Natasha’s Study: A 2015 Reading Challenge

I reason I have a weekly “Natasha’s Study” column on this blog is because I lead and I write. It is believed that those who lead and write well, also read often. Over the past 3 1/2 years of attending seminary, I have read many books about theology and leadership. While I love both of those topics, I also have other interests which has lead me to accumulate quite a large stack of unread books. When I graduated in May 2014, I got into this bad habit of starting new books on a whim: “You know I really want to read that,” or “I have been waiting to read that book for a while.” Since I have accumulated so many great books, I was frequently starting and not finishing many of them.

As the year drew to a close, I committed to finishing the books I had already started and only intentionally beginning new ones. My intentional monthly reading plan for 2015 falls into five categories:

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Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America

Divided by Faith book coverI recently finished reading the book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, and it is a much needed read for every leader and thoughtful Christian in the church right now. This is a conversation starter and small group discussion piece. Read it in a book club or have a diverse group of friends gather for coffee. We desperately need this conversation in the church right now, and we need to have it in a safe community of diverse people we are actually doing life with, mutually submitting to, and willingly transparent and trusting of others with our theological convictions, personal experiences, and real or perceived realities.

Author: Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith, Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2000

Why I picked up this book:

I wanted to have a better understanding concerning the polarized positions of race relations in the church. Additionally, this book was recommended as required reading for those interested in racial reconciliation and ministry in a multi-ethnic church context.

Who Should Read Divided by Faith:

I highly recommend this read for any Christian who are interested in these issues. In a post- Trayvon Martin and post-Ferguson cultural setting, this book is a necessary read for Christian pastors and leaders who want to become culturally competent.

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Book Review – Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today

Author: Mark Labberton, Publisher: IVP Books, 2014

 Called book coverWhy I picked up this book:

Intervarsity Press Publishers sent me this book upon its release, and I was delighted to review it after having read Labberton’s “The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor” and using it as a mentoring resource.

Who Should Read Called:

Any Christian who wants to reflect on their life in relation to the church and work God is doing in the world.

What’s in Store for You:

This book was birthed out of Labberton’s pastoral heart. This is a gift of wisdom and profound thought from a person who clearly loves Jesus and his church.

Labberton does not want us to forget that the primary call of the church is to follow Jesus. Following includes loving, learning from and obeying Christ. These are the marks of a true disciple or follower of Christ. The call to discipleship requires that we recalibrate our lives so Jesus is the center from which everything else flows. Following Jesus is a call to live differently, to live as God’s beloved.

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