Book Review Guidelines

October 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Barzun, Jacques and Henry F. Gaff. The Modern Researcher. Toronto, Canada: Wadsworth. 1992. 409 pp. $44.00.

Introduction (1/2 page)

Begin with “baited” opening sentences to grab the reader’s attention. In other words, begin with something that would make a reader thumbing through a magazine want to read your critique. The introduction should be no longer than one-half of a typewritten page (12 point, times new roman, 1” margins, double space). The purpose of the introduction is to help the reader of the review better understand the book. You can accomplish this in several ways: (1) by demonstrating the author’s competency (or incompetency) to write a book of this nature, (2) by illustrating how the author’s background, academic training, and vocational achievements prepared (or failed to prepare) him/her for writing this book. Going into detail about husband, wife, children or schools attended is not necessary unless those facts help one interpret the book.

Summary (2 pages)

The summary section should not exceed two pages. Your purpose here is to summarize, proportionately, the contents and organization of the book. A good rule to follow is to try to make the first sentence of your summary as comprehensive and exhaustive as possible. In other words, summarize the book in one sentence. The remainder of your summary should be an elaboration of this “comprehensive sentence.”

Wise students will heed the warning of the two most common summarization mistakes. The first is when students summarize the first half of the book and then run out of space, slighting the latter half of the book. Do not make this mistake. Carefully organize your summary. Be sure you have a balanced summary, focusing on all major points of interest. The second mistake is bogging down in randomly selected minute details. Only two pages are allowed, therefore one must concentrate on the significant and unique and omit the less significant.

Critical Evaluation (2-3 pages)

This is by far the most important section of the book review (critique). A critical evaluation is not a summary of the book’s contents. It is, rather, an evaluation of how the author handled the contents. However, when reviewing a biography, your instructor may allow you to evaluate the life of the person in view.

Critical, you must realize, does not necessarily imply negative. Instead, critical refers to carefully weighing the claims and evidence of the argument (thesis). You must engage in the main points that relate to the authors argument. In other words, react to the book positively and negatively.

Good book review writers often ask a series of questions when critically evaluating a book. Examples of some questions are:

  1. What are the author’s purposes?
    1. Did he achieve them? Why or why not?
  2. What are the author’s claims?
    1. Is the book’s argument convincing? If so why, if not, why not? Cite examples from the text using parenthetical notation. For example, (23).
    2. Were the author’s claims supported with good evidence?
    3. What are the strength and weakness of claims?
    4. Focus on the most important evidence the author presents to support his or her thesis.
    5. Evaluate how he or she deals with counter evidence.
  3. What biases or presuppositions (theological, philosophical, denominational, etc.) are evident?
  4. What good is the book?
    1. Who ought to read it? (Please avoid the cliché, “every sincere Christian ought to read this book.”)
    2. You might discuss who would find this book useful and why. Compare the book to other books on the same topic. How is the field changed or challenged by this book? Is further work is needed to clear up doubtful points? Are there any gaps that need to be filled? What can the book and author teach us?

The “critical evaluation” section is not to exceed three, and should not be less than two pages. Therefore, the total length of your review should be no less than five pages and no more than seven (assuming proper font, margins, and spacing).

Before writing a critical book review, read some critical reviews in professional journals such as Missiology, Evangelical Missions Quarterly, or International Bulletin of Missionary Research. The use of subheadings is highly recommended in this section. For example, you could have secondary headings such as “Strengths” and “Weaknesses.”

Conclusion (1/2 page)

In a final paragraph or two, give your overall evaluation of the book. In light of its strengths and weaknesses, describe the usefulness of this book to you. Conclude with some words about the author and recognize the amount of work that went into the book.

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The Intentional Church – Book Review

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

I. Presuppositions Concerning The Intentional Church

A. A Healthy Church Must Be Intentional About:

·      Making Disciples (unbelief to belief)
·      Training Disciples (belief to maturity)
·      Developing Leaders (maturity to leadership)

B. To Be Intentional About Taking People From Unbelief to Maturity Requires a Plan to do so

·      A Ministry Plan
·      A Pathway Plan

C. There Are at Least 7 Building Blocks For a Healthy, Growing Church.

·      A Biblical Theology & Polity
·      Spiritual Renewal Dynamics
·      Spiritual Discerning and Gifted Leadership
·      Spiritual & Ministry Oriented Laity
·      Adequate Facilities
·      Adequate Financial Resources
·      Effective Ministry Plan

