This semester I'm taking a class on Church Growth, dealing in part with the history of the Church Growth Movement, its principles, theology, and other such aspects. Fortunately, there has been some excellent literature for this class. Since book reviews are part of the grade, the reading has more or less been mandatory, but is for the most part no less interesting. Currently I'm reading through The Arbinger Institute's Leadership and Self-Deception (2000) and have completed such works as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, and Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth, by G.L. Hawkins and C. Parkinson.
They are all great books, but partway through Leadership and Self-Deception I find myself asking the questions being asked by the person weaving the narrative. And as I began articulating the thoughts with which the book is concerned, a different kind of question came to me: "Why do I find this literature to be more motivating, more captivating than the Gospel? Why is this book more provoking, compelling, interesting?"
As this question gnawed at my thoughts, I was disturbed by the fact that I had pondered these questions. Well, not so much the presence of the questions themselves, but the fact that in the questions there is a certain amount of truth. While I love reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it, I rarely find myself compelled by the Gospel as I am reading these books to do something about myself. Why is this? Why can I so easily be entrapped by a 168 page book, yet remain more or less untouched by the life of a sacrificial lamb? I have to admit: I'm scared.