stukeley Baptist Church, in Richmond, VA is gone. Where you think you will find it, you will instead find Light Community Church, which has recently moved into their 7,400 square footbuilding on 3 acres of land…given to them by Stukeley Baptist.
As a 66 year old church full of older white folks, Stukeley Baptist was failing to reach the increasingly diverse community around their building. Only 20 people were regularly attending on Sunday mornings. This is a perfect storm for a declining church to dwindle and end up with a broken down ministry in a broken down building. The difference in Stukeley Baptist is that they loved their community and wanted them to know Jesus; so, just blindly continuing in their comfortable pews (with plenty of parking spaces!) until the fat savings accounts ran out was not an option. Instead, they became friends with Pastor Kimberly Ridley of Light Community Church, made sure their hearts were in line as churches, and straight up gave them their church building last July.
In a country where we have far too many zombie churches – churches that died a long time ago but they are still wandering around moaning and eating people’s brains (ht:Mark Driscoll) – this is the right option to continue a church’s mission, but in a new way, in a new culture and in a new day. There are piles and piles of money locked up in these zombie churches and in their savings accounts – they did faithful ministry for decades upon decades. Unfortunately, that was decades ago. There is not a resource problem in church planting and reaching people in America – but there is an allocation problem.
How amazing it would be if we heard more stories like this! Churches being churches! Existing for the world, and not for themselves. I’m definitely putting the members of Stukeley Baptist on my list of people I want to hang out with when we all go to heaven.
Doug Fields is a former youth pastor from Saddleback Church and got super famous in the youth ministry world with his publication of Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, which applies Rick Warren’s strategies to a youth ministry setting. His less famous but just as significant second book is, Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: a Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right. It’s the absolute best book out on starting well in ministry, setting a foundation for a long and effective ministry life and avoiding some really common traps that rookies can fall into.
This book was super helpful for me when I was young in ministry, and it has been my go-to text form helping those who are brand new to youth ministry. This fall, I read it with another guy who was brand new, but not youth ministry. It was almost fully applicable, but it made me wish I knew of a book like this for rookies in other ministry areas.
The book is also great because it doesn’t assume that all youth ministers are paid vocational pastors. It has a lot of material for volunteers to grow from and learn in. It could also be helpful for those who supervise youth workers, to help them succeed early and have great influence for the gospel.
Here’s some highlights:
- p.82, “Too often, youth workers are seduced by the lure of designing an attractive program. They admire the creativity it offers, the potential it produces, the challenge it brings, the wows expressed from observing youth workers – and then they forget the reason for the program.”
- p.176, “Sit down with your pastor and agree on goals for your first month, first quarter, and first year. Ask him to write an endorsement letter on your behalf and send it to the existing volunteer team. Your pastor’s credibility and stamp of approval enhances your authority.”
- p.186, “If you’ve got some time-conscious potential volunteers, offer options to serve within varied amounts of time. Draft a list of ways volunteers might meaningfully contribute if they served 30 minutes a week, two hours a week, or five hours a week.”
- p.240 (contributed by Tony Campolo), “It’s important to note that the early church often prayed itself into harmony (Acts 5:12, 15:25) before making decisions.”
Tullian Tchividjian is a pastor at Coral Ridge Church in Florida, grandson to Billy Graham and owner of the highest scoring last name in Scrabble. He does a lot of other stuff as well, like adjunct professing and editing for Christianity Today. He’s connected and has opportunities because of who he is – but his honesty and integrity show how God is leading his life, as opposed to him being handed everything. Also, I had read articles and interviews with him in the past about a church split or something like that at his church and he seemed to give no spin at all. I wasn’t surprised that people at a church failed to get along – I was surprised that the pastor didn’t throw blame around or become defensive.
I read an excerpt from this book in CT magazine and was amazed, not by the writing or by the ideas, but by the choice of excerpt. The small passage was actually about past serious failings in Tchividjian’s own life and how it affected those around him. Even after a rebellious period in his life and his return to the faith – he shares his imperfections, his sin and it’s affect on his life and those around him. I adore authors and pastors who are willing to be honest and vulnerable, It is as daring as it gets. I think it’s easy to be sarcastic, critical or even offensive – but to be honest about one’s imperfections is the most daring.