D. There Are at Least 10 Components of an Effective Ministry Plan:

  • A God-Honoring Purpose – Why do we exist?
  • A Faith Oriented Commitment – In what ways will we demonstrate a faith commitment? 
  • A God-Given Vision – What are we seeking to accomplish?
  • Well-Prioritized Values – What is important to us?
  • A Well-Defined Mission – How do we plan to accomplish our vision?
  • Biblically-Based Job Descriptions – Who is responsible for what in accomplishing our vision? 
  • A Strategically Designed Infrastructure – How will we structure our organization so as to accomplish our mission? 
  • A Culturally Oriented Strategy – How will we accomplish our mission? 
  • Well-Documented Goals – How will we know if we are accomplishing our vision and mission? 
  • A Time-Bound Schedule – What is a reasonable timeline of specific tasks that must take place in order to accomplish our goals?

 

II. Concerning Developing Leaders

A. Leading a church is ultimately about developing leaders, understanding that every Christian is called by God to be a leader.

·      Informal, Non-public Leader, Call & Character
·      Formal, Non-public Leader, Call, Character & Competencies
·      Formal, Public Leader, Call, Character, Competencies & Charisma

B. Developing spiritual leadership for a church is not accomplished by merely establishing a leadership training class, but rather by creating environments in which “called people” realize their God-given potential and maximize their impact with that potential.

·      A Missional Environment
·      A Spiritual Growth Environment
·      An Equipping Environment

C. The ideal way to raise up leaders is to begin with a clean slate (called non-believers) and working with them until they become mature and equipped followers of Christ.

 

III. Concerning Making & Training Disciples

A. A believer is not successful in training a disciple unless that disciple is to effective at both making and training disciples.

B. Our churches will not be highly effective at making and training disciples until we who are pastors become faithful in our commitments to both.

C. A church which becomes effective at training disciples will be effective at making disciples.

D. A church will not become highly effective at “training disciples who make disciples” without:

  • A church culture of disciple making.
  • A specific and effective plan for training people to make disciples.
  • Accountable structures to encourage believers to identify and build relationships with non-believing people.

E. Both making and training disciples becomes far more effective when engaged in life-on-life laboring in other’s lives

Missional Renaissance – Book Review

October 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Missional Renaissance – Book Review

McNeal’s first goal was to set forth the language and definition of the missional church. Those not familiar with the missional church movement will find in this book a clear, practical, Biblical, understandable statement of what it means to be “missional”. They will also find someone who understands their fear of change, anticipates their questions, and gives practical guidance for taking a step at a time. Those who are already well read in the subject will find not a lot of new concepts. McNeal builds on the work of people like Bosch, Guder, Newbigin, Hunsberger, Frost and Hirsch and others, but he does it with a style that is his own and that brings new clarity to what may be already familiar ideas. He recognizes that the “missional renaissance” has as much to do with ecclesiology as it does missiology, and he addresses both with integrity.

His second goal was to set forth a clear path and compass settings for the missional journey. This he does by outlining three missional shifts:

Missional Shift 1: From an Internal to an External Focus

• Shifting from a “member culture” to a “missionary culture.”

• Refocusing and reallocating resources (prayer, people, calendar/time, finances, facilities, and technology) for missional impact. This is really about stewardship, although he doesn’t use the word.

Missional Shift 2: From Program Development to People Development

• “Are people better off for being part of this church, or are they just tired-er and poorer?”

• Seeing the world as the shaping ground for spiritual formation, not the inside of the church.

• Moving from mass standardization of programs to mass customization of discipleship.

• “The missional church assumes that service to others is the first step, not some latter expression of spirituality.”

Missional Shift 3: From Church-Based to Kingdom-Based Leadership

The leader must deal with…

• Paradigm issues (How the leader sees the world)

• Micro-skill development (Competencies the leader needs)

• Resource management (What the leader has to work with)

• Personal Growth (The leader as a person.)

His final goal was to establish a score card for measuring progress on the missional journey. His inclusion of suggested metrics to assess missional faithfulness and vitality is something that s missing in most other books on the missional church. Those metrics make a unique contribution to the literature. For years we have measured our faithfulness and vitality in terms of growth of attendance, budget, programs, What happens if we measure vitality in terms of the growth of people, service, prayer, outreach? McNeal would have us move from measuring how we are doing church to how we are blessing our communities.

Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church by Reggie McNeal

Top 10 Accountability Questions for Men

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Top 10 Accountability Questions for Men

  1. How often have you spent time in the Bible and prayer this week?
  2. What have you done this week to spend quality, relational time with your family?
  3. What did you do this week to maintain your joy in spite of life’s daily circumstances?
  4. What did you do this week to take care of your body (exercise, diet, and rest)?
  5. What steps have you taken this week to guard yourself against lustful thoughts, actions, and/or materials?
  6. How have you shaded the truth this week to make yourself look better to others?
  7. How did you give your best this week (at work, school, etc.)?
  8. In what ways have you been above reproach in financial matters this week?
  9. Who have you shared your faith with this week?
  10. Have you answered these questions truthfully?

 

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (13 of 13)

September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

Other Sources of Information:

  1. Are there any instances of redemptive analogies present among the people? These are potential illustrations of redemptive truths which help people to understand the meaning of spiritual truths or happenings which predispose people to be receptive to the Gospel. Read Don Richardson’s Eternity In Their Hearts for more on this concept.
  2. Have any doctoral or other secular studies been done on the people in which worldview issues are investigated and evaluated as to their effect upon change? Often these are later published in books. Many of these are done through Western university grants. Also look for local government studies particularly related to education, health and population, and agriculture. Worldview effects are generally related to why people are slow to change their beliefs and practices.
  3. Check the internet for government studies and people group prayer and adoption guides. Take these studies as informative but not necessarily accurate as government departments may have agenda and religious sources may not be substantiated.
  4. Network with others (both GCC and international government agencies) known to be working among the people group or language cognate or cultural/religious similarity.
  5. Local pastors and Christian religious leaders are generally not reliable sources of worldview information as they work intuitively among their own people. However, new or recent converts among a people group may be able to tell what attracted them or opened them up to the Gospel. Long-term and retired missionaries may have helpful information gleaned over many years of interacting with a people or their neighbors. Be prepared to question precisely rather than asking them to simply “tell all they know” as this may reflect more memories than usable information. Especially look for instances of difficult beginnings in a work or failure among a people. Ask what was learned when this happened.
  6. As a general rule it is easier to get information by asking people what they do than to ask why they do it. Ask questions like: When there is no rain for your crops what do you do? When your children get sick what do you do? When someone dies what do you do? Look for trends by asking many people and look for common threads. Also look for practices that are dying out or that are no longer carried out. See if you can find out why as this may point to changing worldview.

One last thought:

You may already know a considerable amount of worldview information. One way is to use this inventory and see how many questions you can answer from you existing knowledge and experience. Another way is to put together a buzz group of people who know about or have worked among a people group; begin listing characteristics of the target people by categories. Record the issues and characteristics and then try to assess some priority ranking in the list. Especially zero in on those issues and characteristics related to spiritual change and openness.

Other Sources of Information:

  1. Are there any instances of redemptive analogies present among the people? These are potential illustrations of redemptive truths which help people to understand the meaning of spiritual truths or happenings which predispose people to be receptive to the Gospel. Read Don Richardson’s Eternity In Their Hearts for more on this concept.
  2. Have any doctoral or other secular studies been done on the people in which worldview issues are investigated and evaluated as to their effect upon change? Often these are later published in books. Many of these are done through Western university grants. Also look for local government studies particularly related to education, health and population, and agriculture. Worldview effects are generally related to why people are slow to change their beliefs and practices.
  3. Check the internet for government studies and people group prayer and adoption guides. Take these studies as informative but not necessarily accurate as government departments may have agenda and religious sources may not be substantiated.
  4. Network with others (both GCC and international government agencies) known to be working among the people group or language cognate or cultural/religious similarity.
  5. Local pastors and Christian religious leaders are generally not reliable sources of worldview information as they work intuitively among their own people. However, new or recent converts among a people group may be able to tell what attracted them or opened them up to the Gospel. Long-term and retired missionaries may have helpful information gleaned over many years of interacting with a people or their neighbors. Be prepared to question precisely rather than asking them to simply “tell all they know” as this may reflect more memories than usable information. Especially look for instances of difficult beginnings in a work or failure among a people. Ask what was learned when this happened.
  6. As a general rule it is easier to get information by asking people what they do than to ask why they do it. Ask questions like: When there is no rain for your crops what do you do? When your children get sick what do you do? When someone dies what do you do? Look for trends by asking many people and look for common threads. Also look for practices that are dying out or that are no longer carried out. See if you can find out why as this may point to changing worldview.

One last thought:

You may already know a considerable amount of worldview information. One way is to use this inventory and see how many questions you can answer from you existing knowledge and experience. Another way is to put together a buzz group of people who know about or have worked among a people group; begin listing characteristics of the target people by categories. Record the issues and characteristics and then try to assess some priority ranking in the list. Especially zero in on those issues and characteristics related to spiritual change and openness.

