Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Unchurched Next Door - Thom S. Rainer

When Pastor Kong and Pastor Paul Scanlon, two of the wisest people around, read, referenced to and recommended this book in their sermons, you know it's a good book. So I picked this book up at the Jurong West outlet of Attributes bookstore, the last copy on the shelf when I saw it.

And what an awesome read it was. Rainer, a dean at a seminary, did a research project on 300 North Americans over a span of 3 years and this book was the result.

In the book, with the help of his research assistants, he classified the unchurched into 5 categories, ranging from U1, U2, U3, U4 to U5, with decreasing levels of receptivity to the gospel. It helps Christians better understand that there are different groups of unchurched people out there and not group them under one single homogenous group.

In this way, Christians can better tailor their evangelical efforts to the different levels of receptivity. They'll meet with a greater success in their efforts once they know what their purpose is to. Whether it is to up a person's level form U5 to U4, or to simply lead a seeking U1 to Jesus by inviting him/her to church.

Even though it was a huge research project, Rainer avoids overloading us with figures and statistics. Instead, he presents his results in a clear and relevant manner, and the 10 chapters was a breeze to read. I personally was very inspired, convicted and transformed as I read this book. Really taught me a lot. This is one anointed author. And for the mathematically inclined, he included the comprehensive 7 page statistical report under the appendix.

Personal testimonies from interviews conducted with the unchurched made everything more personal and I believe the reader will be able to identify with the examples given to their friends they're reaching out to. Very encouraging too.

Grab a copy today and let your mindsets be transformed!

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's Not About the Coffee - Howard Behar

It's not about the coffee? How can Starbucks not be about the coffee? It's about the coffee and more :) But it was this intriguing title that caught my eye at Kinokuniya. I was looking out for a book to explain the success of Starbucks Coffee and was initially looking to buy another book with a cooler cover that had a like a takeaway Starbucks cup kinda design.

But upon examining the two books, I realised that Howard Behar is one of the three who created Starbucks to what it is today. "Better to hear from an insider than a person standing from the outside looking in," I thought. So I bought this book at a $10 discount with a $10 gift card given to me by Robin. Yay.

And as I read, I realised I love the way its written. The structure. And the book. It's the kind of style I'd use if I write a book. But mine would have more pictures. But no matter, more about the book.

Howard Behar joined Starbucks in 1989 and served as president of Starbucks International, president of Starbucks North America and the executive vice president of sales and operations. So you gotta listen to this man.

From one store in Seattle to a multimillion dollar franchise that's got franchises worldwide. How was it done? I thought I would find a step-by-step guide in this book and dove eagerly in. But of course I was wrong. Haha, how could you do that, translate 20 years of labour into a book?

But this is book of great wisdom. In 165 pages, the guiding principles of running a successful enterprise is distilled into easy to digest, flavourful and aromatic chapters. Awesome stuff.

Behar draws upon "Build to Last" and I saw the similarities quickly. But it was alright. He really talks about his experience at Starbucks in great detail, and covers snapshots of crucial moments in the company that brought about its success today.

Love the weight of the book. Its really light and easy to carry around. The dust jacket design grows on you too. In a very secure, cosy red background, the distinctive green Starbucks label stands out.

I was very impacted, because as I lead a group of people in a bookstore to fulfill their potential, Behar's words rang true. It's not about the coffee, it's all about the People. It's all about the People. Once you treat your people right, let loose their creativity and give them freedom in a structured environment, oh how they would surprise you.

So I gathered a lot of insight from the book.

This book is most suitable for executives leading a team of people in any organization. Spend 10 days on this book and you'll hone leadership skills and let shine like never before as a great leader.

This book is not an espresso where you'd be overwhelmed with potent information, more like my favorite Java Chip Frappucino, a strong but refreshing drink in tropically-hot Singapore:)

Understanding the Power and Purpose of Prayer - Myles Monroe

I bought this book sometime back at Attributes bookstore cos I wanted to learn more about how to pray. There was so many books available, I didn't know what to choose. So I just picked this one because it says "National Best-Seller" on my copy, even though the photo I uploaded says "Best-Selling Author". Same thing really.

Anyway, it is surprisingly good. If you attend City Harvest Church, this book is really a condensed, power-packed version of Pastor Kong's sermons on prayer. Its like a sermon and Foundation Truths series combined man.

It has 12 Chapters on the different aspects of prayer, and they are sorted into 4 main categories:
1. The Purpose and Priority of Prayer
2. Preparing for Prayer
3. Principles of Prayer
4. The Power of Prayer

And I love the fact that each chapter ends with a prayer, some questions to ask yourself on your prayer life and positive action steps you can take, and finally, a quick summary of the main points covered in the chapter.

Awesome stuff! I kept thinking to myself, "What a great book!" even as I was reading it. Some of the things I already knew, and it was a positive reinforcement and a timely revision, some of the things Dr Monroe talks about are new to me. Like symbols in the Bible. Very interesting.

I encourage every Christian to buy it. And read it thrice. Every chapter is so concise and has so much info that I can barely digest it in one sitting. Read it over 12 days if you're a fast reader, or over 12 weeks for a moderate one.

But most importantly, don't just read, but apply the concepts learnt in your life man. You'll begin to see prayers getting answered as you begin to understand what prayer is really about and how to pray effectively.

This is really good stuff!