So this book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World became an easy choice for next on my reading shelf. Tchividjian applies the simple definition of grace as being love in one direction, with no expectation on any return. This is grace on both ends – both the lover and the loved. One must intentionally give grace and the other must intentionally receive such grace; grace rejected is grace destroyed. He shares great stories of grace he has received in his life and times when he gave grace – without making himself out to be a hero. He also addresses common objections to grace (like antinomianism – which he was accused of promoting when people were splitting the church he leads) and gives insightful responses.
This book was unique because it is challenging and encouraging. It shows me where I am not, without the standard “work harder to be a better christian” rhetoric. I’ll definitely be giving away copies of this one.
Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson wrote on the verge: a journey in the apostolic future of the church together for the exponential church planters conference last year. The conference actually commissions a book each year. The combination of Hirsch, who is philosophical, and Ferguson, who is practical, makes for a great book that outlines the reasoning and the practical steps the reader can take in their local churches. Both men are driven for church planting and the advancement of the gospel in our world.
I read this right now because our church is needing to sunset our structures which helped us get off the ground and begin working in ways that evangelize and disciple at the same time with the same urgency with which we started. We need systems and organizational understandings that do not limit the passion of the people. We need to be organized so that we can fully take advantage of the opportunities God brings our way.
Here’s some stellar material:
p.57, “Telling the different story means reframing the central story that defines our understanding of church.”
p.80, “In every group there are innovators: those who ignite the change before all others. The 2.5 percent of us who are innovators spark change in the 13.5 percent who are early adopters, and when you catch 16 percent of the group, the mission burns so red hot, everyone can feel it.”
p.92, “According to [Daniel] Pink, the greatest demand today isn’t detailed analysis but rather big picture thinking, systematic approaches, nonlinear dynamics, and synthesis…the ability to put together seemingly disparate pieces of information, to see relationships, between seemingly unrelated fields, to detect broad patterns rather than deliver specific answers, and to invent something new by combining elements no one else thinks to pair.”
p.141, “…mission is a terrible lord.”
I’ve always liked listening to Billy Corgan and his Pumpkin Smashing band, so when I came across this video last week, I thought it was super interesting. He’s advocating for an exploration of God in Rock and Roll! I am sure he’s not talking about a conservative evangelical viewpoint of God, which is probably why he slams cotton-candy Christian rock bands. When he calls them out for copying U2, I actually laughed out loud. However you feel about Christian Rock, Corgan’s little soundbite deserves some thought – and some discussion.
So what do you think? Where is God in Rock and Roll?
The second of my summer zombie apocalypse just for fun reading was Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor. The Governor was the bad guy on last season of the television show, The Walking Dead, and won some awards that nerds give out for being the best bad guy of the year. He marks a shift in the story from the zombies being the danger, to the surviving humans being the immediate danger. When apocalypse happens (zombie, nuclear war, global warming, black friday sales, etc.), the event will not likely be as defining as the reaction to scarcity of resources, so the story of The Walking Dead naturally moves in that direction.
This book is written as a novel (Wait! No Pictures?? I thought this was a
comic book graphic novel!) and reveals how the Governor become the baddest bad guy on the planet. It picks up about seven days after the zombie outbreak and goes all the way to Woodbury. If you like good literature, this book is like torture. It is tedious in the wrong places and stops short in places that could use more time to read through. Also, if you like good literature, why on earth would you be reading a book about zombies?
Fans of the series will love this book because it gives some story behind the story – you find out what happened to Penny and you learn the Governor’s real name. It’s not what he says it is on the TV series. Armed with this behind the scenes info, you can shame your less nerdy friends and dominate online message boards! Really though, you can probably find this book at your local library and read all 300 pages of it in one sitting. You’ll have a little fun and save the money that really you don’t need to be spending to learn stuff that google will tell you for free.