Summary: There are often many cultural, social, and other barriers that a people may have. Their religion will be tightly intertwined with their society and culture. It will find expression in the cultural art forms and festivals. Be sure to look into these to see if hidden barriers may exist. Usually there is a fear that some of the culture will be lost if their religion is changed. Fear of offending the ancestral spirits or the ruling spirits is a major barrier in many societies. Barriers may have a sexual factor, differing significantly between men and women (issues like ritual purity from menses or giving birth), differing between young and old—older people generally being more conservative of the old ways, and younger people more curious and willing to experiment with new things.

This list is a resource and only suggestive for the worldview investigator. You may not need to investigate every category or every aspect of any one category. Some of the things will be observable. Some you will need to ask about. Some you may never get answers for, though in time you may be able to suspect an answer. A number of the questions are deliberately redundant to see if asking from a different perspective brings a different answer to test for uniformity of answers. If anything has been overlooked in this list, then add your own questions or rephrase these to be more appropriate or understandable for your people. Some issues may be explored better by asking people to tell you stories about evil spirits, worship, etc. and just let them talk. After they have had their say, then ask questions to clarify what they have offered. At times you may need to engage in exchange about your culture by offering to share from your cultures and let listeners compare and respond from theirs if they are willing.

J.O. Terry, Rev 5/03

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (12 of 13)

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

In what language or format does new information come to the people?

  1. From what sources? When?
  2. Does different kinds of information (agriculture, health, spiritual) come in different languages? Heart language vs. trade/regional languages?
  3. Do people share information and news in story form?

Where or how do the people see themselves as needy (lacking) or needing change?

  1. If people could change anything in their lives what would they change?
  2. If people could have anything they desired what would it be?
  3. Do the people consider themselves as blessed in some way? Cursed in some way?
  4. What would they like to remain unchanged in their society?
  5. Are people are satisfied with their religion? What would happen if it changed?

What changes are affecting the people?

  1. What changes have occurred in their recent past that either predispose the society to change or that hinders change?
  2. What changes are presently occurring that are disturbing or unsettling to the people?
  3. What impending changes are feared to happen in the near future because of pressures building up?
  1. Are the people literate? Semi-literate? Non-literate?
  1. Would they be considered oral communicators, preferring orality over literacy?
  2. Is there segmentation in their orality (literacy for certain people, others oral)?

Other Spiritual Beliefs, Practices, Customs—What other beliefs, practices or customs would affect any potential change in spiritual beliefs for the people? These may relate to taboo foods, cultural practices, sacred animals (totems), sacred places, sacred days or seasons, rites of passage (initiation into manhood or womanhood), festivals and rituals related to the natural or spirit world, citizenship identified with a predominant religion, fear of persecution and loss of benefits, etc.

  1. As a barrier making new teaching hard to understand, accept or practice?
  2. As a bridge making new teaching desired, acceptable, and facilitating understanding and practice?

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (11 of 13)

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

Cultural and Religious Festivals—as cultural, societal, religious events these can have powerful influences over individuals in a people group.

  1. What are their festivals and what religious significance do they have?
  2. What do these festivals require of the people?
  3. Are there things associated with the festivals which are against God’s Word? Drunkenness, combat or sexual practices (fertility cults)?
  4. Will some of the rituals and events associated with festivals need to be replaced with “redeemed” events when the people become believers? Harvest festivals, marriages, funerals, coming of age rituals, etc.

How do the people keep alive (share) heritage stories?

  1. Who is the custodian of these stories?
  2. Are these stories told in a special place? By whom? When?
  3. Can anyone hear these stories?
  4. What can you say about the format of the stories or how the stories are told?

Who are the gatekeepers in the society who control what people believe and do?

  1. Are people free to change? Do women have freedom to do so?
  2. How do gatekeepers maintain their control—threat of excommunication, some corporeal punishment, threat of death?
  3. Are certain articles of clothing outward manifestations of the prevailing religion or social status?
  4. Would not wearing these articles of clothing be a problem for new believers, those leaving the prevailing religion?
  5. Are there food restrictions which are enforced for the prevailing religion?
  6. Is attendance at community or political events related to the prevailing religion mandatory?
  7. Is the ownership or use of agricultural lands, fishing resources or property restricted to those of the prevailing religion?
  8. Are burial rights (or cremation rights) or location restricted in any way for those not of the prevailing religion?
  9. Is access to agricultural labor limited or restricted to those of the prevailing religion?
  10. Are access to wells, schools, clinics, co-ops and other community services restricted to those of the prevailing religion?

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

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