100 Book Challenge Week 4 Progress – 8 & 9 of 100 (Plus 1 Bonus)

The exciting aspects of this wisdom quest unfolded tremendously this week for me. One of my favor authors and non-denominational speakers is Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Church just outside of Atlanta, GA. His writing and speaking have a credibility and consistency that seems to be lacking in many mainstream religious leaders and communicators. He’s well respected not just in religious circles but in the circles of business and leadership too. For these reasons I have begun to build a collection of his works.

My current collection includes:

I will be adding soon

  • Visioneering
  • Communicating for Change
  • Choosing to Cheat
  • Ask It
  • Best Question Ever

8. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley – By far my favorite book to date by Andy Stanley and 1460489103227the most exhaustive of his works regarding planting a church, designing environments to attract unchurched people, crafting messages for unchurched people and church people alike. Andy’s approach is very methodical and intentional.

Chapter 6 gives great insight into North Point’s concept of Spiritual Formation, which they use to quantify spiritual growth as follows –

They describe it as 5 Faith Catalysts which are 5 things God uses to grow your faith.

  • Practical Teaching
  • Private Discipline
  • Personal Ministry
  • Providential Relationships
  • Pivotal Circumstances

Chapter 7 Describes these in detail and provide excellent leadership advice on how best to position people based on one of these 5 catalysts.

One of the major moments for me stood out in Chapter 13…

“Marry your mission.

Date your model.

Fall in love with your vision.

Stay mildly infatuated with your approach.”

Andy does a wonderful job at mapping the mission to the programming as follows –


This skims the surface of this excellent book which reads like a manual on the North Point Systems Based approach to church leadership.

9. Creating Community by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits – I am investigating the feasibility of small groups for our church. I have surveyed a half dozen pastors and have received opinions in every direction. This book cleared up a great deal. I’m not 100% sold on the idea…yet.

51obh1fz6ql-_sx336_bo1204203200_Much of the first few chapters were spent convincing the reader of the importance of community. The authors state God literally created us for community. In fact, they use Creation when God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” as evidence God wants us to have companionship. While I agree companionship is wonderful and beneficial, I personally felt that readers who may be single, and may have resigned themselves to that fact, may be out of line their opinion of God’s view on being alone. Many biblical leaders, even Jesus was never married, so this comparison should be drawn very carefully.

I did however like the way they correlated the Starbucks Business model to community. They’re not just in the business of selling coffee, they’re in the business of creating community. And, if you think about it, that’s so true. Their environments are conducive to conversation and connection which go great with coffee.

Now, from a church standpoint, I am a strong proponent of community. I can see the benefits of doing life together. Great examples were given in the book of how small groups impacted the lives of people who would have otherwise fallen between the proverbial cracks.

This book was filled with practical reasons on why, and a little on the how, as it applies to small groups, but left me wanting more in the way of a formal process. It could be done using the book, but would involve a great deal more trial and error, and would require high degree of tolerance on behalf of the people you would be asking to sign up for these groups.

Bonus Book(s): Finished Leviticus and began the Book of Numbers. I was so enamored with the Deep and Wide book I re-read several chapters several times. Once I cracked these books open by Andy Stanley, it reminded me of 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner, and I dug up a few chapters from there because they were reference by Andy in Deep and Wide. 


100 Book Challenge Week 3 Progress – 6 & 7 of 100 (Plus 2 Bonus)

This week was a tricky week for keeping on target with my goal of a minimum of 2 books per week. In fact, I blogged about how I set goals in a separate post entitled, “100 Book Challenge – Setting Yourself up for Setbacks.” This is no easy undertaking. I read on average maybe 20 books a year and to increase it to 100 will require dipping into the reserves of my tenacity and grit!

The challenges, if I’m being transparent, arise when my routines get disrupted. I’m a pretty regimented guy and when that happens I have to have a contingency plan. With a 2-week margin for catch up out of the 52-week year of hitting 2 books a week minimum, I do not want to have to dip into that reserve if I can avoid it. I’d like to actually use those 2 weeks to get ahead of my goal so I can crush it!

6. The Battle Plan for Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick – Once I recovered from the minor setback of taking one day off, and another one being too busy to crank out so much as a chapter or two, I dialed in and finished up a great book I had started toward the end of last year called “The Battle Plan for Prayer” by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.


From the creators of the famed movie, War Room, and authors of The Love Dare, the Kendrick brothers have written a masterpiece of practical and theoretical wisdom on prayer. Prayer, the most powerful communication tool between us on earth and God in Heaven, is the sadly under utilized. This book  is a must have for any Christian library.

If I could make a suggestion, plan on reading a chapter a day. I plan on using this to teach future studies on prayer and to implement its practices in my personal prayer life as well. We owe the authors a debt of gratitude for penning these words. There’s no way they could have written them without having practiced them, and without the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

As of this post I have not seen War Room, but I will soon. For other resources for using this book as a teaching tool visit the book’s website at LifeWay.com

7. “If – Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities” by Mark Batterson – I have come to be a fan of Mark’s work. From the gifted writer of The Circle Maker and all of its resources, Mark again expounds upon one of the most unsuspecting 2-letif-booktered words of the English Language I-F. There is so much possibility packed within this word and Mark takes us on a journey weaving in characters like Winston Churchill, Helen Keller, and of course a host of biblical characters as well.

As a pastor, I appreciate the accounts Mark shares with the reader about the journey of National Community Church (NCC). I take inspiration from his writing because having started a church with little more than he did, I’m only 5 years into my pastorship, while he’s well past that. God has opened great doors in his ministry and he attributes it all to faith in God and a solid prayer life. This inspires me to keep believing and trusting God for greater things in our church.

I might add here too that Mark states in the book he read over 3000 books before he ever attempted to write one. That’s huge. He mentions also, Teddy Roosevelt, one of his all-time favorite presidents, made habit of reading 500 books a year…and I think 100 is a “challenge!”

With 31 chapters, Mark recommends you read this book, one chapter a day as well. In my quest for wisdom, I will admit, I did this in just a couple of days, but can see the value in taking the time to both read, and journal thoughts and impressions of the book as you go through it.

One of the biggest messages of the book “If” by Mark Batterson is, at the end of our lives, it won’t be the things we did that we regret. We will regret the things we did not do, and wished we had.

Bonus Reading: When I started I anticipated getting criticism for reading books other than the Bible. I committed from the onset that I would attempt to maintain my Bible reading in addition to these 100 books. This week I made good on this BONUS Goal by reading Genesis (started last week) and Exodus. And, since Exodus blended right into Leviticus, I continued and have gotten a good start on it.

I am enjoying this journey overall. It is stretching me. I have a difficult time focusing on such diverse reading materials and going through them thoroughly and thoughtfully, but the more I do it, the more I hunger for it.

A good key if you’re going to do a challenge like this is to find someone to do it with you. I have had a couple people link up with me on this journey wanting to know which books I’m going to read next. If you’re so inclined, feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below, and I’ll let you know which books I’m reading next.

Here’s to 93 more!

Setting Yourself up for Setbacks – My 100 Book Challenge

Not trying to start with the excuses this early on, but had a rough week fitting in the minimum 2 books per week on my 100 Book Challenge, but had a breakthrough this week and made some great progress. See, that’s the thing with ambitious goals; you need to account for what you’re going to do when you do have set backs. With 100 books, my average of course has to be roughly 2 books every week with a 2-week margin for catching up if I miss that target. When the week started to get away from me I thought about what I would do if I ever did get behind.

What do you do when you get behind on your goals? Do you immediately throw in the towel? Do you punish yourself with negative self-talk? Do you see one setback as an overall failure, and toss the entire goal aside? Do you say, “What’s the use, and go back to your mundane, empty, and listless life?

I’ve learned personally, and experts and research have proven, those who naively set ambitious goals without taking into account the almost inevitable setback will likely not succeed. They almost go as far as to think they’ll “automatically” be a success and can be positive enough to overcome discouragement. They set lofty goals and think only about the achievement without considering the potential for discouraging obstacles. Sadly, the science says, those are the ones that fail.

However, those who anticipate they’ll run into obstacles can, in my own words, brace themselves for impact. You know you’re going to hit a wall sometime. This isn’t self-fulfilling prophecy mumbo-jumbo, but it is taking into account the occasional curve-ball life inevitably throws your way. Good hitters know how to hit a fast-ball. Great hitters learn how to CRUSH a curve-ball.

Now, these thoughts are overly simplified, but the principles were the mode of survival  for Admiral James Stockdale. He spent 8 years as a POW in Vietnam and was tortured 15 times. In his book, “Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot” he provides readers with a gritty account of his imprisonment and subsequent release.

From Wikipedia

“In a business book by James C. Collins called Good to Great, Collins writes about a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding his coping strategy during his period in the Vietnamese POW camp.[16]

When Collins asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.[17]

Stockdale then added:

This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.[17]

Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox.”

Try not to fall into the trap of being so focused on your goal you don’t take into account the resistance you will face. The attainment of the goal is great and will say a great deal about your grit, but the wisdom you gain along that journey is, in my estimation, just as valuable as the attainment of a goal.

In short, set yourself up for setbacks. Anticipate there will be challenges along the way. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. No matter the goal you set for yourself, don’t lose sight of the lessons to be learned along the journey; they’re often just as important as the goal itself.

Feel free to leave me comments on your best kept secret for achieving your goals when the temptation to give up strikes!

100 Book Challenge – Recommendations are Rolling in

Want to send out a huge thanks to so many of my friends who have been submitting recommendations for the 100 Book Challenge. Here’s a sampling so far…

Recommended Books

  1. Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  2. Blessed Life by Robert Morris
  3. Blessed Church by Robert Morris
  4. Tabernacle of Moses, Tabernacle of David, Tabernacle of Solomon by Kevin J. Conner
  5. Realign by Eugene Wilson
  6. Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee
  7. A Call to Die by David Nasser
  8. Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis
  9. Gods at War Kyle Idleman
  10. H3 Leadership by Brad Lomerick (Completed 1/4/17)
  11. Influencer by Grenny, Patterson, McMillan, Maxfield, and Switzler (Completed 1/5/17)
  12. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (Completed 1/26/17)
  13. If by Mark Batterson (Completed 1/20/17)
  14. Spirit Controlled Temperament by Tim LaHaye
  15. Let My People Grow by Tim Massengale
  16. Deep Calls Unto Deep by Watchman Nee
  17. These are the Garments by C.W. Slemming
  18. 7 Decisions by Andy Andrews
  19. Breaking Growth Barriers
  20. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
  21. Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson
  22. Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson
  23. Bill Drost the Pentecost by Bill Drost
  24. Before We Kill and Eat You by HB Garlock
  25. Insanity of God by Nik Ripken
  26. Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken
  27. Seventy – Everyone Needs a Team by Eugene T. Wilson
  28. Quiet by Susan Cain
  29. A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards
  30. From Rome to Jerusalem by Douglas G. Hanscomb
  31. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James C. Humes
  32. Essential Church? Thom Rainer
  33. The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel
  34. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  35. Uncommon by Tony Dungy & Nathan Whitaker (Completed 1/11/17)
  36. Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden
  37. Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden
  38. Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson
  39. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  40. Ultimate Leadership Defining Moment by Nathaniel J. Wilson
  41. Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur
  42. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
  43. Future Edge by Joel Arthur Barker
  44. Your Pastor, Your Shepherd by James Lee Beall
  45. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller
  46. Prayer by Verbal Bean
  47. Works of the Holy Ghost by Verbal Bean
  48. Scary Close by Donald Miller
  49. Start with the Why by Simon Sinek
  50. God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future by Will Mancini and Warren Bird
  51. With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray
  52. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier (Completed 1/10/17)
  53. Praying Hyde by Captain E.G. Carre (Completed 1/3/17)
  54. Scary Close by Donald Miller
  55. Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
  56. Battle Plan for Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick (Completed 1/18/17)
  57. Creating Community by Bill Willits & Andy Stanley (Completed 1/23/17)
  58. Bate of Satan by John Bevere


Recommended Authors

  1. Leonard Ravenhill
  2. John Bevere
  3. Gene Edwards
  4. Smith Wigglesworth
  5. John G. Lake
  6. Lester Sumrall
  7. Perry Stone

I know this list is sure to grow. The easy part is compiling the list…the hard part will be diving straight into the deep end!

The 100 Book Challenge for 2017

I am on a quest for wisdom in 2017 and have elected to set a goal of reading 100 books by the end of this year. Originally I set a goal of 52 books, for 1 per week, but I believe in stretching myself. This quest will take me down roads I have never traveled. I am not going to be random in my selection of books and have enlisted the aid of my friends on Facebook for recommendations, but will welcome recommendations from readers of this blog…if there are any.

True goals should stretch us just enough without snapping and breaking us!

My topics of choice will be as follows:

  • Inspiration
  • Revelation
  • Motivation
  • Leadership
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Biographies
  • Personal Growth
  • Relationship Growth
  • Ministry Growth
  • Church Growth
  • Maybe even some inspirational fiction

As a Christian pastor (Link to my church Turning Point Ministries of Rochester), and leader, I will say for the well-intentioned and concerned, I will be reading these books in addition to my personal morning devotions and Bible reading.

The formats I am using will be traditional paperback and hardbound, my trusty Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader, and Audible Subscription.

I am going keep a running list on this blog of the titles I have read mostly as a way for me to catalog and track my progress and if my time permits, I will record my thoughts about each title with short reviews.

For supporters that wish to leave words of encouragement, or even recommendations, feel free to post below! Thanks and God bless!

Link to my Twitter: @rdmangold

Link to my Instagram: @rmangold